Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort-Mt. Pleasant, MI Recap
West Bests Record HPT Field
Mount Pleasant, Michigan (11/21/11) – An electrician from Lincoln Park, Michigan is the latest to benefit from another record-breaking turnout on Heartland Poker Tour, the nationally-syndicated poker show with modest roots. West navigated a huge field including recent HPT champions and some of poker’s most elite players, such as Annie Duke, Joe Sebok, and Kathy Liebert. World Series of Poker’s 2009 Main Event Champ Joe Cada played, as did his runner-up, Darvin Moon. In the end, a well-timed three on the river gave West a straight for the $234,410 win.
Breaking records on Heartland Poker Tour is beginning to sound like a broken record. The tour kicked off the season with a sellout field in Las Vegas and shattered attendance records in major markets. In Black Hawk, Colorado in October, HPT celebrated its first million-dollar prize pool. At the Championship Open at Soaring Eagle Casino Resort over the weekend, HPT attracted 545 players, a 32 percent increase over the same event last year.
Had runner-up Brandon Barnes won, the 18-year-old from Dearborn Heights, MI would have broken a record as the youngest HPT champion. “I played to the best of my ability,” he said, “It feels pretty amazing, to be honest.” The $117,205 he won will help him with his goal of avoiding a 9-to-5 job. In contrast, Dave Goddard will use some of the $70,323 he won in third place to pay for higher education, although not for him. The White Lake, Michigan man has three daughters currently in college.
Barnes was responsible for a double elimination on the bubble, sending just five players to the TV table for the second time in HPT’s seven-year history. Although they didn’t get to the nationally-televised stage, they didn’t exactly leave empty-handed. Short-stacked Sean Roy left with $23,988 in seventh place while Charles Geckle earned $39,068 for sixth.
Phil DeLaney of Dearborn Heights made his way to the TV table for the second time. Exactly two years ago, he won HPT’s Championship Open at Soaring Eagle for $127,058. A repeat wasn’t in the cards Sunday, sending DeLaney home in fifth place with $46,882. “I’m happy with the decisions I made and how I played,” he said, “Looking forward to the next one.”
All but two HPT champions from 2011 descended on Soaring Eagle for their last crack at the coveted Player of the Year title. Although Scott Hastings, Craig Casino and Jordan Jayne led the race going into the weekend, Nate Geise and Randy Pfeifer showed promise on day two. Either needed a tenth-place cash to lock it up. Geise went out in 34th place with Pfeifer right behind him in 33rd. With all other champs out of the way, Hastings became HPT’s seventh POY just one month after playing – and winning – his first HPT event.
When Hastings won at Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma last month, he revealed he hadn’t played a single hand of poker in several years. Before playing HPT, he had only played in two small tournaments previously. In one, he finished fourth, in the other, he won. After winning the championship in Oklahoma, he traveled to Iowa and scored an 11th-place finish at Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel. As POY, he will play many more hands of poker in 2012; Hastings will receive a buy in to every HPT event. The Season 8 schedule will be announced soon on HPTpoker.com.
Before HPT puts its record-breaking season to rest, they’ll head to Peppermill Casino in Reno for another nationally-televised Main Event. In the event dubbed “Season 7 Last Call,” players can get a head start on POY points for 2012. HPT expects another large turnout, as Chad Brown, Dennis Phillips, Jerry Yang and Jamie Gold have already announced plans to attend. More information can be found at HPTpoker.com.