Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the hospitality. Maybe it’s the nightlife.
But, honestly, it’s probably the money. It’s the money that keeps players coming back year after year to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida for the WPT Seminole Hard Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open. And this year, there was a lot of money to win. The Season 20 edition of this circuit staple saw 1,541 entries fire into the $3,500 buy-in WPT Main Tour event. It’s a number that absolutely obliterated the $2,000,000 guarantee to the tune of a $4,931,200 prize pool and will allow the winner to walk away with a $785,500 first-place prize as well as a seat to the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas in December.
The undeniable success of this year is a testament to the growth of this East Coast tournament staple and the determination of the property to keep pushing to grow an event. The truth is, reaching the guarantee was never in doubt as players piled into the tournament with registrants increasing by more than 100 entries per level for the first five levels of Day 1A. By the end of the day of the first starting flight, the guarantee was hit and it was a matter of just how big would this year be.
How big was it? It’s the second-largest in Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open history. Second only to last year, when players were eager to get back on the road to play poker and the year after Seminole Hard Rock postponed the event in 2020 for the pandemic. Last year set the record in the event’s 11-year history with 25 more entries (1,566) and a prize pool just north of $5 million.
That said, there’s never been a better time to be a winner than this year as last year’s champ, Gediminas Uselis, took home $778,490 – roughly $7,000 less than this year’s eventual winner. It’s the kind of payday that can make a career for a shot-taking recreational player or save a year for a professional grinder. And at this late date, there are only a few events left in 2022 to even have the opportunity for such a result.
It’s been a long road to get to the point where this event has become a can’t-miss spot on the poker calendar. Originally a $2,500 event back in 2011, the inaugural Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open drew 331 runners and paid out $172,408 to the winner. Not bad by any stretch. Over the next three years, fields increased and in 2014 the property slapped the $2 million guarantee on the tournament. It overlayed by $76,800 that year, but the next year the guarantee remained and the players responded by breaking the guarantee in both of the next two years and providing career-changing scores of more than $560,000 in both years.
In 2018, World Poker Tour became a partner, and field sizes began to soar. There were 898 entries in 2018, 988 in 2019, and then the event shattered the 1,000-entry barrier in 2021 with the aforementioned record.
So while maybe, ultimately, it’s the money, it’s gotta be all of those other things that keep players coming back too. The weather was hovering in the low 80s this week and the famous guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is known for its comfort and hospitality. And if Tua, Tyreek, and the rest of the Miami Dolphins are in town on Sunday, you can possibly catch a game as well.
The winner of this year’s WPT Seminole Hard Rock ’N’ Roll Poker Open will be crowned on Wednesday, November 30 with a livestreamed final table starting at 2:30 pm ET.