Iowa-Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel Recap
Texan Steals Iowa Title and Heartland MVP Honors
Altoona, IA (October 29, 2013) Heartland Poker Tour named its first-ever Most Valuable Player early Tuesday in the heart of the Heartland at Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. Local player David Grandstaff had it locked up with two wins in the series and a sixth-place finish. As the Main Event came to a close, only one player had enough points to potentially oust him. Chris Louviere would have to finish in first place to surpass Grandstaff and that seemed unlikely. As HPT viewers have come to expect, anything can happen. Louviere advanced to the nationally-televised Final Table seventh in chips. Two hundred hands later, the insurance adjuster from Bangs, Texas was the last man standing, HPT’s latest champion, the first-ever Heartland MVP, and $54,225 richer. He invested just $360 in the tournament.
“I’ve been playing poker for the better part of my life,” said Louviere before taking his seat at the felt, “but this is my first time in front of cameras and I’m a nervous wreck.”
His stage fright wore off by the final hand when Rick Goulden of Des Moines moved all-in with ace-eight and was called by Louviere holding queen-ten. A queen came on the flop to give Louviere the lead in the hand. It held through the river, ending the match and making Goulden the runner-up for $32,535.
Three-handed play lasted quite some time as Terry Ring, Rick Goulden, and Chris Louviere all battled for the chance to play heads up. The odd man out was Terry Ring, a Vietnam vet from Durant, Iowa, who collected $21,690 in third place.
Like Louviere, Andy Van Blair admitted to some jitters before the action started. “This is all a new experience,” he said, “I’m a little bit nervous, but once the cards are in the air I think I’ll be alright”. He was alright until he moved all-in with ace-nine and ran into the pocket tens of Chris Louviere. The occupational therapist from Des Moines was eliminated in fourth place for $15,996.
Having started the Final Table as the short stack, Dash Saenz made the best of first HPT cash. He managed to get an early double to get him all the way to a fifth-place finish. His final hand came when he moved all-in with a flush draw after the flop but was unable to catch it to stay alive. The Des Moines, Iowa native collected $12,020.
Ron Shultz was eliminated when he ran into the pocket queens held by Andy Van Blair. The HVAC technician from Wood River, Nebraska took home $9,941 for his sixth-place finish and a checkmark on his to-do list. “I DVR and watch a lot of the (HPT) shows, learn a lot, and always wanted to play in one of these,” he said.
Nick Marsh from Fort Dodge, Iowa has also watched HPT for years and finally had his chance to be in front of the cameras. “This is the first HPT I’ve ever played in,” he said, “I have watched it and have wanted to be in that moment so bad”, said Marsh. He got his wish but was eliminated when he ran king-ten into the king-queen held by Chris Louviere. He took $8,134 home for his seventh-place finish.
Baltimore native Eddie Engel stopped at Prairie Meadows with friends to play his first HPT tournament. The professional gambler from Baltimore was eliminated in eighth place when he moved all-in with middle pair. He ran into Terry Ring’s top pair and earned $6,326.
The chip leader at the start of the day was looking for back-to-back victories. Matt Hennig, a local insurance adjuster, was the reigning Iowa champ on HPT after scoring the win at the tour’s last stop at Prairie Meadows earlier this year. With the biggest stack, the day looked promising. “I felt a little more pressure last time but now that I have done it, it’s just playing poker,” said Hennig. Dash Saenz’s pocket kings crushed his aspirations of a repeat championship. He collected $4,917 for his ninth-place finish.
HPT’s next event is already underway at Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Indiana. Tour information is available at HPTpoker.com.