Colorado - Golden Gates Casino Recap

Cattle Rancher Wins $245k on HPT

Runner-up Carla Sabini Becomes HPT’s Highest-Earning Woman

Black Hawk, CO – (September 17, 2012) Five is rancher Mike Harris’s new favorite number. In his fifth Heartland Poker Tour event, a pair of fives on the board for the five in his hand made him the champion of the nationally-televised Mile High Poker Open at Golden Gates Casino and Poker Parlour.  Of all the HPT events the Wyoming man has played, this was the one to win.  It was the second-largest field in HPT’s eight-year history, earning him a $245,073 payday.

The win didn’t come easy.  Accountant Carla Sabini held the chip lead for much of her time at the Final Table.  “Carla’s one hell of a player,” said Harris, tipping his cowboy hat.  The $139,839 Sabini won as runner-up was one of the largest paydays for a woman in HPT’s eight-year history.

“HPT puts on a top-notch tourney, the best in the world,” said Harris, citing “the people and the prize pools” as the draws for him. Fourth-place finisher Dan Jensen of Arvada, Colorado agreed, “HPT is a first-class operation, very well organized and well ran.” For his $360 investment, Jensen earned $89,825.

No stranger to Golden Gates, eleven previous HPT stops at the casino were hugely popular.  The latest event marks the third straight million-dollar prize pool for HPT in Colorado.  The Main Event attracted 739 players from at least thirty states for a total prize pool of 1,108,995. 

Both amateur players and top pros made the trip to scenic Black Hawk, including world champion Greg “FossilMan” Raymer.  Fresh off his HPT victory in Albuquerque, Raymer hoped to duplicate his success in Colorado.  HPT’s re-entry format allowed Raymer to buy in multiple times after busting from the Main Event.  With steadfast determination he tweeted, “5th bullet down…but I’ve got a 6-shooter.”  He ultimately made seven attempts, but missed his target.  Raymer will try again when HPT visits River City Casino in St. Louis at the end of the month.

Accomplished pros Bryan “Devo” Devonshire and David Baker fared better.  Devo cashed in 32nd place for $5,323.  The television audience will see the bad beat that took Baker out in sixth place when the episodes filmed at Golden Gates air nationwide in November.  Baker, of Katy, Texas, adds $47,130 to over $3 million in career winnings. With a World Series of Poker bracelet to his credit, Baker was the most-accomplished player at the TV table. “They are all wonderful players,” Baker said of his competition, “It’s great to come to a city like Black Hawk where the players truly love poker.”

In contrast to Baker’s poker resume, Jeff Wertepny had no previous career winnings.  He recently moved to Longmont, Colorado seeking opportunity after losing his job as a brick layer two and half years ago.  Finding work as a laborer, he invested just $240 in the tournament, which became $58,220 with his fifth-place finish.

Before the weekend event at Golden Gates, Rich Perego was already gambling.   He left his high-paying career as a computer architect in Silicon Valley to pursue an opportunity in the finance industry.  The downtime between jobs allowed the Thornton, Colorado man to play HPT.  The gamble of his life already paid off; he won $73,302 in fourth place.

“We see stories like Jeff’s and Rich’s at every stop,” said HPT Executive Producer Fred Bevill, “Awarding life-changing money on national TV is what we do.” 


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