Missouri-River City Casino Recap

HPT Champ Turns $375 into $131K

River City Casino Draws Record Field for Nationally-Televised Event

St Louis, MO (April 30, 2013) Pro players and poker enthusiasts turned out in record number for Heartland Poker Tour’s latest stop at River City Casino in St Louis.  Over 5100 seats were sold in the series with all eyes on the top prize, the nationally-televised championship.  Like 380 other players, 62-year-old Roger Campbell wanted a piece of the $548,640 Main Event prize pool.  Winning his seat from a qualifying event, his shot at fame and fortune cost him just $375.  It was money well spent.  The Centralia, Illinois man went on to an envious run in the two-day finale, advancing to the Final Table as the chip leader and emerging as the champion.  In just two days, his $375 investment grew to $131,681.

 

Johnna Stewart of Creal Springs, Illinois also saw an incredible ROI, collecting $18,544 off a $40 investment.  Ultimately, queens betrayed the last woman standing when she ran her pair into kings, eliminating her in 7th place. 

 

“We see these incredible Cinderella stories at every stop,” said HPT’s Executive Producer Fred Bevill.  “Life-changing money is accessible on HPT.”

 

The heads-up match lasted a bit longer than expected considering Campbell had a 10-to-1 chip lead when it began. Runner-up Vermin Becirbegovic put up a good fight but eventually hit a dead end with king-queen against ace-four.  It was a $79,882 payday for Becirbegovic who works as a bartender in St Louis. 

 

The hometown players fared well.  In addition to Becirbegovic, four other locals hoped the home field advantage would work in their favor.  John Dahlberg, born and raised in St Louis, picked up $15,362 in eighth place while Phillip Youngclaus collected $21,946 for his sixth-place finish.  Both were eliminated by Becirbegovic, but it was Campbell who put an end to Noah Weinberger’s first HPT tournament, eliminating him in fifth place for $27,981.  Not far from home, Jeff Landherr of O’Fallon, Illinois picked up $13,167 for his 20-minute commute to River City. 

 

Local grinders who can’t wait for HPT’s return to St Louis in November have several opportunities to play HPT tournaments around the country.  In May, HPT will bring the cash and the cameras to Soaring Eagle Casino Resort in Michigan and Route 66 Casino Hotel in New Mexico. 

 

HPT first met Jordan Jayne at Soaring Eagle a month after poker’s Black Friday.  He was a 20-year-old internet pro with an uncertain future.  After losing his livelihood in the government shutdown of online poker, Jayne was considering a career change and contemplating college.  Plans changed when he played his first-ever live tournament at Soaring Eagle.  He bested 386 players and locked up an HPT championship worth $165k.  Now two years later, he found himself back at HPT’s televised Final Table in St Louis hoping to join the short list of players with multiple HPT titles.  With just two players left in his path, Jordan made a move with an open-ended straight draw that didn’t pan out against Campbell's pocket aces.  Eliminated in third place for $53,492, Jayne joins the long list of champions who got oh-so-close again.

 

Stan Jablonski knows all too well about getting oh-so-close.  The Arizona business owner has 70 career cashes, including most recently a tenth-place finish in the Venetian’s Deep Stack Main Event just days ago.  On Monday, he made his third HPT televised Final Table in seven months.  If “Stan Jablonski” isn’t ringing any bells, it may be because championship titles are elusive to him.  Despite his consistent tournament success, Jablonski hasn’t been the last man standing since a couple of wins in 2006.  The long-overdue title will have to wait.  After grinding a short stack on Day 2 to the televised Final Table, a weaker ace against Jayne ended Jablonski’s run in fourth place for $37,308. 

 

Jablonski will have at least 13 more chances at an HPT title in 2013.  Many tour stops are already posted at HPTpoker.com.     

 

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