Michigan - Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort Recap

Third Time a Charm for Gutfreund on HPT

$156k prize awarded at Soaring Eagle

Mt. Pleasant, MI (November 24, 2014) – David Gutfreund came oh-so-close to a Heartland Poker Tour championship twice before, but the cards didn't fall in his favor on either trip to HPT's TV table. The third time proved to be a charm at HPT's most prestigious event of the year, the annual Championship Open at Soaring Eagle Casino Resort. The Chicago man finally came out on top of a tough field that included most of the season's champs, picking up $156,649 for the win.

“I thought if I got here enough times, I’d run good at a Final Table,” said the new champ. “It makes up for a lot of times when things didn't go my way...It’s a great feeling and I can’t wait to get paid.”

Among Gutfreund's opponentsin front of the cameras at the Final Table were a mother and son duo, a two-time HPT champ, and a former world champion.

The lastplayerstanding inGutfreund'sway wasReginald "Shawn" Roberts,who was making a run at his third HPT title.The lengthy heads-up match came to a closewith Robertsholdingjacks to Gutfreund'sace-eight. An ace on the river gave Gutfreund the championship he's coveted for years.Roberts, a business owner from Springfield, Missouri, will add $96,657 to his total earnings for second place.

Many champions from throughout 2014 made the trip to the Michigan property for the season-ending Championship Open. Among them was Aaron Masseywho officially became HPT's 2014 Player of the Year. A big year with two championship titles gave him enough points to land the prestigious honor and the Main Event buy ins that go with it. He joins an elite list of past POYs including Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler.

Vincent Fiorenzahad a taste of success earlier this year when he won an HPT Title in Daytona Beach. The bar manager from Oviedo, Florida showed that his win was no fluke by making another Final Table at Soaring Eagle. His quest for a second Season X Title came up short when Gutfreund knocked him out in fifth place for $32,663.

Vincent wasn’t the only Fiorenza among the final nineon Monday. His motherAntoinettealso made the televised Final Table. She came into the day with the smallest stack, but managed to double on the very first hand. From there, the retiree from Daytona Beach was able to ride her chip stack to a seventh-place finish. She took home $21,931 for her efforts, bringing the mother/son duo’s weekend earnings to a total of $54,594.

Joe Cada,2009 WSOP Main Event Champion,was playing under the lights with HPT for the second time. He was in good shape to become the chip leader when he got all of his chips into the middle with pocket kings against Vincent Fiorenza’s ace-ten. However, an ace on the river gave Fiorenza the pot and Cada, from nearby Shelby Township, was sent to the rail with $17,998 for eighth place.

At the start of the day, the chances ofMichael O’Neilllasting very long were slim. Only one player had less chips than him when play began. O’Neillmade the best of the stack and played his way to a third-place finish. The purchasing manager from Royal Oak, Michigan will take home $63,327 forhis efforts.

Midland, Michigan residentCuong Tranfaced a tough decision on a flop that read ten-nine-four. After going deep into the think tank for several minutes, the nail technician finally made the call and put his tournament lifeon the linewith king-nine. To his dismay, he was up against the ace-ten of Roberts. The turn nor river produced a king or a nine and Tran was sent home in fourth place for a score of $43,996.

Retired pipefitterJames Wetherellhad the least money invested of anyoneat the Final Table. The Vietnam vet qualified for the tournament for just $370 and quietly parlayed that all the way to a $25,331 payday for sixth place. Wetherell, a native of Coleman, Michigan, plans to use his newfound earnings to play more poker.

Restaurant ownerYaroob Kaskorkinotched his highest career cash when he was eliminated in ninth place for $14,665. The Grand Rapids, Michigan man attempted to double up early but came out on the losing end of a coin flip with Roberts.

In its monumental tenth season, HPT had more stops than ever before and awarded over $11 million dollars in Main Event prize money. The first stop of Season XI will begin this weekend at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. From there, the tour will end the year with a series at Ameristar Casino in East Chicago. Log on toHPTpoker.comto view all upcoming stops.


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