New Mexico-Route 66 Casino Hotel

Route 66 Casino Hotel
Albuquerque, New Mexico
May 17-May 27, 2013
Congratulations to Roger Martin for taking home 
$39,082 and the HPT Championship Package!  

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New Mexico-Route 66 Casino Hotel Quick Summary

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New Mexico-Route 66 Casino Hotel Top 9

First Place

Roger Martin
Grand Junction, CO

Second Place

Cruz Baca
Albuquerque, NM

Third Place

Allen Kessler
Las Vegas, NV

Fourth Place

Craig Casino
Winfield, IL

Fifth Place

Kris Wagner
Albuquerque, NM

Sixth Place

John Michalak
Cleveland, OH

Seventh Place

Norman Michalek
Norman, NJ

Eighth Place

Thomas Montoya
Albuquerque, NM

Ninth Place

Christopher Vargas
Gallum, NM


New Mexico-Route 66 Casino Hotel Top 9 Finishers

PlacePlayerCashPoints Earned
1. Roger Martin $39,082 63
2. Cruz Baca $24,426 56
3. Allen Kessler $15,999 50
4. Craig Casino $11,602 48
5. Kris Wagner $8,549 45
6. John Michalak $6,717 35
7. Norman Michalek $5,862 33
8. Thomas Montoya $5,252 30
9. Christopher Vargas $4,641 28

New Mexico-Route 66 Casino Hotel Recap

Points Race Heats Up in Albuquerque

Albuquerque, NM (May 27, 2013) After a marathon heads-up battle lasting 66 hands, retired performer Roger Martin of Grand Junction, Colorado was the last man standing at HPT’s latest stop in New Mexico.  He started the heads-up match trailing Cruz Baca with over a three-to-one disadvantage. At one point during the rollercoaster, Martin and Baca flipped chip counts and Martin held the same lead Baca once had.  After an exhausting thirteen hours of Final Table play, the stacks were dead even. In the end, it was Martin with all the chips when his ace-queen caught two queens on the board to beat Baca's pocket nines. Baca takes home $24,426 while Martin collects $39,082 and the championship title.


“I'm thrilled to be here,” Martin said, “There are some big name players.  Just to be competing with them is awesome. All the TVs and cameras…it’s just surreal, I'm kind of dreaming right now.” 


Baca, a retiree from Albuquerque, picked up something just as coveted by the players in the Memorial Day tournament: the Player of the Year lead.  Baca, the runner-up from HPT’s season launch with Card Player Cruises, now leads with 96 points.  As HPT wraps the first half of the 2013 season, many tour regulars arrived at Route 66 Casino Hotel for one last points push before the summer break.  The top five leading the race all rose to the top at Route 66, including John Michalak, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Martin, and Craig Casino.  Their next chance to advance is at Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana August 9-18th.


“My intent is to catch the rest of the HPT tournaments to get the POY.  It means a lot to me, gives me satisfaction to prove myself as a poker player,” said Baca, adding “The HPT events in my book are well run, I like the structure, and the friendliness of the management and the crew makes it a great experience.”


Well-known pro Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler rode the short stack all the way to third place, his best HPT run to date. His tournament came to an end when he moved all-in with seven-six off-suit and Baca called with ace-eight. It was a profitable weekend for Kessler who added $15,999 in tournament winnings to the $20,000 he won when he hit a royal flush on video poker.


“The HPT structure is the best structure for this buy-in,” said Kessler, who is often vocal about tournament structures. “The whole HPT environment is a friendly atmosphere and I just like playing the events.”


Past champ Craig Casino called off all his chips on a queen-jack high board after the turn with pocket aces.  Baca called holding queen-jack for two pair. Casino collected $11,602 in fourth place.  A third-place finish or better would have made him the all-time money leader, surpassing Greg Raymer. He now sits $3,211 behind Raymer.


Three hands before his departure, Casino eliminated Kris Wagner of Albuquerque.  The auto shop owner saw the best ROI of the weekend, investing just $180 in the tournament and grinding his short stack to fifth place.  His tournament came to an end when he ran his ace-six into the ace-jack of Casino. Both players flopped a pair but Wagner was unable to catch a second one to remain at the televised Final Table. The $8,549 he earned will go towards home improvement projects.


Local gambler Thomas Montoya finished in eighth place when he ran his pocket sevens into the pocket aces of John Michalak. The ace on the flop sealed the deal sending Montoya out with $5,252, a nice return on the $360 investment in his first HPT event.  “I have been watching HPT for a while,” said Montoya, “I have had this date circled on my calendar for a while now.”


It took 53 hands between the second and third elimination when Norman Michalek was knocked out. He moved all-in from late position and was called by Craig Casino. When Michalek's ten-seven couldn't hit against Casino's ace-ten, he was eliminated in seventh place collecting $5,862.


After waiting so long for the seventh-place elimination, it only took seven hands for John Michalak to get eliminated. He moved all-in with ace-king and was called by Martin who held pocket tens. A ten appeared on the flop giving Martin a set of tens.  Michalak, a concert promoter from Cleveland, was unable to improve, eliminating him in sixth place for $6,717. This is Michalak’s third cash in the last four HPT tournaments and his second Final Table this year.  “POY is in the front of my mind, I'm gunning for it,” he said just before play began, “I’m going to be fighting hard today and in future events as well.”


The first elimination of the day came with fireworks when Charles Vargas of Gallup, New Mexico and Martin got all of their chips in the middle.  Vargas held pocket kings, but he was at risk against Martin’s aces. The flop delivered a king but the turn produced an ace. The local barbershop owner was eliminated in ninth place collecting $4,641.


Although he was the first to go, HPT has likely not seen the last of Vargas.  “The HPT is awesome, the staff is great,” said Vargas, “The structure is brilliant…it’s an amazing structure.”


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