Colorado - Golden Gates Casino Recap

HPT Sets New Record in Colorado

Steen Ronlov Bests Field of 820 Players at Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour


Black Hawk, CO – (April 23, 2012) After making headlines for delivering a million-dollar prize pool last October, the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour broke its own record this week at Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, Colorado.  The Main Event in the scenic gaming community attracted 820 players, the largest field in HPT history and in the state of Colorado.  The $1.23 million-dollar prize pool exceeded all expectations for the popular biannual event at Golden Gates.  Ultimately, 67-year-old retiree Steen Ronlov of Westminster, Colorado took down the championship for $270,905 after investing just $360 in the tournament. 


Going into the Final Table, Ronlov said of his strategy, “I’m going to have fun, I’m going to do what I do, I’m going to be me.”  He added, “You have to learn to enjoy it, otherwise it’s a miserable game.”


No stranger to Golden Gates, HPT’s ten previous stops at the casino were hugely popular.  A new, highly-praised tournament structure with longer levels and re-entry availability likely helped to build the mile-high prize pool to unprecedented heights.  A handful of notable players made the trip to Black Hawk, including Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith, Darvin Moon, and Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, who were all eliminated on Day One. 


“The entire team at Golden Gates looks forward to our HPT events,” said Gates General Manager Shannon Keel, “Not only is it an exciting time for our property and our players, but the HPT crew has become like family. Their grassroots background shows in everything they do.”


The Main Event looked like a tournament of champions with several past HPT champs hoping to reclaim their titles, including Kyle Simpson, Dash Dudley, Jeremy Dresch, Craig Casino, Andreas Ramadanis, William Givens and Matt Mason.  It was three-time champ Jeremy Dresch of Minnesota who gained the most traction, cashing in 41st place for $4,680.  Dresch will make his next attempt at a 4th HPT title next weekend at Canterbury Park Card Casino in Shakopee, MN.


Four of the Final Table players invested just $360 in the tournament, including runner-up Michael McCloud of Telluride, Colorado who earned $151,721.  “This is certainly a lot better than my home game,” said sixth-place finisher Frank Pfeifer.  The retired biologist turned $360 into $49,260.  “As everyone knows, there’s some luck involved in poker.  I got lucky a few times,” Pfeifer said of getting through the massive field.


Golden Gates regular Wes Myers of Johnstown, Colorado also turned $360 into a big payday, surviving to third place for $98,274.  Undeniably a great return on investment, the livestock trader estimated the prize money would buy “about 100 head in today’s market.”

The young gun at the table, 26-year-old Mike Bonetto, recently scored $63k when he finished second in another tournament.  As HPT’s fifth-place finisher Monday, he doubled his money, winning another $63,792.  “I’ve had a real good time,” he said, “I like the new structure.  The people have been great. I think I played well.”


In contrast, 40-year-old Julian “Logan Knight” Melancon was highly critical of his play after being eliminated in fourth place.  “Everything I did was wrong,” said the 40-year-old from New Mexico.  Melancon may take another shot when HPT visits his home state for the first time in July.  Despite his disappointment, an $80,048 boost to his bankroll means an overall positive experience.  “HPT is my favorite major tour,” he said.


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