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22-Year-Old Griffin Paul Wins WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown for $1,000,000

Griffin Paul

The penultimate stop on Season XIII of the World Poker Tour (WPT) came to an end on Wednesday night. The $3,500 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown attracted 1,476 entrants over the course of three starting flights, but after five days of action, it was 22-year-old poker pro Griffin Paul who emerged victorious to capture the $1 million first-place prize, a Hublot Oceanographic 4000 watch, gold Monster headphones, and a $15,400 seat into the season-ending WPT World Championship.

Prior to the win, Paul had just $74,616 in winnings, which included $25,756 for finishing 441st in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event, and $24,030 for placing 32nd in the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars back in March.

"It's like a dream, I'm speechless," Paul told SHRPO officials after the win. "It was a really tough table. I fought some amazing players and here I am."

He went on to add, "I stayed here last night for the first time. It's an amazing property. Really nice. Beautiful. The staff here is great."

Final Table Results

1Griffin Paul$1,000,000
2Joe Ebanks$615,000
3Andrew Crooks$383,000
4Shawn Nguyen$323,500
5Brian Green$269,000
6Ryan Rivers$217,500

Notable Finishes: Dan Heimiller (8th - $123,000), David Peters (10th - $58,500), Mohsin Charania (15th - $39,000), Vince Van Patten (27th - $22,100), Jared Jaffee (50th - $13,750), Marvin Rettenmaier (79th - $9,300)

According to live updates from the event, it took awhile for the ranks to thin. Canada's Ruan Rivers, who previously finished third in the 2014 PokerStars Canada Cup for $151,430, was the first to go on Hand #57 when his {k-Clubs}{8-Clubs} failed to overcome the {a-Clubs}{8-Diamonds} of Joe Ebanks. After another baker's dozen of hands, Brian Green, a prior WPT Jacksonville bestbet Open finalist, bowed out in fifth place when he three-bet shoved with the {a-Spades}{10-Clubs} and Paul, the original raiser, called with the {j-Spades}{j-Diamonds}. The fishhooks held and that was all she wrote for Green, who took down a career-high $269,000 for his performance.

Seven hands later, Shawn Nguyen, a cash-game player playing his first big buy-in tournament, exited in fourth place after losing a flip with the {a-Diamonds}{10-Spades} to the {9-Spades}{9-Clubs} of Ebanks. The final three players were fairly deep, but that didn't stop Ebanks and Andre Crooks from playing a big pot six hands later.

On Hand #83, with the blinds at 100,000/200,000/25,000, Ebanks opened for 550,000 from the small blind and Crooks, who had finished fourth in the series' $350 NLHE Black-Chip Bounty event two weeks earlier, three-bet to 1.1 million from the big blind. Ebanks four-bet to 2.35 million, Crooks five-bet to 4.8 millions, and Ebanks six-bet shoved. Crooks snap-called for 9.975 million total and was in prime position to double big.

Crooks: {k-Spades}{k-Clubs}
Ebanks: {9-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}

Unfortunately for Crooks, the flop came down {a-Spades}{j-Hearts}{9-Clubs} to give Ebanks a set. Neither the {4-Diamonds} turn nor {10-Hearts} river helped Crooks, and he was out in third place for $383,000.

Ebanks began heads-up play with the chip lead, but Paul took it over when he doubled on the pair's ninth hand. On the 34th hand of heads-up play, which happened in Level 35 (200,000/400,000/50,000), Paul limped and then called when Ebanks raised to 1.5 million. The {k-Diamonds}{j-Clubs}{4-Hearts} flop saw Ebanks bet 1 million and then call off for 8.475 million total after Paul shipped.

Ebanks: {a-Diamonds}{j-Hearts}
Paul: {k-Clubs}{9-Diamonds}

Ebanks had flopped middle pair, but it was no good as Paul held top pair. The {4-Diamonds} turn was of no consequence, and neither was the {6-Spades} river. Ebanks, who won $1,158,481 and a gold bracelet in the 2011 World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max, took home $615,000 for his runner-up finish, while Paul etched his name on the WPT Champions' Cup.

Season XIII of the WPT will conclude this weekend with the $15,000 WPT Championship at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. PokerNews will have a recap of that event upon completion of play.

*Lead photo courtesy of SHRPO.

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Chad Holloway

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