Florida - Daytona Beach KC & Poker Room Recap
HPT Kickstarts Season 8 in Daytona Beach
20-Year-Old Wins $105k
Daytona Beach, FL – (February 13, 2012) Twenty-year-old Joey Chalbaud was determined to play his first major tournament when Heartland Poker Tour rolled into the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room. He hoped to win enough to take a cruise, buy a car, and share with his mom. The Lake Mary, Florida student wasn’t discouraged when he finished one place short of winning his way in through four qualifier attempts. He ultimately paid the $1650 Main Event buy-in for his first TV tournament and was glad he did. “I like the structure. I like everything about it,” said Chalbaud about his experience on HPT. He also liked the $105,177 he earned as the first HPT champion of 2012.
The event in the Sunshine State marked the start of HPT’s eighth season. Located near the Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room was chosen as the site of HPT’s season kick-off after a successful stop on the tour last October. The property, a major entertainment destination on the Central Florida Coast, offers a high-tech facility with a fifty-table poker room. Reigning Florida champ Nick Schwarmann was spotted in the field, but was unsuccessful in his attempt at a repeat finish.
Persistence also paid off for Barry Hutter of Bradenton, Florida. Although the pro player was eliminated twice from the Main Event, HPT’s new re-entry option allows players to buy in to multiple flights when knocked out. The third time was a charm for the 25-year-old who went on to make the televised Final Table. As the short stack, Hutter was satisfied with his fifth-place finish. He adds $25,120 to his $200,000 in lifetime tournament winnings.
The new structure, which includes more playing time, was highly praised throughout the weekend by players at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room. “I definitely like the HPT structure,” said Troy Wallace of Port Orange, Florida. “I’ll play more of them.” The 26-year-old finished 14th when HPT last visited Daytona Beach, improving to fourth place Monday for $32,676.
In contrast to the twenty-somethings at the table was Enos Smith of Palm Coast, Florida. At 58, he was more than twice the age of some of the young guns at the table, an advantage in his opinion. “I think I am wiser and more patient,” he said. Smith had the patience to work his way through the satellite system. His time turned out to be a wise investment. Smith entered for just $120 and left with $59,225 as the runner-up.
Tony Lay of Oklahoma City has been looking forward to HPT’s eighth season. The nationally-televised poker tour was good to him in 2011. The 47-year-old from Oklahoma City made the Final Table in 2011 when HPT stopped at Downstream Casino Resort, then finished 12th at the “Last Call” event in Reno. Season 8 is looking just as lucrative for the pro player and father of two. His trip to the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room provided another televised Final Table and another $37,782 in third place.
Lay’s Reno finish gave him a head start for Player of the Year points in 2012. The bonus event in December offered points for Season 8’s revamped POY program, which now includes complimentary Main Event buy ins and hotel stays to the point leader come November’s Championship Open. Although the Daytona Beach event is just the first stop of a busy year on HPT, the POY race is already highly competitive. HPT regular Cliff Waite went deep in Reno and finished seventh in Florida, making him a strong contender. Past champ Eric Stocz also cashed in Florida following a fifth-place finish in Reno. Lay, Waite, and Stocz all plan to play HPT’s next stop at Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma later this month.
Some big names in poker turned out for the launch of HPT’s eighth season, including pros Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho who were both knocked out in day one. Darvin Moon, 2009’s WSOP Main Event runner up, had a successful weekend after being eliminated from the Main Event. Moon played and won a side tournament Sunday for $4600.
Jacksonville’s Michael McDonald was responsible for taking Moon out of one of the Main Event flights he played. “He is the nicest guy. I really enjoyed playing with him,” said McDonald, 47. He put Moon’s chips to good use, becoming the chip leader going into day two. Eventually, Chalbaud got the chips when he knocked McDonald out in sixth place for $20,423.
HPT producers will get to work on two one-hour episodes of the poker show, which will air nationwide in May. HPT programming can be seen in over 100 million U.S. homes, broadcasting on hundreds of stations 52 weeks each year. Station information is available at HPTpoker.com.