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Alex Foxen Defends SHRPO $2,650 Title, MacDonnell & Riess Victorious

Alex Foxen

While Jake Schindler and Brandon Eisen were busy winning the 2018 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $25K High Roller and $5,250 Championship respectively, two other tournaments played out as part of the SHRPO Big 4.

The $2,650 No-Limit Hold’em event saw the red-hot Alex Foxen successfully defend his title, while one of Ireland’s best, Marc MacDonnell, claimed victory in the $1,100 NLH event. Foxen’s win came after an epic heads-up match against Blair Hinkle, and MacDonnell had to contend with World Series of Poker bracelet winner Joey Couden to capture his title.

Back-to-Back Foxen

This year’s SHRPO $2,650 NLH event attracted 422 runners, including defending champ Alex Foxen. Last year, Foxen bested a 395-entry field to win the title for $204,600, and he accomplished the rare feat of defending that title.

To do it he had to best 2013 SHRPO champ Blair Hinkle, which was easier said than done. The two battled for several hours and took turns exchanging the chip lead. In fact, the heads-up match ended up lasting longer than it took to eliminate the seven other players from the final table.

Things came to a head when Hinkle got his stack in with pocket deuces and was flipping against Foxen’s ace-ten of clubs. A ten on the flop gave Foxen the lead and he held onto it through the turn and river to seal the deal.

“It was pretty crazy, it was a really long heads-up match,” Foxen told SHRPO officials. “I’m exhausted from that but it’s an amazing experience to get to go deep in this one again, and I managed to get the right cards in the end and win it.”

Foxen has been on a tear over the last year and has already won more than $2.3 million in 2018.

Official Final Table Results

1Alex Foxen$208,452
2Blair Hinkle$146,042
3Jake Schwartz$93,892
4Tom Nguyen$62,936
5Brandon Hall$48,404
6Matthew Kuba$40,115
7Rick Alvarado$33,668
8Matt O’Donnell$27,242
9Michael Esposito$20,846

MacDonnell Closes Out $1,100 NLH

Marc MacDonnell
Marc MacDonnell

Event #21: $1,100 No-Limit Hold’em saw 640 entrants take to the felt and play down to the final table on Day 1. Among those there were Maria Ho, who had to juggle her hosting duties, and Paul Balzano, who was at a Big 4 final table for the third year in a row.

However, the title came down to two other established players in MacDonnell and Couden. The latter, a 31-year-old Columbus, Ohio began the final table as the chip leader and was in the midst of the best year of his career, which included winning the 2018 WSOP Event #53: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better for $244,370 and a bracelet.

Meanwhile, the former had already improved upon his third-place finish from one year prior. In the final hand of the tournament, Couden got it in preflop holding ace-five only to run it into MacDonnell’s Big Slick. The kicker wound up making the difference on the ace-high runout and Couden had to settle for second place.

“They were pretty similar, maybe one or two better players this year,” MacDonnell said when asked about his back-to-back experience.

Official Final Table Results

1Marc MacDonnell$119,465
2Joey Couden$83,750
3Michael Graffeo$53,939
4James Salmon$39.008
5Paul Balzano$29,933
6Dennis Rodriguez$24,045
7Maria Ho$19,981
8Adam Zeltser$15,923

Riess and Qartomy Strike a Deal

Ray Qartomy and Ryan Riess
Ray Qartomy and Ryan Riess

While it wasn’t a part of the Big 4, one other tournament played out on Tuesday in the $10,000 Single-Day Event, which drew 91 entries and created an $873,600 prize pool. The final table was controlled largely by Ray Qartomy, but a late surge by 2013 WSOP Main Event champ Ryan Riess saw him take the chip lead into heads-up play.

The two agreed to an ICM chop with Riess getting $236,838 and the title while Qartomy took second for $206,297.

“I love the bigger buy-ins, the $10Ks and $25Ks are my favorite to play,” Riess told SHRPO officials after the win. “This casino is just awesome, I can’t say enough good things about it. Tony Burns and all the staff do a great job. I love it here and try not to miss it.”

It was just the latest win for Riess at the venue. In April of last year, he was victorious in the $10,000 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Finale for $716,088, and in April 2015 won the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Event #11: $2,200 NLH for $63,891.

Official Final Table Results

1Ryan Riess$236,838*
2Ray Qartomy$206,297*
3Jay Kovoor$104,832
4Ben Yu$67,704
5Shannon Shorr$52,416
6Jun Ji$41,496
7Barry Hutter$34,944
8Almedin Imsirovic$30,576
9Stephen Chidwick$27,719

*Denotes heads-up deal

Images courtesy of SHRPO

  • Alex Foxen, Marc MacDonnell, and Ryan Riess all won titles at the 2018 @SHRPO.

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Chad Holloway

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