California-Club One Casino Recap
HPT Championship Title Stays in Fresno
Local Contractor Claims $85K Prize
Fresno, CA (October 8, 2013) – When the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour visited Fresno for the first time with a stop at Club One Casino, skilled players came from all over California and beyond. Local contractor James Jeff was fortunate to advance to the second day of the two-day event, although he was ranked near the bottom of the heap when play resumed. One hand at a time, he climbed his way up throughout the day. By the time the field was reduced to the final nine players who would play on national television, he was on top. The top is where he stayed. After the final hand was dealt, the championship title and the $85,184 prize remained with James Jeff on the home turf.
The heads-up battle featured a bluff that surprised the live audience when Jeff folded a winning hand that would have ended the match. Runner-up Triet Nguyen revealed his bluff to gasps from the crowd. Finally, on the 40th hand between the two, both players were dealt a pocket pair. It was Jeff's pocket aces that held against Nguyen's fives to bring an end to one of the longest heads-up battles in HPT history. Nguyen, a chef from San Francisco, takes home $52,530. He plans to use the money to invest in a restaurant of his own.
That’s just what 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event Champ Jerry “The Shadow” Yang did. "I have been working harder than I used to since winning the WSOP," said the restaurateur. Yang found himself at HPT’s Final Table Monday and tried to make magic happen again with pocket eights, the hand that made him a world champion. He got all-in with his eights against Nguyen who held queen-ten. The flop brought a ten to put Yang on the brink of elimination. His outs did not come on the turn or river, eliminating him in ninth place for $9,228.
For the first time in HPT’s nine-year history, four women earned seats at the televised Final Table. The last woman standing made her exit in fourth place when she moved all-in with king-queen. Wendy Freedman of Las Vegas was up against Jeff's ace-ten. Freedman, a pro player, was unable to improve and collected $25,200. "I've had a great time,” said Freedman. “I hope to play more in the future."
HPT picked up many new fans during their first “Gold Rush Series” in California. "I definitely see myself playing more HPT events," said Yotam Shmuelov of San Francisco. He returned to the TV table after finishing third last week at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. After flopping middle pair, Shmuelov moved all-in and was called by Jeff holding top pair. For the second week in a row, Shmuelov went out in third place and picked up another $35,493. His total prize money in a week on HPT exceeds six figures. "I'm definitely running good in the HPT right now,” he said.
Nobody fared better on HPT in California than Shawn Motameni of Woodland Hills. After six cashes at The Commerce Casino and one at Thunder Valley, Motameni claimed the title of Gold Rush Champion. For his feat, he receives a sponsorship package for HPT’s stop in Las Vegas next month.
Mimi Luu of San Jose had unfinished business after falling just short of the Final Table last week at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. Her 13th-place finish pushed her to improve this week. “I don't give up,” she said, “I tried very hard to get here, and I made it.”
In a rare double elimination, Luu was all in with the shortest stack against Nguyen and Mike Ball. Nguyen's pocket kings held all the way through the river to take out Ball and Luu. Ball, a local farmer from Fresno, takes home $19,521 for his fifth-place finish while pro player Luu takes home $15,972 for sixth place.
Several notable players did well at Club One Casino. Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler took over the lead in HPT’s Player of the Year race in 13th place. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer picked up his fifth HPT cash in 11th place. Noting the other four cashes were wins, he tweeted “It will have to do.” Pro Tony Dunst considered the trip a win although he didn’t finish in the money. “It’s my fourth time at Club One Casino and I always have a really good time when I come out,” he said.
Barbara Enright of Los Angeles came to the Final Table with an enviable poker resumé. The World Series of Poker Hall of Famer has three WSOP bracelets from four Final Table appearances. She holds the title as the only female to ever make a WSOP Main Event Final Table. She was unable to add an HPT title to her resume after she got all-in with pocket nines against Nguyen's pocket fours. A four came on the flop sending Enright out in seventh place for $13,310. She plans to use her winnings to feed the poor, which she lists as her husband and herself.
Lisa Jacobs took the day off from her job with a foster agency to play the Final Table. The Merced, California woman was eliminated in eighth place when she and Freedman got all-in pre-flop. It was Freedman's pocket kings that held against Jacob’s ace-king to eliminate her. While playing hooky, she earned $11,180.
"It's my first time playing in the HPT,” said Jacobs. “It's great. I'm happy you guys came to a small city to play this one."
Eight stops remain on HPT’s 2013 schedule. For details about upcoming events and to watch the action live every Monday, visit HPTpoker.com. “I’m on the HPT tour for a few more months,” tweeted HPT regular Stan Jablonski, who picked up another cash in Fresno in 29th place. “Even losing is fun.”