Majestic Star Casinos-Gary, IN Recap

Poker Still Profitable in the Heartland


Gary, Indiana (April 18, 2011)- Just days after the U.S. Department of Justice changed the landscape of poker by shutting down top online sites, hundreds of players turned out to pursue a big payday at Heartland Poker Tour’s stop at Majestic Star Casinos in Gary, Indiana.  Nate Geise, a twenty-five year-old mechanical engineer from Fort Wayne, Indiana, ultimately took down the event for $96,516 with trip fours.

Geise, with two young daughters at home, says it’s tough to balance his career and family life with poker.  “You play the events you can play on weekends,” he says, which makes HPT a good fit for him.  Additionally, he adds, “It’s a good structure, the payouts are great.  You can’t get much better than that.”

Monday’s final table meant more cash for Dash.  A professional poker player from Lansing, Michigan, Dash Dudley won an HPT event in Michigan in 2009.  With $48,258 for second place, Dudley has amassed over $360,000 in career winnings.  “Poker is just starting to pay off after eight or nine years of playing professionally,” he says.  Since taking down an HPT televised event, the 25-year-old has been traveling to get as much poker experience as possible, spending the summer in Las Vegas and the winter in Los Angeles.  Playing in the Heartland over the weekend gave his parents and friends an opportunity to watch him in action from the rail.  “Hopefully the support carries me through,” said Dudley just before taping.  After treating his supporters to dinner, Dudley says it’s back to work tomorrow.


Ashor Ochana can relate.  The 30-year-old from Elgin, Illinois lists “gambler” as his occupation.   Business is good for Ochana, adding another $19,303 to over a half million dollars in career winnings.  Short-stacked at the final table, Ochana said he planned to wait for a decent hand to make his move and double up.  He hoped ace-eight was the hand when ace-queen-five came on the board.  Unfortunately for Ochana, Geise had ace-queen and he was unable to hit his needed running cards.  His first HPT final table got him to fifth place.


Nicknamed “Doc” at the age of ten for the way he operated on a football field, Imari Love says the name works today for how he operates at the poker table.  The 36-year-old stock analyst from Chicago got his chips in good with ace-ten against Geise’s ace-five, but he flat-lined with a five on the turn for $22,520 in fourth place.  After a deep run at 2010’s World Series of Poker where he picked up $49K, Love’s career winnings total nearly $125K. 

HPT producers promised April would be a million dollar month with three high-profile events back-to-back.  “Seeing record-breaking attendance in markets like Nevada and Colorado, we’re confident the momentum is building for HPT,” says HPT President and Co-Founder Todd Anderson.  HPT surpassed its goal, awarding $1,323,021 this month.  No time to celebrate, HPT has two major events planned next month in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and Reno, Nevada.


James Erdman of Deerfield, Illinois wanted a piece of the payday for himself, but also had another objective in mind when he registered for the main event.  “One of my goals here was to get on TV,” said the 53-year-old owner of a commercial real estate company.  Making it to third place for $28,955, “he never stopped smiling,” said HPT’s On Air Floor Director Jaymz Larson.


Nationally-syndicated throughout the US in addition to widespread distribution throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, HPT airs 52 weeks each year.  Since 2005, HPT has built a loyal following of players and viewers and is now the largest independent producer of poker content on TV.


Jerry Gumila’s sister Judy is an HPT super fan.  She records every episode and plays as many HPT events as she can.  The two of them put their money together for one main event buy-in at Majestic Star and flipped a coin to see who’d play. 

Gumila, 42, a small business owner, represented the family well all the way to the TV table.  All in with ace-queen on a two-queen-four board, Gumila was out in sixth place when a three on the turn and an ace on the river gave Dudley a straight for his fives.  Gumila takes half of $16,086 back home to Steamwood, Illinois.  The other half goes to his sister.


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