Michigan-Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Recap
HPT Wraps Record Season in Michigan
Bell Wins $159K, Kessler named POY
Mt. Pleasant, MI (November 25, 2013) After an unprecedented tour schedule and record turnouts in 2013, Heartland Poker Tour closed out their ninth season on Monday at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort with a $678,120 Main Event prize pool. It was a big end to a big season. HPT kicked off the year aboard a Card Player Cruise in the Caribbean and zigzagged across the country televising more tournaments in the U.S. than any other tour. Nineteen champions had their moment of glory on national TV in Season IX including the latest champ, 57-year-old Ron Bell of Toledo, Ohio. For the win, Bell collected $159,353.
Bell dismissed Andrew Beardsley of Swartz Creek, Michigan in nine hands heads up. The final hand saw both players get all of their chips into the middle pre-flop. A king came on the flop for Bell’s ace-king, while Beardsley held jack-ten. For his first big tournament, Beardsley collected $98,327. Considering he earned his Main Event entry through a $360 qualifier, it likely won’t be his last.
Ardesjor “Al” Azadnia of Okemos, Michigan also saw a lucrative ROI. He invested just $180 in a qualifier and got all the way to fifth place in the Main Event to win $33,228.
That’s no small feat according to Tonya Provost-Hawkins, the eighth-place finisher from White Lake, Michigan “It was really hard to get here. I don’t think people have any idea how long it takes to get here.” Going into the table as the short stack, she persevered until her ten-nine was unable to improve against the jack-nine of Andrew Beardsley. Collecting $18,309, she said “I feel pretty amazing.”
In the most dramatic hand of the Final Table, two players were at risk against Bell’s pocket queens. Chuck Tonne, who had a dominant lead throughout the Final Table, held ace-king and Ben Grise of Indianapolis held ace-four. When the board played out to Bell’s favor, Grise was sent home with $44,756 in fourth place while Tonne doubled up Bell. Tonne of Chesterfield, Michigan attempted to get his chips back from Bell later with a bluff on the river. Bell rivered a full house and Tonne collected $64,421 in third place.
Bell came out on top of one of HPT’s most accomplished fields. Champions from throughout the season made the trip to Michigan, as did recognizable pros like Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, and Gavin Smith. Kessler was a constant presence on the tour in 2013 in his quest for Player of the Year honors. The year-end championship at Soaring Eagle signified the end of the POY race. Although he didn’t finish in the money in Michigan, he did lock up the honor with six impressive cashes in Season IX including four Final Tables. He became the first HPT POY who hasn’t won a championship, which gives him a new goal for Season X. As POY, he has a leg up with six complimentary Main Event buy ins and hotel accommodations in 2014.
The Season X points race is already underway with a bonus event at Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana. The first champion of the milestone season will be named on December 9th. Some 2014 tour dates have already been posted at HPTpoker.com.
Although the Championship Open attracted players from throughout the U.S, Michigan players seemed to have the home field advantage. Seven of the final nine at the nationally-televised Final Table reside in the state. Sixth- place finisher John Drikakis returned to Bama Creek with $25,769. Dapreesch Scates of Sterling Heights collected $14,919 in ninth place.
William Rogers of Midland was eliminated when he moved all-in with king-queen against Tonne’s jack-ten. A jack on the flop put Rogers in seventh place for $22,310. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the challenge of winning it,” he said.