Iowa-Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel Recap

Alexander Earns 2nd HPT Title in Iowa

Minnesotan wins marathon at Prairie Meadows

Altoona, IA (December 8, 2014) – Two friends found themselves heads up for the cash and a Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) Title at a marathon Final Table from Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel. In the end, it was Matthew Alexander who bested his pal Kou Vang for the $69,043 payday.

The Final Table that began on Monday afternoon, ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning when Vang pushed all in with ace-queen and was called by Alexander’s pocket sevens. The flop, turn, nor river produced an ace or a queen and Alexander was crowned an HPT champion for the second time in his career. Vang, of St. Paul, Minnesota would take home $42,691 for second place.

Poker can be a cruel game at times. Travis Remmert found that out firsthand when he went from chip leader to out of the tournament in just a few hands. The computer consultant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa got his chips in with the best of it twice in three hands. Both times he came out on the losing end. He walked away with $26,083 for third place.

The friendly environment is what keeps Remmert coming back to play on HPT. “It was so much fun,” he said. “I’m playing poker for big money… But, my stomach hurts because I’ve been laughing so much,” he said.

Four-handed play lasted nearly four hours at the Prairie Meadows Final Table. With each pay jump increasing by the thousands, the final four were on their A game. Alas, someone had to go out. Michael Hahn of Indianapolis, Indiana became the unlucky victim when his ace-queen failed to hold up against Vang’s king-queen. Hahn, at his second career HPT Final Table, says he plans to apply part of the $19,179 that he won for fourth place towards purchasing a new canoe.

Quang “Steve” Pham of Omaha, Nebraska made a bold move in a big pot against Vang. The real estate investor attempted to make a hero call with third pair after missing the flush, but his read was wrong. Vang scooped the pot and Pham was sent to the rail in fifth place, $14,320 richer.

Richard Fitzgerald enjoyed the HPT structure, which was designed by Daniel Negreanu. “One of the best structures I’ve ever seen,” Fitzgerald said. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota man had the second smallest stack when play began. He made the best of it, playing his way to sixth place for $11,763.

Kirksville, Missouri’s Roger Bennett credits his success to advice he’s received from past HPT champions and tour regulars Craig “The Legend” Casino and Terry Ring. Bennett finished in seventh place at his first Final Table for a score of $10,357. When asked if he planned to give a cut of his winnings to Casino and Ring, Bennett chuckled and said with a smile, “I told them thank you several times.”

Air Force vet turned poker pro Jonathan Hanner did well to make the televised Final Table in his first HPT event. Unfortunately for Hanner, the run ended there. He was the first player knocked out on Monday. The St. Paul, Minnesota native collected $7,672 for ninth place.

It didn’t take long for the second elimination. On the very next hand, Paul McCaffrey saw his day come to an end at the hands of Alexander. Originally from Ireland, McCaffrey now hails from San Ramon, California. The property manager was hoping to improve on his fourth-place finish last month in Las Vegas. It wasn’t meant to be this time, though. McCaffrey plans to use the $9,078 he earned for eighth place to give his children a good Christmas.

From here, the HPT crew will load up the lights and cameras and head to Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago. The series at that property is already underway with the opening flight of the Main Event scheduled to kick off this Thursday. Visit for the full schedule from East Chicago and a list of 2015 tour stops.