Golden Gates Casino-Black Hawk, CO Recap

Poker Gets Colorado Man to the Altar

Black Hawk, CO – Wedding bells are finally ringing for Matt Mason and Jackie Wright of Littleton, Colorado.  The couple put their plans to marry on hold last year, struggling to make ends meet after Wright lost her job.  For a $360 investment, Mason took a shot at a windfall playing the Heartland Poker Tour at Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, Colorado over the weekend.  Mason knew it was time to book the caterer when a straight on the river made him the latest champion on the nationally-televised poker show.   With first place paying $188,955, the honeymoon is already off to a good start.

“That’s the appeal of the Heartland Poker Tour,” says HPT Executive Producer Greg Lang.  “A shot at unreal money is attainable for minimum risk.”  John “Bubba” Holdren may never see an ROI as lucrative as he did Sunday.  The entrepreneur and father-of-two from Greeley, Colorado turned $180 into $94,478 in second place.  

Another family man from Colorado, Craig Dubberstein, battled his way through the field of 419 players to become one of the final six playing on the televised set.  Holding a shiny toy coin from his eight-year-old daughter for luck, he got tangled up with Mason and went all in with bottom pair.  The champ called with pocket eights against fours, sending Dubberstein out in third place.  The toy money will reemerge at another poker table soon, while the very real $56,687 will be put away for his daughter and two-year-old twins.

“The HPT is the most economical tour out there, “said Ed Wilson of Aurora, Colorado.  The tournament at Golden Gates was déjà vu for Wilson.  One year ago, the 39-year-old production mechanic took fourth place at an HPT stop at Gates.  Wilson’s starting chip count was nearly identical the previous year, as was the prize money up for grabs.  In April 2009, 426 players turned out, contributing to a record-sized prize pool.  Making a move Sunday with queen-nine, Wilson ran into Holdren’s ace-queen.   An ace on the flop meant fourth place again for Wilson, adding $44,090 to last year’s $44,646.  “I won’t complain if I take fourth place every time I play this tournament,” he said.

Wilson will have another shot in September when the HPT returns to Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour.  “We are preparing for a record-breaking field later this year,” says Gates General Manager Jef Bauer.  “Through our partnership with HPT, we’ve awarded four million dollars in Colorado.”  Five of the six players at the final table Sunday are Colorado residents.

“Our players know they can expect a massive prize pool in Black Hawk,” says HPT President Todd Anderson.  “Golden Gates is now the stop they don’t miss.”

Bernard Morrow of Grand Island, Nebraska took vacation time from his job to drive up to Black Hawk for his shot at life-changing money.  “Even getting seventh-place would be great”, he said before getting to the televised final table, finishing sixth for $31,493.     

Richard Hanley, a CEO in the health care industry, shares Morrow’s enthusiasm.  “Playing for this kind of money on TV is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in my life,” he said.  The Lafayette, Colorado, grandfather flew a jet in the Navy and excelled at college basketball, yet got the thrill of his life picking up $37,791 in fifth place.  “That’s one exciting game,” Hanley said.

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