It has been a long wait for poker fans, but this week saw the long awaited return of World Poker Tour events. The first event that has taken place for over 12 months came on Wednesday, as the Lucky Hearts Poker Open took place at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida. There were 1,573 entries for the event, but it was won by a shock player that nobody could have foreseen.
That was something that echoed when interviewed about the win after the conclusion of the event, as Ilyas Muradi admitted that he was very emotional. However, it was the American that was able to hold off the experienced players he was up against, despite having success sparingly in poker on the main stage.
Muradi Holds Off Strong Field
Muradi’s career in poker hasn’t been littered with massive success, which meant that there was huge surprise that he was the star that was able to hold on to the win. However, he managed to keep his cool in the final three-handed play to take home $620,000 of the prize fund. There was set to be a prize pool of $1 million for the event, but that was quickly eclipsed, with $5 million up for grabs throughout the event. The amount of money in the prize fund meant that the players in the top 197 places all managed to claim a piece of the pie.
However, few would be able to argue against Muradi’s success being one of the biggest in the poker world so far this year. All seven of the top players on the leaderboard were from the United States, with Robel Andemichael and Ronnie Bardah finishing in second and third respectively after they were beaten in three-handed play by the eventual winner. The player that finished in second claimed $545,000, while Bardah claimed a slightly bigger portion of the pie, as he won $566,135 after reaching a deal of the final table.
Final Standings In Lucky Hearts Event
Among the players that still managed to get returns from the event despite not finishing in the higher places were Joseph Hebert, who recently finished as a runner-up at a WSOP event, and Darren Elias. Other players to miss out on a top seven spot included Aaron Mermelstein, Sam Panzica and Joe McKeehen. Francis Margaglione put in an excellent display throughout the event, and managed to hold on to fourth place in the standings, returning $293,510. Meanwhile, Jesse Lonis and Phillip Shing finished in fifth and sixth place.
Shing claimed $168,990, while Lonia won $223,895. The final player to finish in a place on the final table was Andy Hwang, who outlasted Elias. Elias was made to settle for tenth in the final results, while Hwang managed slightly better, as he finished in seventh and won $115,630 in returns. It was a highly enjoyable event for poker fans, and there certainly would have been huge delight to see World Poker Tour events back up and running.