Nevada - Stratosphere Hotel & Casino Recap

Bunch Captures HPT Title and $150k in Vegas

Local man beats out large field at Stratosphere

Las Vegas, NV (November 17, 2014) – John Bunch outlasted a stacked field to win the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event at Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, & Tower. For the victory, the technical advisor from Las Vegas earned the covetedHPT Title and $150,081.

After an intense heads up battle that saw both players stacks swing from high to low and back again, the final hand saw Bunch flop a straight against Joey Brown’s bottom pair with a straight draw. The two players got all of the chips in the middle and Bunch’s straight held up, giving him the biggest cash of his career.

“It was definitely a tough table. I knew coming in that I just had to play my game. I stuck in there, got lucky, and here I am,” said the new champion.

For Brown, the runner-up result was bittersweet. His only other previous Final Table appearance with HPT also ended with a second-place finish. The $92,605 that the Springfield, Missouri man is taking home will help ease the pain.

Las Vegas native Ryan LaPlante played well in his first HPT event. The poker pro’s bid for a title came up short as Brown knocked him out in third place. LaPlante intends to use the $60,672 towards the purchase of a new home.

“It was definitely a cool and unique experience and I can’t wait to come back,” LaPlante said of his first time playing on HPT.

Local poker pro Gary Bolden is no stranger to the Las Vegas poker scene. He has over 70 career cashes in Sin City. He got tangled up in a couple of big hands with LaPlante at the Final Table and, in the end, it was LaPlante who eliminated him in fourth place. Bolden can add the $42,151 score to his decorated resume.

One player at the Final Table on Monday wasn’t planning to enter the HPT Main Event at Stratosphere. Paul McCaffrey, a property manager from San Ramon, California, was encouraged by his wife and mother-in-law to play the tournament last minute. It worked out well for McCaffrey who will take home$31,294 for fifth place.

Ryan Tosoc plans to add to his shoe collection with his winnings.The $24,269 he collected for sixth place will afford him several pairs. The cash game specialist hails from Chicago, Illinois but is spending the winter in Las Vegas.

Kirkwood, Missouri’s Peter Nigh has played several HPT events in the past and this likely won’t be his last. The poker pro cited the player-friendly structure as his reason for returning to the tour. Nigh saw his day come to a close when Bolden knocked him out in seventh place for $21,012.

It was no surprise to see many notables in the field when HPT visited poker's hometown. Former world champions Carlos Mortensen and Ryan Riess were just a couple of the players spotted at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower.

Perhaps the most recognizable face at the Final Table on Monday was Dan Sindelar, who finished 7th in the WSOP Main Event last week. Unfortunately, Sindelar’s stay under the lights on Monday was a short one as he was sent to the rail in eighth place. The Las Vegas native earned $17,244 at his second TV table in under a week.

Short stack Ben Palmer was the first player to fall by the wayside. He tried to make a move early on with jack-nine only to run into LaPlante’s pocket aces. The Deadwood, South Dakota poker player took home$14,050 for ninth place.

From here, the tour heads to Michigan for the final stop of its Season X schedule. Events in Iowa and East Chicago will close out the year for HPT. For information on those stops and early events in 2015, visit


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