Blair Hinkle of Kansas City, Missouri, walked away as the $1.7 million champion of the inaugural Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, held August 8-28, 2013 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The tournament, that featured no TV coverage and was not tied to a major poker tour, exceeded industry expectations by beating its own $10 million guarantee (the largest in the world) by nearly 20%, and creating an actual prize pool of $11.92 million from 2,384 entries.
Hinkle began the final table of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship Event with the chip lead. With a World Series of Poker bracelet under his belt and seven figures in online earnings, Hinkle has shined on poker’s biggest stage before. Second in chips was Justin Bonomo, who has more than $6 million in tournament earnings to his name.
The final table began at a fast pace, as four players fell in the first 58 hands. What followed next was a 165-hand heads-up duel between Hinkle and Bonomo. With career tournament earnings of nearly $10 million between them, both top professionals gave it everything they had for nearly six hours before Hinkle emerged victorious, having fought back from several chip deficits.
On the final hand, with more than a 6-to-1 chip lead, Hinkle called Bonomo’s all-in raise after the turn. Bonomo held top pair with a queenhigh straight draw, but was drawing dead against Hinkle’s king-high straight.
There were also three celebrities in the field—rapper Nelly, actress Shannon Elizabeth, and actor/DJ Danny Masterson. All three survived to Day 2, and Elizabeth and Masterson both finished in the money, with Elizabeth earning $11,635 for 165th place, and Masterson earning $14,544 for 112th.