It is exceedingly difficult to predict who will make a final table of six in a field with well over 1,000 entries. But if you took Gediminas Uselis prior to the start of play in each of the last two years in the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, your betting ticket would have paid out.
In November 2021, Uselis won the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, taking home $778,490 and a permanent spot in World Poker Tour history. The following year, Uselis booked a spot at the final table for the second consecutive year, ultimately finishing fifth for another $219,000 when he ran headfirst into eventual champion Andrew Wilson’s pocket kings.
It was not the first time Uselis and Wilson had clashed, though. Back in August of 2020, during an online WSOP bracelet event, the pair got heads up for the title in the $400 buy-in event with Uselis ultimately coming through to win the bracelet and $227,186.
After the performances Uselis has had over the last two years in this Championship Event, it’s easy to understand why Uselis came back to play again in 2023. He was one of more than 500 players who showed up early on Day 1A Friday with the hope of playing all the way through to Wednesday’s final table.
“I’m feeling great,” said Uselis. “I mean, it feels like my stop. I can’t miss this one, so I’m here for the third year in a row.”
ICYMI: Watch the amazing final hand of the WPT @SHRPO Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open Main Event.
Jack in the window for @JakeInThaGrass, but a queen follows behind it to give Gediminas Uselis the win and the title.
? – Catch up with the live updates here: https://t.co/RrjjyYAnrz pic.twitter.com/opXLmNEJUn
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) December 2, 2021
What’s more interesting is what initially drew Uselis, who is from Lithuania, down to South Florida in the first place.
“It’s always a pretty good field,” said Uselis. “They get a lot [of money] up top. Also, I stay in Mexico during this time of the year, so it’s a pretty easy trip. A two-hour flight, maybe even less. And, I mean, everything’s great in Miami.”
Uselis has been coming to the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood for a while now. He has tournament results in South Florida dating all the way back to 2017 when he final tabled a $5,000 side event during the Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open that was eventually won by David Peters.
And while it’s pretty hard to judge which direction a tournament is going to go on Day 1, unless it heads south in a hurry, Uselis is once again off to the kind of start most players dream of when they first sit down.
“Yeah, I instantly doubled up,” said Uselis. “Got lucky with ace-king against kings. So pretty good, like all [of the previous] days.”
If that luck continues for Uselis, he hopes to continue an even more impressive trend that he’s been on over the last three years. While many top names sometimes have to take a couple of shots at buying into a tournament of this size, during this run, Uselis has not yet had to re-enter a single time.
“The first two times [I made the final table], it was on my first bullet,” Uselis said. “Things are going pretty good, so I can see it.”
For most of the last year, Uselis has taken some time away from the game of poker. While he played some Online Poker while in Mexico for his annual trip, he’s largely been able to enjoy some of the fruits of his labor while carefully picking his spots.
“This year, I skipped a lot of poker,” said Uselis. “Usually, in any year, I’ll go to maybe four or five stops. Going to Vegas, and coming here [to Florida] maybe a couple times even, because they have three or four really good tournaments.”
Still, in just six cashes since his fifth-place finish in the 2022 Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open last November, Uselis recorded a win in a 2023 PokerStars Players Championship side event, a final table in a high roller in Vietnam and a fifth-place finish in another online WSOP bracelet event over the summer.
As for his dreams of a third consecutive final table here, Uselis is happy to take things one step at a time. When asked directly if making such a run is something he can seriously consider, Uselis took a realistic, yet optimistic tone.
“That’s a tough question for now,” said Uselis. “Maybe I’ll answer it in a couple more days.”