Lucky Nugget Card Club Recap
In a town famous for lawlessness and gun slinging cowboys from the Old West, six poker players took aim at one another at an HPT final table in what can only be described as a good old fashion shootout. When the smoke cleared after only 64 hands of final table action, Scott Eckert, a painting contractor from Fargo, ND, took down the championship, leaving with a first place prize of $64,133, plus a prize package worth $3,000 into the year-end HPT Open Championship.
“This is terrific” said a nearly speechless Eckert. “I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally win something like this.”
With his Fargo contingent cheering him on in the audience, Eckert had to fight his way from the back of the pack, having entered final table action with the short stack of $250,000 in tournament chips. He got a huge break in the first couple hands when he moved all in after a flop of J-9-9 and was instantly called by one of the chip leaders, James Mutchler. Mutchler, who was making his third final table appearance on the HPT in 2007, had misread his hole cards, thinking his Q8 was actually Q9. The mistake allowed Eckert to double up early and get back into contention.
“That was a huge mistake” said Mutchler. “The weird thing is that’s actually happened to me once before with the exact same hand and I swore then that I’d always re-check my cards so it never happened again.”
Very much in line with the HPT’s ongoing theme of “real people” the final table consisted of a butcher, a painter, a construction manager, retired sheriff, poker dealer and a hunting guide. The spirit of the old west must have been in the air as the players went at each other fast and furious, creating the shortest final table in HPT history.
Early on it was the retired county sheriff who controlled the action and built a big chip lead. De Glassgow, 59, was born in Deadwood and spent several years as the county sheriff in nearby Custer County. Now retired, Glassgow certainly looked the part of a Deadwood gunfighter, dressed in a leather vest, boots and a black cowboy hat. The former sheriff ruled the table for the first hour and had a respectable chip lead midway through the final table match. At one point, he had eventual champ Eckert, all in and in deep trouble with A7 vs. A3, but a lucky river card paired the board and gave Eckert a split pot. The crippling blow for Glassgow occurred when there were three players remaining. In a hand versus eventual second place finisher James Mutchler, Mutchler moved all in on a board of 6 – 8 – 9 and was instantly called by Glassgow. Mutchler frowned as he turned over A9 for top pair top kicker and Glassgow turned over K10 for a gut shot straight draw with two over cards. In the spirit of a true gambler, Glassgow missed his chance at almost a sure HPT victory and eventually took third place.
“I really thought he (Glassgow) had it won when we got to three handed,” said Eckert. “He was playing great and I was in trouble with the short stack. It’s unbelievable how it turned out.”
For Mutchler, the huge pot seemed to position him for his first HPT championship. However, the third time at an HPT final table wasn’t the charm for Mutchler, who lost his chip lead on the very first heads up hand when his straight fell to Eckert’s flush. From there it only took a few hands more for Eckert to close it out.
“What can I say…I’m really bummed” said Mutchler. “I can’t stop thinking about that hand early on when I misread my cards and doubled him (Eckert) up. One of these days I’m going to win one of these things.”
The good news for Mutchler is the second place HPT finish gives him the lead in the point standing for HPT Player of the Year award. With three events remaining in 2007, Mutchler is in good shape to complete the year and win the POY award.
As for Eckert, he was looking ready to celebrate his win with his poker playing buddies, including his friend Allison, who recently finished 7th in an HPT event (on the final table bubble), and cheered him on from the front row.
“I’m really not sure what I’m going to do with the money,” said Eckert. “I guess I’ll pay some bills and maybe play in some bigger tournaments.”
The Heartland Poker Tour is in the homestretch for its 2007 season, with three more events to go. The HPT will be in Tama, Iowa starting Sunday October 28th at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, followed by a first ever trip to Casino Del Sol in Tucson, AZ, in mid November, and wrap up the year with the HPT Championship Open at Majestic Star Casinos in Gary, Indiana.