California-The Commerce Hotel & Casino Recap
Texan Claims HPT’s Commerce Title
Kris Tong Takes home $165K to the Lone Star State
(September 24, 2013)- Hundreds of
players from Southern California tried out Heartland
Poker Tour for the first time this month when the nationally-televised tour
made its first stop at The Commerce Hotel & Casino. In the
end, the title, the glory, and the cash left the state with 28-year-old Kris
Tong of Richardson, Texas.
The heads up battle between Tong and Shawn
Motameni was a close affair, even to the last hand. Motameni of Woodland Hills, California held
pocket aces to Tong’s tens. A ten on the flop determined the champion. Tong collected $165,090 and the title while
Motameni earned $117,800 and a massive point lead in HPT’s Gold Rush Series.
"The belt, the title, the cash…especially
the money…for me means a lot since I just quit my job,” Tong said.
addition to the cash, the champ scored the coveted custom-made championship
belt. The wrestling-style belt is a
first-of-its-kind for poker in the U.S. Louis
Werman from Agoura Hills, California was one of many players determined to take
home the impressive belt. "If I win
the tournament today, the money will be nice, but honestly I am just playing
for the belt," he said.
event at The Commerce Hotel & Casino was a strong introduction to the West
Coast for HPT. With the exception of
HPT’s Colorado tournaments, the event marks HPT’s largest prize pool to date. In
the midst of a record year, HPT is looking to top the field of 577 entrants at
the tour’s next stop this weekend at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in the
HPT will wrap up the California leg of
the tour, known as the "Gold Rush Series", with a
nationally-televised Main Event at Club One Casino in Fresno the following
week. The player with the most points at the end of the series will be named the Gold Rush Champion and
receive a sponsorship package to HPT's upcoming event in Las Vegas. Motameni leads the points race, while fourth-place finisher Huy Quach of
Los Angeles rounds out the top ten.
“I'm very excited," Motameni
said, "I have been looking forward to an event
like this. What I like about
HPT, it seems like it's more geared towards the everyday person."
Although HPT is well-known for serving
the average poker enthusiast, several notable players peppered the field. Gavin
Griffin, David Levi, Todd Terry, and Stan Jablonski all finished in the money. Notorious pro Allen
"Chainsaw" Kessler surprised himself when he made the televised Final
Table after being down to three big blinds late on Day 2. Short stacked at the Final
Table, he moved all-in from under the gun with ace-queen. Kris Tong also moved all-in with a pair of
aces. When the board ran out A, 6, 5, Q,
6, Kessler became the ninth-place finisher earning $16,820. The Final Table was Kessler’s third of Season
IX on HPT. He moved up one place in HPT’s Player of the Year race, from third
to second. "People say I'm a nit, but nobody can argue with my
results,” said Kessler.
Tong brought the aces out again for the next
elimination. Werman, with his sights set
on the championship belt, moved all-in after a raise from Tong. Like Kessler, Werman held ace-queen and the
hand didn’t work out any better for him.
The belt slipped away but he picked up $22,420 in eighth place. Tong wasn’t done with the aces yet. Peter Hengsakul became the seventh place
finisher after shoving into Tong’s aces, taking home $28,110.
In the next knock out, ace-queen was again the
deadly hand, this time for Commerce grinder Quan Tran of Monterey Park,
California. All-in against Mel Weiner’s
pocket kings, Tran’s fate looked promising when the flop produced an ace and a
queen. However, the king of clubs was an
unwelcome sight for Tran, who picked up $33,720 in sixth place.
It was Motameni’s turn with the aces next. He limped from under the gun while Tong and Quach limped from the button.
Joshua Pollock of Las Vegas moved all-in, Motameni called, and everyone else
folded. Motameni’s aces
eliminated Joshua Pollock of Las Vegas in
fifth place for $56,060
Mel Wiener’s strategy was “to get a lot of aces.”
The real estate manager from Calabasas, California has been dealt a few aces in
his poker career. He has over $1.2
million in career winnings and a 1996 WSOP bracelet. He started the Final Table wearing the bracelet for the first time but
took it off midway when he felt it wasn't bringing him any luck. Either
strategy or luck got him to third place for $75,800.
After the Gold Rush Series, HPT will crisscross
the U.S. for ten more stops in 2013 from Daytona Beach, Florida to Gary,
Indiana. The latest champion makes a
good case for following the tour. Last
year, he just missed the Final Table at River City Casino in St Louis,
finishing in 11th place. "It was a lot of fun and I gained a
lot of experience," Tong said of his previous HPT cash. Information about upcoming stops can be found