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Jason Koon Wins 2016 SHRPO Championship for $1 Million

Jason Koon

For the second straight year, the 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO), in conjunction with Poker Night in America, live streamed four final tables at the same time. One of those final tables was the poker festival's marquee event, the $5,250 SHRPO Championship, a tournament that featured a massive $765,000 overlay as it attracted 853 players.

After four days of action, West Virginia's Jason Koon emerged victorious after beating a tough final table, including heads-up play against his close friend and former roommate Seth Davies. Koon walked away with the title and the top prize of $1,000,000.

Koon was enthusiastic about his win and enjoyed his experience sharing with SHRPO officials; "I feel fantastic. I mean, it’s a great result, it’s a lot of money, and I got to play heads-up with my buddy … It’s a special moment."

Koon added that the win, which marks the biggest of his poker career, was "something that I reminded myself to burn into my brain, so on rough days I can think about this awesome day."

Last month, Koon notched his first tournament win of the year with a victory in the Bellagio $25,000 High Roller 7 for $514,900. The poker pro now has $5,233,339 in live tournament cashes, which according to The Hendon Mob, puts him 197th place on the all-time money list.

Final Table Results

1Jason Koon$1,000,000
2Seth Davies$575,000
3Tim Burt$310,000
4Roman Valerstein$220,000
5Tom Midena$180,000
6Joe Serock$150,000
7Paul Balzano$125,000
8Ryan Fair$100,000
9Zo Karim$75,000

The four-day event kicked off on Saturday with players starting with 30,000 chips and 60-minute blind levels. Players eliminated early were permitted one reentry until the end of level 9.

Day two began on Sunday with blinds at 1,000/2,000 and a 300 ante. Joe Serock was the only player above the 300,000 chip threshold with a stack of 341,200. Many notable players were eliminated on the opening day including Jonathan Duhamel, Dan Heimiller, James Calderaro, Joe McKeehen, Dan O’Brien, and Bryn Kenney.

Less than four hours into the second day, the bubble burst with the remaining 150 players guaranteed a payday of at least $7,500. Ben Eilers was eliminated on the bubble in 151st place when his {a-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds} was unable to out-race the {q-Diamonds}{q-Clubs} held by Zo Karim.

Patrick Eskandar kicked off Day 3 on Monday with 1,913,000 in chips with blinds at 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante. However, Eskander was unable to make it through tot he final when he was eliminated in 26th place to collect $27,500 when his {q-Hearts}{q-Diamonds} failed to hold against Koon's {a-Spades}{k-Clubs}.

The third day was in the books less than eight hours after it began when on the unofficial final table, Corey Hochman was eliminated at the hands of Koon in 10th place for $50,000.

Final Table Chip Counts

SeatPlayerChip Count
1Seth Davies3,350,000
2Roman Valerstein2,895,000
3Thomas Midena4,395,000
4Ryan Fair1,335,000
5Jason Koon3,595,000
6Zo Karim1,295,000
7Paul Balzano4,120,000
8Joe Serock1,845,000
9Tim Burt2,575,000

No eliminations took place during the first two hours of final table play. Zo Karim, who began the day as the smallest stack with 22 big blinds, was eventually the first player eliminated. He three-bet shoved for 750,000 for 10 big blinds with {a-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}. Koon called with {k-Clubs}{10-Clubs} and was able to pair-up when a king spiked the river.

Less than an hour later on the 50th hand of the day, Ryan Fair hit the rail in eighth place when he shoved all-in for 1,205,000 with {k-Diamonds}{2-Spades} and was unable to out-gun Roman Valerstein's {k-Hearts}{j-Clubs}.

Another nine hands later, Paul Balzano also hit the showers. He finished in seventh place at the hands of Valerstein when his {q-Diamonds}{q-Clubs} proved to be no match to his opponent's {k-Hearts}{k-Clubs}.

Day 1 chip leader Serock was the next to be eliminated in sixth place. He three-bet shoved all-in for 13 big blinds with {a-Hearts}{2-Hearts} and was unable to get there after Koon called with {a-Clubs}{j-Clubs}.

Midena, who began the final table as the chip leader, was eliminated three hands later in fifth place when he three-bet all-in from the big blind with {k-Diamonds}{j-Spades} and was unable to stay alive against Davies who called with {a-Spades}{3-Diamonds}.

Blinds increased to 75,000/150,000 with a 25,000 ante, when in the 97th hand of the day Valerstein three-bet shoved for 3,000,000 with {j-Hearts}{j-Clubs}. Davies called with {a-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} and was able to spike an ace on the turn to eliminate Valerstein in fourth place.

The trio battled it out for 21 hands when, with blinds at 100,000/200,000 with a 25,000 ante, Tim Burt three-bet shoved from the big blind for 3,760,000. His shove with {a-Hearts}{3-Hearts} was callled by Koon who held {10-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. Koon nailed quad-tens on {q-Hearts}{7-Spades}{3-Spades}{10-Spades}{10-Clubs} and the tournament was heads-up.

Koon began heads-up play with a small chip lead against his friend Davies. Just 10 hands after heads-up play began, Koon was able to extend this lead to a 3:1 advantage. The former roommates battled it out before Koon extended his lead to a 6:1 advantage. Davies battled back however and was able to double up to 7,500,000 on the 153rd hand of the day and the 38th of heads-up play.

That momentum was short-lived as on the very next hand Davies was eliminated in second place after he three-bet shoved all-in with {q-Clubs}{j-Hearts}. Koon called with {a-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} and was ahead the entire way with the board running out {a-Spades}{7-Spades}{3-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{8-Clubs}.

Davies credits Koon for helping him grow as a poker player sharing with SHRPO officials that, "Jason is very much a mentor to me in poker, and in life. […] I’ve learned so much from him, just about how to grow as a person and as a poker player."

*Lead photo, quotes, and data courtesy of SHRPO.

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  • Jason Koon ships the $5,250 SHRPO Championship for $1 million on August 16, 2016.

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