Carnival Breeze served as the venue for Carnival Cruise Line’s eighth annual Texas Hold’Em Challenge Tournament attracting nearly 400 players who battled it out to take home their share of $200,000 in cash prizes.  The winner, Warren Gregg Fund of Charleston, S.C., took home the grand prize of $75,000 cash and earned a seat in the Penn National Gaming Hollywood Poker Open (HPO) Championship Event taking place at the M Resort in Las Vegas on June 26, 2015.

As a special surprise, legendary world champion poker player Chris Moneymaker came on board Carnival Breeze to host the final table of the tournament, which was held during an eight-day Caribbean cruise from Miami last week.

Moneymaker, an official HPO ambassador, said he was looking forward to playing with the 12 winners from the Carnival Breeze in the Championship Event in Las Vegas next month. “The HPO brand is committed to finding new ways to award seats to their signature Championship Event and the tournament on Carnival Breeze was a fun and interesting way for players to qualify for this exciting tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing how these players do on our big stage in Las Vegas,” said Moneymaker.

Added Gayle Gullo, Penn National’s corporate vice president of marketing, “We enjoy a great partnership with Carnival Cruise Line and we’re thrilled their guests are among the field of participants in the HPO this year.  We wish their competitors the best of luck in Las Vegas at our upcoming Championship Event.”

The Carnival Texas Hold’Em Challenge brings together guests who qualified in a satellite tournaments hosted on the line’s ships throughout the year, earning their chance to play in the Grand Final event held aboard Carnival Breeze. “We are thrilled with the growth of our Texas Hold’Em Challenge over the past several years and our team does a great job at making the event bigger and better, while maintaining the unique atmosphere that keeps players coming back each year,” said Marty Goldman, Carnival’s senior vice president of casino operations. “We were especially thrilled to welcome poker legend, Chris Moneymaker, on board the beautiful Carnival Breeze and pleased to join with our valued partners Penn National Gaming be a part of their exciting Hollywood Poker Open next month,” Goldman added.

With last year’s prize pool reaching more than $1.5 million, Penn National expects this year’s Hollywood Poker Open to raise the bar even further by reaching $2 million. Players can buy in to the event, as well as win seats in their regional tournaments held across various Penn National Gaming properties.