Indiana - Majestic Star Casinos Recap

Aspiring Pro Scores $133k Windfall on HPT


Gary, Indiana (May 21, 2012) - When his kids are grown, 39-year-old Daniel Acevedo has aspirations of leaving his career as a product developer to play poker professionally.  With one son in college and another in high school, it’s time for the small stakes player to get serious.  Well on his way, he invested $300 in a WSOP Circuit event last year and Final Tabled for $30k.  Over the weekend in Gary, Indiana, he invested just $360 in the Heartland Poker Tour event at Majestic Star Casinos and took down the tournament for the $133,081 win. 


Although Acevedo’s dream of turning pro is now within reach, the bulk of the prize money will be invested in his sons’ futures instead.  The Belvidere, Illinois man will use most for college tuition, but may also take a shot at World Series of Poker glory this summer.


Since 2005, HPT has carved a niche in the poker space by serving recreational players and those hoping to step onto a bigger stage.  “We are proud to offer the rare opportunity for unknown players to get national recognition,” said HPT Co-Founder Todd Anderson.  Now filming Season VIII of the widely distributed poker show, 104 champions have experienced the thrill of victory on national TV.


Runner-up Jimmy Chestnut of Dewitt, Michigan decided to skip college entirely to go pro in June of 2010.  When poker’s “Black Friday” hit less than a year later, he moved from Las Vegas to Canada for six months to continue playing online.  Back in the Heartland and relatively new to live tournaments, he found himself at his first live Final Table Monday.  The 24-year-old played well despite entering the Final Table as one of the short stacks.  In the deciding final hand, Chestnut slow-played trip queens while Acevedo caught an ace on the river for a Broadway straight.  It was a $75,281 payday for Chestnut.


Five of the six players at the TV table were essentially short-stacked when play began.  HPT Final Table veteran Jerry Gumila had the commanding lead with half the chips in play.  Confident his experience as last year’s sixth-place finisher would benefit him, the 43-year-old business owner from Streamwood, Illinois was prepared to dominate Monday.  His confidence was tested on the second hand when he doubled up David Kenniston, 44, of Muskegon, Michigan.  Gumila flopped top pair to Kenniston’s flopped straight. 


Gulima’s stack continued to free fall during the first hour of play as Acevedo built his stack through luck and aggression.  During the first elimination of the night, Acevedo got aggressive with his ten-three offsuit and ran into the ace-king of 26-year-old Andre Butler of East Chicago, Indiana.  Unfortunately for Butler, the board ran out with two threes, sending him to the rail in sixth place for $25,542.


Just a few hands later, Gulima made what he thought was an easy all-in call with ace-queen against hyper-aggressive Acevedo, only to discover he was up against ace-king.  When a king came on the flop, Gulima earned a devastating fifth-place finish for $31,457.


With Gumila’s chips now mostly in the hands of Kenniston and Acevedo, Kenniston shoved his stack with nine-three on a two-two-nine board against Acevedo’s pocket tens.  The result was a 7-to-one chip lead over the remaining players for Acevedo and fourth place for Kenniston, who turned his $360 qualifier entry into $41,620.


While all the heavy action was happening, Dawn Sanders of Naperville, Indiana did a great job of avoiding trouble and staying in the game.  “I am the rookie at this and all of my opponents are very, very good,” said the 47-year-old, “I’ve never played with people like this before.”  Her tight strategy paid off huge.  Investing just $180 in the tournament, she earned her way into the Main Event but barely survived to Day Two.  At one point, she was down to just 17k chips.  She managed to make the Final Table, entering as the short stack.  As the big stacks battled it out, she climbed up the money ladder.  Ultimately, Sanders moved all in with pocket fours and lost out to the ace-queen of Jimmy Chestnut.  Like champion Acevedo, Sanders will use some of the $48,395 she earned in third place for the World Series of Poker this summer. 


HPT breaks for the month of June for the Series, then hits the road again in July for a nationally-televised event at Route 66 Casino & Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico.