On Saturday, June 7, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa (SHRT) hosted an invite-only, $250,000 winner takes all bracket blackjack tournament inside of the Hard Rock Cafe. Players were led past custom felt ropes into the ring, which was set up for the boxing themed tournament. Stakes were high and the Hard Rock Cafe was bustling with people and tension, as crowds came to see who would leave with the quarter-million dollar prize. Four initial rounds and one final hand would decide who the lucky player would be. Two players sat at each table, both with nine hands per game and their tenth hand a “secret bet”.
The $250,000 cash prize was perched in a glass casing on the stage reminding each of the players just what they were playing for. Starting promptly at 8:40pm, the emcee started to hype the players for the tournament that was about to begin. Four of the 2014 Hard Rock Calendar Girls, dressed as ring girls, stood alongside of blackjack dealers costumed as referees. Together they stood inside of a makeshift boxing ring assisting in the bracket selection and tournament rounds.
Roughly four hours later, the final round of the tournament began. All that was certain now was that someone was leaving home with the quarter-million dollar prize. Cameras were set up, eager to capture who would win the final hand. Those, who didn’t have the opportunity to have a front row seat watched on TVs displayed throughout the cafe. The cash prize now laid in front of the remaining players, dazzling them with the notion that at any moment, it could all be theirs.
The cash prize went home with Mr. Bill T who beat the dealer with . The lucky winner collected his prize and the crowd was thrilled with excitement. However, no one could be called a loser on Saturday. Each of the participating players went home with a Macbook Air and a million memories from their legendary night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
Photos courtesy of David Galindo