Pittsburgh, PA - The Meadows Casino Recap
Wins Six Figures on HPT
Meadows Casino hosts tour’s first event in Pennsylvania
Washington, Pennsylvania (November 6, 2017) – Poker enthusiasts
in the Pittsburgh market have been asking for a Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) event for quite some time. This week,
the nationally recognized tour made its first visit to the area with a series
at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino. It was an event that Austin Wentling won’t soon forget. The local man was crowned Main
Event champion on Monday to the tune of $102,248.
The last several hands of the tournament were among the
most memorable in HPT history. Wentling, a semi-pro poker player from
Monroeville, found himself heads up against business owner John Yocca from Venetia. The two battled back and forth and were
both within one card of winning the tournament multiple times, only to be
outdrawn by the other.
On the final hand, they got all of the chips in the middle
with Yocca holding ace-queen to Wentling’s pocket twos. An ace on the turn
caused Yocca to celebrate, but the river two gave Wentling the winning hand and
sent Yocca to the exit in second place with $62,502. Wentling’s rail of
supporters erupted and swarmed the new champ with hugs and cheers.
“I’ve got some good friends,” said Wentling after the
event. “They were very enthusiastic. They’re happy for me. I love those guys.
It was definitely special to have them here.”
In impressive fashion, Wentling only had $135 invested in
the tournament after winning his seat through one of HPT’s signature qualifiers
earlier in the week. There were 462 total entries in the Main Event which
created a prize pool of $448,140. More than double the $200,000 guarantee that
The Meadows had placed on the event. Among the notables to play over the course
of the weekend were Darvin Moon, Craig Casino, Stan Jablonski, Cord Garcia, and
McFall started the day with the most chips. Like many poker players in the
area, this was McFall’s first time playing in an HPT event. He certainly made
the best of it, making a run at the title all day before being ousted by Yocca
in third place for a $41,431 payday.
Salem, Ohio business owner Mark Bowersock exited in fourth place when his top pair was
outkicked by McFall. He earned $28,806 for his efforts. Shortly before
Bowersock’s departure, Casey Yontz
was also eliminated at the hands of McFall when his ace-six failed to outdraw
his opponent’s ace-queen. Yontz collected $21,560 for the fifth-place finish.
Operations manager John
Kulp stayed quiet most of the day, climbing the pay ladder by letting the
other players eliminate one another. The Cranberry Township resident eventually
made his move with pocket eights, but they didn’t hold up against Yontz’s
ace-king. Kulp was knocked out in sixth place, good for $16,670.
The most recognizable face at the table belonged to
Frankfort, Kentucky’s Kurt Jewell.
Jewell has more than $1.4 million in career earnings on the felt, including a
third place finish in an HPT event earlier this year. The poker professional’s
experience playing under the bright lights wasn’t enough to propel him to
victory this time. Jewell would settle for a seventh-place finish and a $13,558
Much like the eventual winner, Pittsburgh’s Larry Pileggi found himself at the
final table on a $150 investment. Pileggi, a professor by trade, managed to
parlay that into an $11,114 score by finishing in eighth place.
Pittsburgh contractor Johnny
Orth was the first player of the day to be eliminated. The ninth-place
finish earned him $8,891.
The next HPT series is already underway at Belterra Casino
Resort in Southern Indiana. The tour will round out the year with a stop at
Ameristar St. Charles just outside of St. Louis next month.
“I think I may have to come and try to defend the title
next week,” said HPT’s newest champ. “You will definitely see me in December.”
For a full list of upcoming stops, along with schedules
and hotel offers, visit HPTpoker.com.