The final six players in the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event are an intriguing group to say the least. Five of them have at least $1 million in lifetime earnings, but only two have ever enjoyed a seven-figure payday – something two of the six remaining players are set to enjoy Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Leah isn’t shy about playing tournaments at nearly any price point they’re offered, but the opportunity he’s being presented with in this tournament is unlike almost any of his previous results. Leah’s not only locked up the largest cash of his career by making this final table, but with the overall chiplead coming in he’s set up for a run at so much more. It’s a result of a truly spectacular Day 4, when Leah simply imposed his will on the rest of the field as the played from 18 down to six.
The man sitting behind him, in second, is a much different story. All of Daniel Colman’s eight previous cashes on the year have come in tournaments with buy-ins of at least $5,000 – and he’s put up tremendous results in High Rollers. Not only did Colman win the Big One for One Drop for the second-largest tournament payday in history, he also won the EPT Grand Final Super High Roller, finished third in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship at the WSOP, took third in an Aria Super High Roller and finished runner-up to Olivier Busquet in the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller. Colman’s in search of his fourth seven-figure payout Wednesday, and a victory (or even a runner-up finish) could put a serious damper on anyone trying to catch him in the 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year race.
Joe Kuether has a similar career resume to Leah – loads of strong results and over $2.1 million in lifetime tournament earnings, but never more than $250,000 in a single cash. Having already locked up a career-best result of his own, Kuether can turn his focus towards this final table, where he’ll start third.
Martin Hanowski has the lowest total career earnings of the final six, and he hasn’t earned a tournament cash in over a year. Hanowski does have one major final table to his credit though, having made the final table of a $3,000 bracelet event at the 2013 WSOP. Shawn Cunix won the 2012 WPT bestbet Jacksonville Poker Open back in 2012 – one of two major titles for this group of six, along with Colman’s WSOP bracelet – but he’ll have to ladder up just one spot to earn the biggest cash of his career.
John Dolan rounds out the final six, and if anyone knows the pressure of big payouts and pay jumps as well as Colman it’s Dolan. He finished sixth in the 2010 WSOP Main Event, and while Dolan begins this final table as the short stack he’s had some experience winning big money at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood – he finished second in a WPT event there back in 2012.
While just six remain in the hunt for $1,446,710, it wasn’t smooth sailing for all 18 who came back to play on Tuesday afternoon. Things got off to a roaring start with five eliminations in the first two hours of Day 4. Russell Thomas was left with the shortest stack among the final 13, but he doubled twice to pull back towards the pack. Colman brought an end to Thomas’ comeback run in his third chance to double up, however, and the field was reduced to two tables of six.
The last woman standing in the field was Natasha Barbour, but she was sent out in 12th place. Curt Kohlberg had been close to major titles numerous times in his career, including a second place finish in a WPT event at this very casino, but he was sent out in 11th. After the field combined to a single table of 10, Lenny Duvdivani quickly went out in 10th – and the battle for one of the final six spots intensified.
After making a deep run in the 2014 WSOP Main Event, Roman Valerstein made another bid for the biggest result of his career with an impressive showing in the SHRPO Main Event. Valerstein would ultimately finish ninth, though, and Brian Hawkins wasn’t far behind him in eight. Hawkins, whose online exploits earned him the cover of BLUFF Magazine before he even turned 21, earned $99,775 – the largest tournament cash of his career.
Played continued seven-handed for some time, and they even delayed the scheduled dinner break by a level. Blake Bohn doubled through Hanowski and things dragged on, leading to the final seven players taking a dinner break anyway. Kuether earned a key double to regain a comfortable stack, and Leah then wrapped up a tremendous day of poker by eliminating Bohn – setting the final six and establishing some distance between himself and Colman at the top of the chip counts.
The final table will commence at 1 pm EST Wednesday, with all of the action streamed on a one hour delay with hole cards starting at 2 pm on PokerStars.tv.
2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event – Final Table Chip Counts
- Mike Leah – 15,455,000
- Dan Colman – 10,230,000
- Joe Kuether – 7,090,000
- Martin Hanowski – 5,210,000
- Shawn Cunix – 4,870,000
- John Dolan – 2,045,000
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