In last Wednesday’s main event face off, amateur player Eric Afriat of Montreal, Quebec beat five professional poker players and emerged as the winner of the $3,500 Buy-in 2014 World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
Afriat, went into the final table as fourth-placer, but managed to enter the heads up with a 2.5 to 1 chip advantage over early chip leader Mukul Pahuja. After seven hands, the Canadian poker pro succeeded in wrenching the WPT title away from Pahuja, as well as earned the right to claim the $1,081,184 first-place prize.
The 44-year old Montreal native held at bay other strong contenders like Chance Kornuth, Matt Stout, Jake Bazeley and James Mackey before meeting the 28-year-old Mukul Pahuja in a brief heads-up match. The latter took home $691,965 for being the second place finisher, as well as the right to add the “WPT Player of the Year” title to his poker feats. Afriat, now belongs to Canada’s list of all-time top 50 poker pros with his overall poker winnings of more than $1.5 million. Just a few weeks earlier, he collected $7,473 for being the 20th placer in the WPT National: Canadian Spring Championship held in his hometown’s Playground Poker Club last March 27, 2014.
The 2014 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker winner is also a businessman by profession and whose primary ambition is to make his clothing company known all over the world. The highlight of his impressive performance was when he cracked Jacob Bazeley’s pocket Aces by flopping two pairs. Yet, Afriat believes that winning the WPT was his fate and that last Wednesday’s showdown was his time to win. For the Montreal native, “Everything was just magical.”
The other poker-notables pocketed hefty shares as well, despite finishing as runner ups; James Mackey took home $441,128 as 3rd placer, followed by Jacob Bazeley with $371,931, Matt Stout with $308,501 and Chance Kornuth with $247,954 as 4th, 5th and 6th placers, respectively. Since the prize pool total surpassed the $5 million guarantee at $5,763,150, the top 170 finishers likewise received $7,093 apiece as share of the stake.
The main event of the Million WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in Florida is touted as the biggest event in the history of World Poker Tournaments. The poker affair was well attended because it attracted a record-breaking total of 1,795 mixed entries comprising well-known poker stars, celebrities and other famous faces, including 2013 WSOP Main Event Champion Ryan Riess, Hall of Famer Scotty Nguyen, “Hangover” Actress Sasha Barrese, and famous poker couple Phil Laak and Jennifer Tilly, just to mention a few.
The 2014 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown is the second poker event backed by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Last year, the casino set a $10,000,000 guaranteed prize pool for the $5,000 Buy-in “No-limit Hold’em” main event of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, which the casino hosted in August at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood.