Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN

Majestic Star Casino
Gary, Indiana
July 3 - August 3, 2009

Total Prize Pool: $436,224
1184 players in Qualifiers; 457 players in the Main Event
Congrats to Robert Whalen for taking home the "HPT Champion Jacket" and $129,967!

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Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Quick Summary

Please check out the full event write up below.

Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Top 6

First Place

Robert Whalen
Cudohy, WI

Second Place

Zachary Sheline
Middleton, WI

Third Place

Nicholas Andricopulos
Palos Park, IL

Fourth Place

Michael Farah
Grand Rapids, MI

Fifth Place

Bonnie Ravetto
Glendale Heights, IL

Sixth Place

Bryan Schultz
Carpentersville, IL


Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Top 46 Finishers

PlacePlayerCashPoints Earned
1. Robert Whalen $129,967 1,000
2. Zachary Sheline $64,984 750
3. Nicholas Andricopulos $38,990 600
4. Michael Farah $30,326 450
5. Bonnie Ravetto $25,993 400
6. Bryan Schultz $21,661 350
7. Eric Matulis $13,777 300
8. Matt Shepsky $11,784 250
9. Darius Kubiak $8,405 200
10. Keith Baker $6,975 150
11. Nikola Budzakoshi $5,935 100
12. Edward Harrison $5,415 95
13. Byron Booth $4,765 90
14. Harold Lim $4,116 85
15. Rodney Kreft $3,639 80
16. Martin Golden $3,076 75
17. Frank Swierczynski $3,076 70
18. Joe Chang $3,076 65
19. Boulos Estafanous $2,773 60
20. Donald Rice $2,773 55
21. Edward Blazer $2,209 50
22. Gary Kreymer $2,209 45
23. Brian Seanor $2,209 40
24. Greg Miller $2,209 35
25. Imari Love $2,209 30
26. Gerald Banach $1,733 25
27. Mark Oushanna $1,733 20
28. Eugene Ovsgannikov $1,733 15
29. Eugene Pouliot $1,733 10
30. Florence Bunal $1,733 5
31. Knud Dahlgaard $1,603 0
32. Joseph Lang $1,603 0
33. Jeffrey Oberlin $1,603 0
34. Jeff Blenkarn $1,603 0
35. Jared Keeling $1,603 0
36. Eric Stocz $1,343 0
37. Eric Eklund $1,343 0
38. Lyndon Goodly $1,343 0
39. Ross Tammen $1,343 0
40. Thomas Harbrecht $1,343 0
41. Kevin Klafeta $1,213 0
42. Jeremy Swineheart $1,213 0
43. James Keller $1,213 0
44. Cary Bone $1,213 0
45. Casey Enders $1,213 0
46. Dwight Chatham $1,213 0

Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Recap

Big Payday for Former House Painter

Gary, IN – Determined to secure a better future, 51-year-old Bob Whalen quit working as a house painter five years ago and concentrated on making a living playing poker.  The Cudahy, Wisconsin man began spending 50 to 60 hours per week playing in local casinos and never looked back.

“I haven’t had much money all of my life,” Whalen revealed, “I figured I could make more money playing poker.”

Finding plenty of noteworthy success along the way, his career move proved especially lucrative Monday afternoon at Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana.  Playing for a first-place prize of $129,967 on The Heartland Poker Tour, Whalen’s eight kicker was enough to make him the latest champion on the nationally-syndicated TV show, his biggest win to date.

When heads up against recent college grad Zachary Sheline, both men found themselves with a pair of queens after the flop.  Sheline’s inferior six kicker put him in second place, earning $64,984.  With a replenished bankroll and a small statue for good luck, the Wisconsin 23-year-old is Vegas bound for his own shot as a professional player.

Monday’s televised final table marks the tenth time The Heartland Poker Tour has stopped at Majestic Star Casino.   The riverboat casino in Gary, Indiana is making a name for itself with those hungry for a big win on TV.  “Because we’ve hosted the HPT multiple times, we run a smooth operation,” says Majestic Star Poker Room Manager Dominic Niro.  Heartland Poker Tour President Todd Anderson agrees.  “Our tournaments here run like a well-oiled machine,” he says, “The players know that and appreciate it.”  The HPT first visited Majestic Star Casino in 2006 and drew record attendance.  A stop at Majestic Star Casino in 2007 holds the record for the largest payout in the production company’s history.  Over $835,000 was awarded at that event.

Aspirations to win big on TV motivated Nick Andricopulis to enter.  Although his pocket fives didn’t stand up against Whalen’s pocket tens, the restaurant owner from Palos Park, Illinois was pleased with his $38,990 third-place finish.  “I’m living the dream,” he said before heading back home to run Nick’s Barbecue Ribs.

Another entrepreneur in the restaurant and bar industry, Mike Farah, is determined to win a big tournament at some point in his life.  “It’s my turn,” the Grand Rapids, Michigan man said as he took his seat at the final table.  A third queen on the flop for Whalen proved otherwise when Farah went all in with king-queen.  His $30,326 paycheck for fourth place will help renovate a new bar he is opening soon.

The unexpected guest at the table Monday was 63-year-old granny and homemaker Bonnie Ravetto.   Grateful for the financial support of her husband throughout their marriage, Ravetto is hoping to return the favor with her poker winnings.  Laid off just two months ago, Frank Ravetto watched from the rail as his sweet-as-pie wife cleaned house against more experienced players.  After boldly doubling up a couple of times with all-in calls, a pair of aces against her king-two put her in fifth place with a $25,993 addition to her retirement fund.

Nearly a third her age, college student Bryan Schultz of Carpentersville, Illinois finished sixth with ace-six against ace-king.  His $21,661 prize is one of many big poker payouts already on his resume.  When the 22-year-old graduates from Illinois State University later this year, he will no doubt put his accounting degree to good use.