Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN

Majestic Star Hotel and Casino
Gary, Indiana
April 15th - 27th, 2009
Total Prize Pool: $431,712
1237 players in Qualifiers; 452 players in the Main Event
Congrats to David Kiss for taking home the "HPT Champion Jacket" and $128,614!

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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

Dave Kiss
Hopkins, MI

Second Place

Brian Brenneke
Fort Wayne, IN

Third Place

Patrick Heneghan
Chicago, IL

Fourth Place

Matthew Stammen
Coldwater, OH

Fifth Place

Matthew Rizai
Glenview, IL

Sixth Place

Thomas James Faino
Muskegon, MI


Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Top 45 Finishers

PlacePlayerCashPoints Earned
1. Dave Kiss $128,614 1,000
2. Brian Brenneke $64,307 750
3. Patrick Heneghan $38,584 600
4. Matthew Stammen $30,010 450
5. Matthew Rizai $25,723 400
6. Thomas James Faino $21,436 350
7. Brian Roberts $14,019 300
8. Bret Clayton $12,004 250
9. Chad Hahn $8,574 200
10. David Backstrom $7,074 150
11. Douglas Rosenbaum $6,088 100
12. Scott Hoffman $5,488 95
13. Lee Polakoff $4,716 90
14. Bob Chow $4,073 85
15. James Guidi $3,601 80
16. David Andrews $3,044 75
17. Bill Dowell $3,044 70
18. Steve Cohen $2,744 65
19. John Verly $2,744 60
20. Adam Foster $2,744 55
21. Imari Love $2,186 50
22. Jeffrey Mattson $2,186 45
23. Steven Zakarias $2,186 40
24. Chad Lowry $2,186 35
25. Michael Aberle $2,186 30
26. Adam Carreno $1,715 25
27. Roger Vistain $1,715 20
28. Charlie Cibula $1,715 15
29. Micheal Carnaham $1,715 10
30. Hernan Crespo $1,715 5
31. Dan Zogman $1,586 0
32. Dragos Cojocaru $1,586 0
33. Shawn Greenwald $1,586 0
34. Myung Keun Shin $1,586 0
35. Anthony Bolanhood $1,586 0
36. Steve Sloan $1,329 0
37. Frank Lazar $1,329 0
38. Renee Dawnmarie Waishwell $1,329 0
39. Erik Roussakis $1,329 0
40. Jack Sears $1,329 0
41. Darold Donnelly $1,200 0
42. Don Eagen $1,200 0
43. Jason DeWitt $1,200 0
44. Shannon Fahey $1,200 0
45. Harry Walat $1,200 0

Majestic Star Casinos - Gary, IN Recap

Black Belt Fights His Way to HPT Championship

Gary, IN – In the early 90’s, Dave Kiss was a national champion in martial arts.  The fourth-degree black belt landed another championship Monday, earning the glory with cards instead of kicks.  The 48-year-old Hopkins, Michigan man became the latest Heartland Poker Tour Champ, winning $128,614 at Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana.

“It’s the same adrenaline rush as karate,”said Kiss, “without getting kicked in the head.”

Buying into the tournament for just $250, Kiss secured the win with pocket deuce against ace-nine.  When a set of queens emerged in the flop, Kiss’s mirrored glasses came off revealing a different side of the experienced fighter.  The single dad said, as he accepted the cash, that he plans to take his 13-year-old daughter shopping. 

Heads up against Kiss was software engineer Brian Brenneke, who made a spontaneous decision to play the Heartland tournament.  The Fort Wayne, Indiana man made a stop at The Majestic Star Casino to play a cash game.  Realizing the size of the prize pool, the 36-year-old father of two decided at the last minute to try for a main event seat by playing a $250 satellite qualifier.  He earned his spot in the field of 453, eventually scoring $64,307 in second place.  Brenneke, who had a failed attempt at an HPT event at Majestic Star in 2008, credits PokerVT for improving his game.  PokerVT, Daniel Negreanu’s virtual training site, sponsors the HPT along with PokerStars.NET.

Pat Heneghan, 56, represented neighboring Chicago at the final table.  The retired city worker promised to cut his curly dark hair if he won the championship.  Flush diamonds on the river against his jack pair resulted in a slow day for his barber and a $38,584 third-place finish. 

Monday’s tournament marks the eighth time The Majestic Star Casino hosted The Heartland Poker Tour in the Chicago area.  Poker room manager Dom Niro says the HPT is a perfect fit for the Lake Michigan riverboat.  “We’ve established ourselves as a value poker room, offering deep stacks for low buy-ins,” Niro says,“HPT’s $1100 main event buy-in caters to our players.”

The Heartland Poker Tour, established in 2005, aims to award “life-changing money” to “real people.” Affordable buy-ins and weekend tournaments attract poker enthusiasts who may not attempt more costly tournaments.

“Our casino partners note the benefit of retaining the field as customers after the cash is awarded at the final table”, says President Todd Anderson, “They come for the chance to play on TV, but they return for the love of the game.”   

Poker buddies Matt Stammen and Bryan Roberts of tiny Coldwater, OH play together at least once a week.  They both won their way into the main event, with Stammen knocking out Roberts on the bubble.  The 35-year-old Logistics Engineer met his own fate when he went all in with ace-king.  When the flop delivered a ten for Kiss’s ace-ten, Stammenwalked away in fourth place with $30,010.

Matt Rizai, originally from Istanbul, Turkey, enjoys the challenge of the game he calls “complicated.” The CEO of a SiliconValley technology company, Rizai thrives on the pressure of live tournament poker.  The hobby is also more lucrative than his other interests, marathon-running and scuba-diving; Rizai turned his $250 buy-in into $25,723.  Finishing in fifth place, Rizai’s hand became “complicated” when his king-jack lost to ace-high all in.    

More than just a casual player, Thomas Faino is a self-described “degenerate gambler”.  The 21-year-old earned a $21,436 boost to his bankroll when he finished in sixth place.  The professional player from Muskegon, Michigan, got burned by a queen on the turn with ace-king against ace-queen.  “That’s poker,” Faino said.