2023 Tampa Poker Classic
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
$1,100 Deep Stack Six-Handed NLH (Re-Entry)
Prize Pool: $104,760
September 12, 2023
AJ Kelsall added $28,420 to his career earnings of more than $2.8 million when took home the title in Event 11 at the SPS tournament series at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. The local resident was born in Pennsylvania, and you need to look no further than his fandom for Philadelphia sports teams to see that first hand.
Kelsall holds a World Series of Poker gold bracelet, and he has three WSOP Circuit gold rings as well. Kelsall has nine tournament victories in his career (including numerous wins here at SHR Tampa), and the largest tournament score he has claimed was worth $443,259 for a third-place finish in a six-max no-limit hold’em event earlier this year at the WSOP.
We caught up with Kelsall shortly after the victory, and here is what he had to say after the win: “It definitely feels good, I have a few seconds and thirds lately, so it feels good to win one. I had some trophy bets so winning is good. I got 325 Allen Kessler dollars coming, that’s like 40 lunches at McDonald’s for him right there [laughs].”
There was a stretch of the final playdown where Kelsall went into “Fly Eagles Fly” mode and took four players in a row tonight. “I knocked out eighth through fourth, someone else knocked out third, and I obviously knocked out second, so I knocked out everyone else in the last eight. With maybe like nine or ten people left I had 100k, I was in the last two or three [stacks]. I knocked someone out over there to get it down to seven, and then knocked out two more people right away. So in probably ten minutes I knocked three people out, and then I was the chip leader,” said Kelsall about the hot run that took him to the top of the chip counts.
“Maybe I’m a six-max specialist [laughs], I don’t I know, I guess that’s a good thing to be. I really enjoy six-max because typically people play looser, there’s more good hands. Like ace-jack for instance is a much better hand in six-max than full rings. The guy I played heads-up was a decent player, but he was playing very tight the whole time. So six-max typically makes you play looser, but he wasn’t. It makes it a little bit more fun, and you get to play more,” said Kelsall when he was asked about his success in six-max events.
“I never chop, and part of the reason is because you don’t get heads-up and get that experience very often. So when I play in bigger things like the World Series like you were mentioning when I came third in that six-max, it’s good to have short-handed experience whether it’s four-handed, three-handed or heads-up for those bigger times. So for me when I play bigger things these experiences in some smaller tournaments I think really helps a lot,” Kelsall said when he was asked about heads-up battle that defined the tournament.
Kelsall made a good metaphor for the final stages of a poker tournament the other night when he stated that you wouldn’t stop playing on the 16th hole of a round of golf if everyone was tied when it comes to chops in poker. When he was asked about that after the hard-fought heads-up final tonight, Kelsall offered a few other sports analogies that were on point. “I’m a competitive guy so poker cures that competitive instinct for me. When it’s 4-4 in the ninth inning, or 28-28 in the fourth quarter in football, that’s the most exciting part of the game. That’s the exciting part, playing three-handed or heads-up. That’s why Steph Curry is so good, because when there’s a minute left he wants to have the ball. He doesn’t just say, ‘let’s just call it boys,’ right,” said Kelsall.
Kelsall will be playing every day the rest of the series, focusing primarily on mixed games while mixing in the big money no-limit hold’em events as well depending on the schedule of the day.
1st: AJ Kelsall – $28,420 + SPS Trophy
2nd: Blaise Ingoglia – $18,470
3rd: Sean Boland – $12,360
4th: Ryan Luker – $8,530
5th: Daniel Zucker – $6,070
6th: Ricardo Eyzaguirre – $4,470
7th: Mark Koeln – $3,400
8th: Johnny Bromberg – $3,400
9th: Oscar Lindo Zeledon – $2,670
10th: Tarun Gulati – $2,670
11th: Frank Bramman – $2,180
12th: Josh Snow – $2,180
13th: Ryan Mazurkiewicz – $1,850
14th: Felipe Koury – $1,850
15th Jeremy Joseph – $1,630
16th: James Tomblin – $1,630
17th: Amie Martini – $1,490
18th: Dana Caruso – $1,490