Iona Akelipa of Everett, Washington, headed home with $100,000, year-long bragging rights as the luckiest Three Card Poker player in the country, and a new wife after winning the Scientific Games 2015 Shuffle Master Classic Three Card Poker National Tournament on Monday, September 28 at The Venetian Las Vegas.
Akelipa promised his fiancée that if he won the tournament – and the six-figure payout – they would be headed to a wedding chapel. Both exploded with joy when Akelipa was dealt a straight in the final hand at the final table. 
“It was amazing,” he said. “It’s been awesome. Everything was first class. I have no words to describe it and now I’m getting married tonight!”
Scientific Games Corporation hosted the event, in which qualifying players competed for a total prize purse of $250,000. The championship event was held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Three Card Poker – the most popular proprietary casino card game in play today – as well as the Company’s legendary Shuffle Master poker table games.
Early this summer, a total of 87 players qualified for the tournament by hitting classic poker hands on eight popular Shuffle Master table games. A total of 216 casinos across the U.S. participated in the promotion.The qualifiers received $1,000 for travel and accommodations in Las Vegas and a seat in the tournament. Tournament players came from three countries and more than a dozen states, ranging in age from 24 to 82.
Scientific Games hosted an exclusive Shuffle Master Classic party on Sunday, September 27 to welcome the players, and a cocktail party during the final table on Monday.
The top seven players were awarded a share of the $250,000 purse. The winners were: Iona Akelipa of Everett, Washington, First Place $100,000; Lucas Kendall of Fenton, Missouri, Second Place $50,000; Jose Luis Sorto of Corinth, Texas, Third Place $30,000; Herman Auslander of Westminster, California, Fourth Place $25,000; John Doychich of Shelby Township, Michigan, Fifth Place $20,000; Paul Erikson of Sparks, Nevada, Sixth Place $15,000; Mary Leach of Huber Heights, Ohio, Seventh Place $10,000.
“We are thrilled about the huge success of this event,” said Derik Mooberry, Scientific Games Group chief executive, gaming. “The feedback from hundreds of our casino partners has been tremendous, and players had a great time competing in this national event. We congratulate the winners and wish everyone good luck the next time they play Shuffle Master games.”