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Salomon Ponte of Toronto Wins Lucky Hearts, Gloats to Media

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (January 19, 2016) - Salomon Ponte of Toronto walked away
with $344,420 after winning first place in the Seminole Hard Rock Lucky
Hearts Poker Open WPTRDeepStacks Main Event carrying a $1 million guarantee
held January 14-18, 2016, at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood,
Florida. Offering a buy-in of $1,100 with three starting flights, the Main
Event produced 1,684 entries with a total prize pool of $1,633,480. The
action-packed final table play lasted under four hours.  Ponte then shocked the
poker media by bragging about the victory, saying, "I knew I was going to win - I
was the best player."

The series kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 7, with a $350 buy-in $500,000
Guarantee, Ultimate Re-entry No Limit Hold'em event, with eight starting
flights. Players could win $2,500 Multi Stack Payouts for each additional
flight they survive after their first. The popular event generated 4,075
entries - the largest field in Florida poker history - and resulted in a
prize pool of $1,222,500, more than doubling the guarantee.

"We are thrilled with the success of this year's Lucky Hearts Poker Open,"
said Jason Newman, director of poker marketing for Seminole Gaming. "The
Ultimate Re-entry No Limit Hold'em kick-off event produced a prize pool of
$1.2 million, crushing the $500,000 guarantee. The positive response to the
unique structure was evident in the 4,075 entries. Partnering with the
WPTDeepStacks and bringing a mid-major to Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
as our Main Event also gave us the opportunity to offer players something
different than they are typically used to seeing in January. With 1,684
entries and final prize pool that exceeded $1.5 million, we couldn't be

The Main Event drew poker stars from around the world including Matt
Affleck, Allen Kessler, Kathy Liebert, 2010 WSOP November Niner John Dolan,
WPTDeepStacks Player of the Year Tristan Wade, former WPT Player of the Year
Mukul Pahuja, WPT World Champion Asher Conniff, and 2010 WSOP Main Event
Champion Jonathan Duhamel.

The nine finalists were Salomon Ponte, Edward Mallon, Thong Ho, Harrison
Gimbel, Kenneth Watson, Michael LaRocca, Ryan D'Angelo, Zack Goodman and
Paul Balzano.

The heads-up match between Mallon and Ponte had several lead changes, but
Ponte was the top player on the last hand, winning the 2016 Seminole Hard
Rock Lucky Hearts Poker Open, earning the coveted trophy and the $344,420
top prize. Mallon received $192,885 for second place.


1st:        Salomon Ponte (Toronto, ON) - $344,420
2nd:       Edward Mallon (Boynton Beach, FL) - $192,885
3rd:        Thong Ho (N Charleston, SC) - $139,730
4th:        Harrison Gimbel (Jupiter, FL) - $93,915
5th:        Kenneth Watson (Montego Bay, JM) - $66,525
6th:        Michael LaRocca (Boynton Beach, FL) - $56,740
7th:        Ryan D'Angelo (Endwell, NY) - $48,260
8th:        Zack Goodman (Boca Raton, FL) - $31,630
9th:        Paul Balzano (Sunrise, FL) - $27,390

(This following News Brief Courtesy of Ante Up magazine)

Mike Postle is Ante Up Poker Tour POYJanuary 25, 2016  By Scott Long

Mike Postle said he never thought he’d play enough events to be in consideration for a player-of-the-year title. But after Postle began a heater at the Ante Up NorCal Classic in November, he learned he might not be right about that.

“I remember hearing about being on the leaderboard after a couple of cashes and then my first HORSE win, but again, due to not playing as much, it never crossed my mind of having a chance,” said the poker pro from Rancho Cordova, Calif. He then embarked on a whirlwind end to the last AUPT series of the year to earn just enough points to be named the Ante Up Poker Tour’s 2015 Player of the Year.

Postle, who won five nights in a suite at Thunder Valley Casino Resort for the 2016 Ante Up World Championship, a $250 resort dining credit and a personalized Player of the Year Ante Up jacket, said winning the title probably means more to him than it would to other players.

“First, being that I was very close to the top in a number of leaderboards online back in the day but never dedicated the time necessary to actually win one. For live events, I’ve just never played anywhere near enough of them,” said Postle, who played extensively online before Black Friday and now concentrates on live cash games and tournaments. “Second, between my online days when my then-girlfriend had two children from a previous marriage and now where I have one of my own since 2010, it’s just so much harder to dedicate the time to do everything you’d sometimes like to be able to do in poker or anything really.”

Postle started playing card games at age 4, and broke into gaming as a dealer at a Wisconsin casino before moving to Tunica, Miss., where he enjoyed most of his success as a player. He had big cashes in World Poker Tour events in Aruba and Tunica, narrowly missing out on appearing on Ante Up’s cover as well, before moving to the Sacramento, Calif., area for the birth of his daughter, Annabella, in 2010.

“Poker has been my sole income since 2004, which gets harder and harder as the years go by but has allowed me to travel more in the last 10 years and have more fun and experiences than probably 99 percent of people do in their lifetime, so I’m extremely blessed and thankful,” Postle said.

All cashers in all AUPT events earned POY points based on a formula that weighs the number of entrants heavier than buy-in, with a premium placed on winning events. Postle got on the leaderboard in a big way when he had three cashes in the Ante Up World Championship in August, but it was a strong start at the Ante Up NorCal Classic at Thunder Valley in November that vaulted him into the POY conversation.

Postle cashed in two of the first three events and then his victory in Event 5 put him tantalizingly close to overtaking then-points leader Christian Francia, who had won the massive main event at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in July. Problem was, so were two of Postle’s friends, Darrel Dier and Sean Drake, who ended up third and fourth on the leaderboard, respectively, but remained in contention as Day 2 of the NorCal Classic main event resumed. After Dier and Drake were eliminated, Postle had to finish 26th or better to overtake Francia and he needed to fade Dier and Drake if they entered either of the last two events of the series.

“After accumulating a big stack for the majority of Day 1, going into Day 2, for the first time in my life, I think I debated heavily on my strategy, which previously has always been to go with my instincts and play to win, never wavering when I feel like I have the best hand,” Postle said. “Of course, this is why I usually have a big stack or end up with heartbreak right before the money since I’m known to put pressure on shortly before we get in the money and being more aggressive than most due to the passive nature of most players at that point. After losing a couple of hands, I had to battle just to get to 26th. What happened between 35 players remaining to when I busted in ninth all-in preflop three ways holding A-A ended up being one of the best poker tourney decision-making stretches ever for me, though it once again ended in a disappointment.”

Disappointment, that is, in not winning the main event and its big payday, but not in finally achieving that elusive goal of being a player of the year.

POY final standings

Mike Postle, 1,453.05
Christian Francia, 1,367
Darrel Dier, 1,144.03
Sean Drake, 1,113.67
James Sloat, 1,060.19
Hieu Le, 1,024.7
Danny Gonzalez,1,003.74
Ryan Teves, 966.62
John Farmer, 964.16
Dong Nguyen, 927.65
Nils Dahlin, 912.63

No one likes a self-aggrandizing poker champion, especially when he has no success to base it on.
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