Northern Lights Casino Recap
Cards flew late into the night, but eventually, a winner was crowned. The newest HPT champion is Moorhead, Minnesota resident Mark Sandness as he took down the Northern Lights event and a first place prize of $53,199 (plus a $3000 HPT Championship Open Tournament seat package). It was a very long day for Sandness who awoke Sunday morning at 4am to drive to the event in time for the 8 am start. Twenty one hours later, Sandness was grinning over a wad of cash during his final TV interview.
“This is pretty cool,” said Sandness. “It’s funny because I got into a little argument with my girlfriend about coming to this. She had other plans for me today. I guess it worked out.”
Sandness, who owns and manages investment real estate, entered the final table as one of the chip leaders. He managed to avoid a lot of big pots early, then won a couple coin flips as the clock struck midnight, taking the chip lead. Sandness finally took down the championship when his K/8 overtook 2nd place finisher Larry Barbetta’s A/4.
“It’s been a very long day” continued Sandness. “The final table was really a grind. But it was fun. They were all good players and really good guys.”
Sandness said he was going to buy something nice for his girlfriend and take the rest of his winnings and invest in some more rental property.
For the Heartland Poker Tour it was a return trip to the Northern Lights casino, host of the very first HPT event in June of 2005. Much has changed in those two plus years as the HPT events continue to grow in popularity.
“I think we had a really great event,” said Rob Premo, Northern Lights VP of Table Games. “We had lots of players, the poker room and the entire casino was hopping all weekend.”
The event drew several hundred players to play in the satellites, cash games, and qualifiers. Sunday morning saw the start of the main event with a field of 136 players, most of which won their way to the final day through the HPT qualifying system.
The HPT is entering a very busy stretch with several events over the next few months. The next stop on the tour will be the Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk CO followed the next week with a return to The Lucky Nugget Casino in Deadwood SD. Both events promise to be very large as the HPT’s following in the mountain states is strong.
“We’re going to have a whirlwind schedule the next few months” said Todd Anderson, HPT co-founder. “I know the people in Colorado have been anxious to have an event and with help from our friends at the Golden Gates Casino, we finally got one put together.”
After a busy October, the HPT will have two events in November, the first at Meskwaki Casino in Tama Iowa, followed by a first time event at Casino Del Sol in Tucson AZ. After Arizona, the HPT will finish out the 2007 schedule with The HPT Championship open at Majestic Star Casino in Gary IN.
“We’ll definitely crack the one million dollar prize pool mark at Majestic” said Anderson. “I think we can safely predict a record prize pool for us to finish off the year at Majestic.”
Anderson added that the 2008 schedule of events is nearly complete and will be announced within the next couple weeks.