Gary, IN (August 20, 2013) – Bob Chow was outnumbered at Monday’s Heartland Poker Tour Final Table at Majestic Star Casino Hotel in Gary, Indiana. Of the nine players who ascended to the top of the 520-player field, the 53-year-old from Schaumberg, Illinois was the only pro player. One by one, Chow eliminated the physician, the CIO, and the salesman. He eliminated an environmental contractor and a carpet salesman before just one more opponent remained. Chicagoan Vu Huang fought for 29 hands heads up before Chow caught a higher straight flush draw on the river to take down the biggest field HPT has ever seen at Majestic Star. The pro’s paycheck totaled $171,534.
Huang lists his occupation as “unemployed.” He invested just $190 in the tournament and walked away with $104,859.
After twelve previous visits to the Gary, Indiana riverboat, HPT saw the annual event balloon by a whopping 121 percent year over year, from 1692 entrants in the series to 3735. The tour stop culminated with a televised Main Event that was 38 percent bigger than last year. Many players cited HPT’s popular new tournament structure as the driving force behind participation.
“The new structure is a tremendous structure for this type of tournament, plenty of play," said the champ.
Darryl Ronconi, a chief information officer from Naperville, Illinois agreed, “The structure is great. I canceled my trips to Florida and Foxwoods to play this event because of the structure." Ronconi’s run ended in fourth place when he moved all in pre-flop with pocket tens. A king on the flop for Bob Chow’s ace-king eliminated Ronconi, who collected $48,328.
As fields grow to unprecedented new heights, so does the tour itself. HPT will execute events back-to-back every week between Labor Day and Thanksgiving this year. The 11-event stretch is an HPT record. Remaining stops in 2013 include events in California and Florida and seven states in between.
The last time Bruce Knee made an HPT Final Table, it was 2007 and third place earned him just under $15k. A lot has changed on HPT. The carpet salesman from Vernon, Illinois collected $69,509 in third place Monday.
Environmental contractor Joe Wilson of Cary, Illinois played his first HPT over the weekend. “I'm really excited about playing, it's a good tournament.” He became the fifth-place finisher when he got all-in with king-nine against Bob Chow’s ace-nine, collecting $36,171.
The first player to get eliminated from the Final Table was ex-Special Forces member Murat Muftari of Royal Oak, Michigan. After seeing a king-high flop, he moved all-in over the top of the initial bet of Bruce Knee. Knee called and showed ace-king, while Muftari held king-queen. The turn and river did not deliver any help to Muftari who collected $14,916 in ninth place.
Thomas Schrepfer was eliminated in the next hand when he moved all-in with a straight draw. Bob Chow called holding top pair with a top kicker on the turn. Schrepfer, a physician from Urbana, Illinois, collected $18,645 for his eighth-place effort.
It only took two more hands to get the Final Table down to six players after the elimination of Schrepfer. Mike Deis, a salesman from Chicago, became the seventh-place finisher when his pocket twos were unable to improve against Bob Chow's pocket queens. Deis collects $22,744 for seventh place.
After the three rapid eliminations, play slowed with a few double ups before the next elimination occurred. David Gutfreund, a game manager from Chicago, moved all-in with pocket queens only to be called by Vu Huang who held ace-king. The classic race between the two players ended with Huang catching an ace on the turn to win the hand. Gutfreund’s sixth- place elimination was worth $27,968. "It's a different atmosphere to play an HPT event,” said Gutfreund, “so friendly and just a fun time."
Tour information is available at HPTpoker.com.