The 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, drew 585 entrants to its $3,500 Championship Event, which offered up a $2 million prize pool. On Wednesday, New York’s Michael Newman overcame a stacked final table to walk away with a career-high $374,240 payday.
Pivotal First Hand
Prior to the win, 48-year-old Michael Newman, a former Wall Streeter now plying his banking trade in Florida, had $383,217 in career tournament winnings, with a prior best of just $30,640 for finishing 12th in the same event two years earlier.
“It’s probably the best thing that I’ve ever done in poker,” Newman told tournament officials after his victory. “Money’s great, money’s always great, but (it’s great) to get through the toughest field I’ve ever played against in my life.”
That tough field included some of the biggest names in poker, many of whom were at the final table. On Day 4, MSPT Potawatomi champ Ari Engel began the final table as the chip leader, but he lost it when Michael Newman doubled through him in the very first hand.
“The first hand was very pivotal,” said Newman. “I had top pair with the nut flush draw on the turn. I was like, ‘The first hand I’m going to be out?’ but I had to call, and I was right.”
The hand took place in Level 29 (40k/80k/10k) when Engel raised holding 6♦4♦ and Newman defended from the big blind with the A♦7♦. Newman called a bet on the A♣10♦8♥ flop and then led out for 600,000 on the 3♦ turn. Engel moved all-in and Newman called off for 2.9 million. He was rewarded with the double-up as Engel was drawing dead.
Fan Favorite Falls
Another player to fall to Michael Newman was SHRPO Ambassadors and local favorite Sheddy Siddiqui, who earlier this year unexpectedly lost his 39-year-old wife, Cathy, the mother of his two young boys. It was a devastating loss for Siddiqui, who had no choice to carry on for his kids, albeit with the support of the poker world.
In his final hand, which took place in Level 31 (60k/120k/20k), Newman opened for 275,000 with A♠A♦ and Siddiqui called from the big blind with the A♣J♣. The J♥10♥3♦ flop saw the chips get in, and Siddiqui was looking for another jack. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get one as the 7♣ bricked on the turn followed by the 9♠ on the river. Siddiqui earned $121,920 for his fourth-place finish, which marked the second-largest score of his career.
Newman went on to take a 7:1 chip lead into heads-up play against WPT champ Matas Cimbolas, who ranks third on Lithuania’s all-time poker money list. Three hands later, Newman won a flip to capture the title.
“I’m glad I’m able to play at this level, but it would take a lot of time to be a pro,” said Newman. “As much as I love the game, I don’t know if I could handle the ups, the downs, and the swings. No matter how good you are, you also need the luck.”
Others to cash the Main Event were Shaun Deeb (9th for $37,420), Dan Colman (10th for $31,260), 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Joe McKeehen (13th for $24,920), and Faraz Jaka (28th for $10,260).
Final Table Results
1 Michael Newman (USA) $374,240
2 Matas Cimbolas (Lithuania) $262,440
3 Darryll Fish (USA) $168,920
4 Sheddy Siddiqui (USA) $121,920
5 Ari Engel (Canada) $93,560
6 Tom Marchese (USA) $75,380