California-Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Recap
Mark Jones Picks Up $90k, HPT Title
Rancho Mirage, CA (March 11, 2014) Canyon Lake, California business owner Mark Jones had his work cut out for him at HPT’s latest stop at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. The recreational player faced a tough field including many top pros such as Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, and HPT’s Player of the Year Allen Kessler. Advancing to his first Final Table, Jones faced accomplished players with millions in career winnings to his $150k. “I am a recreational player,” he said before filming began at the Final Table for two episodes of Heartland Poker Tour, “so I have lots of challenges ahead of me.” He rose to the occasion to claim the title and $90,169.
“It’s certainly a life-changing experience,” the champ said of his win.
The heads-up battle will make for a great TV with theatrics on the river in many pivotal hands. Runner-up Lily Kiletto was looking for her first victory after racking up 21 cashes and a handful of Final Tables. The Florida woman had to settle for $55,607 in second place.
When the episodes produced at Agua Caliente Casino Resort air on national TV, viewers will recognize Dan Heimiller. He finished ninth at a TV table last month. “I did it again,” he said, “I don’t know how I made it.” The two deep finishes put him in the running for Player of the Year. “It’s a nice, prestigious title to have,” he said. Heimiller eliminated retiree Larry Kenzy of Palm Desert, California in seventh place before his own fourth-place exit. Heimiller earned $26,676 while Kenzy collected $14,090.
Fifth-place finisher Triet Nguyen also has an enviable track record on HPT. He has three cashes with two Final Table appearances. “I’ve been very lucky,” said the chef from San Francisco. The weekend in Palm Springs netted him $20,665. “Poker has treated me very well lately,” said Nguyen, “especially HPT.”
Fan favorite Ron Hauser from Rosalind, Alberta made the most of his $160 satellite buy in. The retired farmer clawed his way to the Final Table and started the day as the short stack. Five doubles later, he was one of three players remaining. “I didn’t expect this,” he said, “It’s such a surprise…it’s a wonderful experience.” Hauser finished third, turning $160 into $37,572.
“I’m really excited,” said Stanislav Barshak about his first HPT Final Table. The experienced pro from Illinois has over $5 million in career earnings. “I live for the really big moments,” he said. After doubling a couple of the players, Barshak went from one of the top stacks to one of the shorter stacks. He met his demise when he moved all-in with king-ten against the pocket queens of Mark Jones. Barshak was eliminated in ninth place for $9,796.
Chris Karambinis was one of three players starting the Final Table with over one-million in chips. Like Barshak, he suffered some early losses to become one of the short stacks. The Slanton, California man was eliminated when Chris DeMaci flopped a straight. For his eighth-place finish, Karambini adds $11,835 to a quarter of a million dollars in tournament winnings.
DeMaci, a pro from Shandon, California, traveled to Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa for his first HPT event. Although new to HPT, DeMaci is not new to poker with over $1.8 million in career earnings. “What I like about HPT is definitely the environment,” he said. “People are here to play the game and have fun.” His inaugural HPT experience earned him $16,907 in sixth place when his pocket nines ran into jacks.
“HPT events are not in typical locations,” DeMaci said, “so getting out to see places that I usually don’t get to see is great.” HPT heads next to Ameristar Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi followed by a stop in Florida at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room. Details about upcoming stops can be found at HPTpoker.com.