Florida - Daytona Beach KC & Poker Room Recap
HPT Gains Momentum in Florida
Daytona Beach, FL (October 15, 2012) – The fourth quarter looks to be strong for Heartland Poker Tour, the nationally-televised tour in the homestretch of its eighth season. At their most recent event at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room, the field increased by 35% over HPT’s February visit to the property. The prize pool was over $70,000 richer in Daytona this weekend than it was at a successful stop just two weeks ago at River City Casino in St. Louis. HPT officials expect the momentum to continue to build at the last four stops in 2012. The next event is already underway at Prairie Meadows Casino Hotel in Altoona, Iowa and early satellites have been exceedingly popular.
Salesman Andy Denick of Rockledge, Florida is also having a good year in poker. He took down a tournament in April for $9k and was runner-up in a WPT event in July for $41,000. Earning $138,187 for the win Monday, HPT’s latest stop was his most profitable tournament yet.
The championship didn’t come easy for Denick. Pro Jeremy Joseph of Hallandale Beach, Florida proved resilient from the start as he bought into the re-entry event five times. Advancing to the televised Final Table with more chips than the other five players combined, Joseph was a dominating threat throughout much of the nine-hour Final Table. In the final hand, Denick flopped a seven to Joseph’s double gutter, sealing Joseph’s fate as runner-up for $78,166.
The event in the Sunshine State attracted many HPT regulars and notable players. Two players of World Series of Poker glory got paid in Daytona. HPT Tour Ambassador Darvin Moon earned a respectable 24th-place finish after starting the day with a below average stack. Second in chips at the start of Day 2 was 2012 WSOP October Niner Robert Salaburu who was eliminated in eighth place for $14,796. Salaburu will play for $8.5 million when the WSOP Main Event resumes in just two weeks.
Other notables collecting paychecks Sunday included accomplished players Harrison Gimbel, Chad Batista, Stan Jablonski and Elon Diamond. Julian "Logan" Melancon added an 18th-place finish to the fourth and ninth he’s gotten on HPT already this year. “Many pros enjoy this stop and HPT attracts them,” said Poker Room Manager Dom Niro.
Trevor Renner of Copley, Ohio is not a professional player but has followed the tour throughout the year. After playing several events, the medical recruiter finally found success in Daytona, earning $33,500 in fifth place. He’ll spend part of his winnings to join HPT on a seven-day cruise to kick off Season 9. HPT on the High Seas will be the first offshore event for HPT, a fitting start for what is anticipated to be a big year for the tour.
HPT Producer Fred Bevill said viewers will see many upgrades to the show in 2013. “As we wrap up the year, we’ll make some major announcements for our next season.” HPT Director of Operations Jen Mastrud said players will also see tournament upgrades such as a revised structure and new casino partners. “There has never been a better time to play HPT,” she said.
In episodes filmed recently, the TV audience will see more women on the show as female players continue to excel on HPT. Finishing in the money last month made Mary Flurkey the highest-earning woman on HPT with over $150k. The recent stop in St. Louis was only the second TV table in HPT history to have two women. Alona Sushynina and Penelope Banhidy finished third and fifth respectively. The last woman standing in Daytona was Anne “Shari” Amato who finished fourth for $43,271. She also wins bragging rights at home as her husband, Amelio Amato, had a deep run of his own but was eliminated in 11th place.
Nick Schwarmann of Daytona Beach made a return visit to HPT’s Final Table as the short stack one year after winning the same event. Schwarmann held the chip lead for most of Sunday's action before losing a big hand to Joseph when play was ten-handed. Joseph was again a problem for Schwarmann on Monday, flopping an eight for his ace-eight when Schwarmann was all in with ace-queen. The hand was the first elimination of the day, sending Schwarmann to the rail in sixth place for $27,247.
Last October, Schwarmann likely took some of Fletcher McKinney’s chips with him on his way to the championship. The insurance salesman from Eagle Lake, Florida bubbled the TV table a year ago. He got redemption at HPT’s latest stop, grinding through a field of 374 players to earn one of the six coveted seats at the Final Table. His trip to the HPT set was worth the wait; McKinney ascended to third place for $50,250.