Championship Preview: Big Money, Easy Pickings

WPT Seminole Hard Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open Championship

Blanda Sees Soft field in SoFla
Blanda Sees Soft field in SoFla

The brash bravado of “Big Daddy” Bill Blanda (Galveston, TX) is on full display at the Coconut Creek Pavilion on the eve of the Luck Hearts Championship event.

“Big money, easy pickings,” says Blanda, who surveyed the room and what he called the “soft Florida market,” creating a whole new meaning for SoFla.

Blanda is just one of the many professional players descending on this South Florida WPT stop that boasts a $1 Million Guaranteed prize pool.  The field already has more than 100 entries through satellites and promotions.

In addition to Blanda and his nearly $1 million in career recorded tournament earnings, the field will include WPT winning pros Will “The Thrill” Failla (Commack, NY),  Jared Jaffee (Brooklyn, NY) and Anthony Zinno (Cranston, RI).

“I haven’t played as much poker as I should be,” said Zinno, who won his WPT title for $825,000 last September at Borgata (Atlantic City, NJ), “but after decent sleep tonight, I’ll be ready to tackle Day 1A.”

Zinno says escaping the Northeast snow, the Florida sun, a direct flight and a good poker room rate all added up to a winning play.  “I’ve never been to Coconut Creek before, but it all hooked me in.”

Jaffee is also glad to escape the snow.

“It’s zero degrees here (New York) and nice weather down there, so it’s pretty much a no brainer,” said Jaffee prior to making another televised WPT final table last week in Atlantic City.

Jaffee pushed his career earnings to $1.6 million with a 4th place finish ($259,000) and is looking to keep the momentum going in Florida where he won his WPT title.

“This is the first year that I feel like I have a legitimate chance at making a run at the WPT Player of the Year,” Jaffee said, adding, “anything in the South seems to work for me.”

While Jaffee, Zinno and Blanda are set to play the Championship Event, Failla is already in the series. The 15-time winner with $4.2 million in live earnings, busted out of Event 9 ($1,650 Purple Chip Bounty) and immediately jumped into a Mega Satellite for the Championship Event.

Day 1A begins 11 am Friday, followed by Day 1B Saturday.  The Friday schedule also features two satellites into the Championship Event (3 pm & 8 pm) as the tournament staff offers a player friendly series.

“That’s what we want,” says Blanda, “a customer friendly, well educated, knowledgeable and professional staff.”

Blanda says these are the primary reasons he’s in SoFla.  Adding that basic poker is the same everywhere, but it’s the experience that separates one tournament from another.

Blanda’s also quick to add that the quality of the field “doesn’t hurt” when he booked his trip to Coconut Creek.

Championship Event Structure Sheet