The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) has been known for guaranteeing and awarding some massive prize pools. In the 2013 version of their main event, the SHRPO guaranteed a total prize pool of $10 million, and through the use of multiple flights and a re-entry format, it attracted enough $5,300 buy-ins to produce a $12 million pot. That left organizers confident that they could pull off this feat again in 2014, but that proved more difficult than they anticipated this year.
When the final numbers came in after the three Day 1 flights at the 2014 SHRPO, there were only 1,499 entries into the tournament, down from 2,384 last year. That was enough to generate a fairly healthy $7.5 million prize pool, but that was still far short of the $10 million that organizers had guaranteed, meaning that the $2.5 million difference had to come out of the casino’s own pockets.
Even after accounting for the entry fees paid by players, there will still be a deficit of over $2 million for the casino to make up on their own. That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially after the unprecedented success of the same tournament last year and the increased fields seen at many major tournaments in recent months. There was also support from PokerStars, which is live streaming the final table online.
In retrospect, there were a number of factors working against this year’s SHRPO. Last year, the tournament had very little competition from other poker tournaments, but that was not the case in 2014. The WinStar World River Poker Series Main Event in Oklahoma had its own $2.5 million guarantee and a slightly more affordable $2,500 buy-in, which attracted a number of top players. There was also a $1,100 Playground Poker Festival tournament in Montreal that met its $1 million guarantee.
Those tournaments may have done just enough to leave the Hard Rock without enough players to meet its guarantee. By most standards, the tournament was still a major success, but against its own projections, organizers cannot be pleased with the result. It comes at a time when the concepts of multiple reentries and other tournament formats designed to pump prize pools have come under attack from players such as Allen Kessler, who believes they are bad for the game.
The 2013 SHRPO Main Event was ultimately won by Blair Hinkle, who took home a $1.7 million prize for his efforts. This year’s tournament will award prizes to 300 players, each of which will win at least $7,483. Two players will win at least a million dollars, with the eventual winner taking home $1,446,710.
While this tournament may not have reached its guarantee, the summer has still been an excellent one for the live poker tournament scene. The Estrellas Poker Tour Main Event recently broke the record for the largest ever PokerStars-operated tournament field in terms of unique entries (which does not account for re-entries), while the Beijing Millions in July broke the record for the largest field ever outside of the United States with over 2,700 players. The World Series of Poker also saw a Monster Stack event draw over 7,800 players, the most for any event outside of a WSOP Main Event.