One would think that after the recent troubles at the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, which included a massive $2.5 million overlay – one of the largest in poker history – as well as an embarrassing $100K high roller snafu, that something would need to change.
Perhaps that change comes in the form of the resigning of Seminole Gaming's Director of Poker Marketing, Ray Stefanelli.
Rumor has it that Stefanelli will be leaving his senior marketing post at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida in the wake of the highly publicized troubles of the 2014 SHRPO.
Sources indicate that Stefanelli, who spent 7 years at the Borgata Casino as their Director of Poker Marketing prior to taking his position at SHR, is headed back to New Jersey to resume working in Atlantic City with the Borgata.
Is this a direct result of the mishaps of the 2014 SHRPO or simply because Borgata and their online arm of BorgataPoker.com are making waves in New Jersey? Was Stefanelli forced out or is Stefanelli simply going “back home?”
If we can speculate a little: It’s not too much of a stretch to think it’s a little of both. It’s likely that when there’s a $2.5M loss, someone is going to have to throw themselves on the sword and the Director of Poker Marketing would likely be the title of the guy who has to say that the “buck stops here.”
Simultaneously, Stefanelli did spend a good part of his career at the popular New Jersey casino, and as online poker continues to grow in the Garden State, Stefanelli could be looking to take up a new challenge with an old friend. The opportunities at Borgata, along with the troubles at the Hard Rock, could have presented him the perfect opportunity.
Either way, our sources have Stefanelli out at Seminole Hard Rock and back in at the Borgata, despite Stefanelli not having yet switched his social media profiles.
Also, does this mean we’ve seen the end of the $10M guarantee and the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (and Showdown)?
Update: Apologies are in order. In a previous version of this article we incorrectly credited Ray Stefanelli with the idea and success of the 2013 $10M Guarantee SHRPO. The credit for that seems to belong to Larry Mullin, the COO of Seminole Gaming. Ray was not on board during the successful 2013 campaign.
We’ve attempted to contact parties involved, we’ll update again if they ever get back to us.