Omar Zazay and Jason Mercier Headline Winners at Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open

Posted on August 19th, 2015 by Alana Markoff
Jason Mercier SHRPO 2015

Jason Mercier was one of four winners at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open on Tuesday night. (Image: jasonmercier.com)

The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) had a bit of a snafu last year, as their Championship tournament game up around $2.5 million short of its $10 million guarantee, creating a massive overlay for players and an even bigger headache for organizers.

That meant a new format for 2015, one with a smaller guarantee but perhaps even more excitement for players and viewers alike.

This year’s SHRPO Championship ditched the re-entry format used the last two years in favor of a $5,250 entry fee, a single entry per player, and a $5 million guarantee.

It also made the finale of the Championship coincide with three other final tables, creating a “Big Four” event that would feature commentary from Phil Hellmuth and taped for future broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

All told, the Big Four promised $7.5 million in guaranteed prize money to players. While there was an overlay for players in the Championship event, the other events easily exceeded their guarantees, making Tuesday’s spectacle a success for organizers.

Zazay Wins Championship Event

In the Championship event, it was Omar Zazay who emerged victorious out of a field of 907 players.

That total left the tournament just short of its $5 million guarantee, but it was hardly the disastrous shortfall that the Seminole Hard Rock had to deal with last year.

Zazay took home $1 million for first place. He had a tough final table to contend with, one that included defending champion Daniel Colman, who finished in third place for a $310,000 score.

“Getting down three-handed with Dan Colman was definitely a sticky situation,” Zazay said. “I was trying to do the best I could against him and not give him chips so he could use them against me.”

Mercier Triumphs in High Roller

Other than the Championship, the highest-profile event among the Big Four was probably the SHRPO High Roller. The $25,400 buy-in tournament had a $1 million guarantee, but drew 83 entries, enough to swell the prize pool to over $2 million.

Not surprisingly, some notable names were among those who reached the final table, including Phil Laak and David Sands. But it was three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Jason Mercier who walked away with the title and a $652,800 payday.

“Anytime you can win a poker tournament it feels good, and I’m just glad I won this one,” Mercier said. “It was awesome that they were able to put a guarantee on a high roller event, which is a very rare thing.”

Gonzalez, Eldridge Also Score Wins

The third event finishing up Tuesday night was a $2,650 No Limit Hold’em event that drew 502 players, more than reaching its $1 million guarantee.

The victory went to Spain’s Fabrizio Gonzales, who beat Daniel Fuhs in heads-up play to win $236,400.

“He was a tough player, but I think I picked up some good cards,” Gonzales said after his win. “I thing I played very good heads up. I was grinding him down and kept the pressure on, and everything worked out.”

The last of the four events was a $1,100 No Limit Hold’em re-entry tournament that attracted 794 entrees, easily surpassing the $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. David Eldridge held the chip lead for most of the final table, then held on to win the tournament and take home $146,100.

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