Six poker players competed Tuesday at BestBet Jacksonville for a record-setting $1.5 million prize pool, the largest-ever non-casino tournament prize pool in Florida's history, and a Miami Beach native came out on top.
Noah Schwartz, the first-place winner, took home $403,000 from the final table in the World Poker Tour tournament, which was open to the public and was livestreamed on www.WorldPokerTour.com.
More than 3,200 players from across the United States and Canada flocked to Jacksonville over the past two weeks to compete in the WPT Fall Poker Scramble tournament. Nearly 500 players competed in the main event, including poker celebrities Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Matt Glantz, Brian Hastings, Jason Koon, Jason Mercier and John Racener. None of the celebrities made it to today's final table.
When the Florida state Legislature removed limits on poker buy-ins and poker room hours two years ago, many anticipated that Florida would become a major player in the world of poker. However, much of the focus was on South Florida, not Jacksonville. BestBet Jacksonville changed the game, with the River City now leading the state in poker revenue.
After opening in March this year, BestBet has become one of the World Poker Tour's more popular venues. It features 70 tables, with poker at all limits and simulcast wagering on greyhounds and thoroughbreds.
In addition to building the state-of-the-art facility, BestBet hired top-tier industry executives like former executive director of poker operations for Wynn Las Vegas, Deborah Giardina, to be lead its poker operations.
Giardina says the quality and number of players participating in the Fall Poker Scramble are testament to BestBet Jacksonville's vision and commitment to creating a world-class poker experience.
"When players visit BestBet Jacksonville and experience the quality of our facility, from the tables, chairs, the room, and our staff, we are confident they'll be back," Giardina said. "It is truly one of the country's best poker venues, hands down."
For more information on BestBet Jacksonville and the Fall Poker Scramble, visit www.bestbetjax.com.