Florida-Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room Recap

 Holland Keeps HPT Title, $80K in Florida


Daytona Beach, Florida (March 31, 2014) Heartland Poker Tour’s stop at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room again attracted players from across the United States who appreciate the warm weather and well-run event.  Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were represented at the televised Final Table. Although the final nine players hailed from seven different states, residents of the Sunshine State proved to have the home field advantage.  The only three Florida residents at the Final Table finished first, second, and third. Pool builder Wesley Holland of Altemonte Springs scored the win with a well-played ace-queen against queen-jack to defeat Dalton Mills of Jacksonville Beach.  Holland earned $80,993 for the title while the runner-up took home $49,950. 


The three-handed battle between Mills, Holland, and Saum Sharifi lasted 67 hands. Sharifi ultimately made his exit with ace-three against Mills’ queen-five. A queen came on the river to eliminate the Longwood, Florida resident in third place for $33,750.


Keith Romanovitz got one of the seats at HPT’s televised table when the tour visited Daytona Beach in October. He went on to finish seventh in that event, but fared even better this time around.  Romanovitz survived to fourth place on Monday and picked up $23,963. In his final hand, Romanovitz was ahead with ace-four against Sharifi’s king-queen until a queen came on the flop. The Salem, Massachusetts man now has his sights set on the senior event at this summer’s World Series of Poker. 


Gionni DeMers started the Final Table as one of the big stacks. After doubling a few of the shorter stacks, he was the one at risk. The Jackson, New Jersey pro was eliminated in fifth place when Mills hit a straight on the turn. He collected $18,563.


“It would mean a lot to be an HPT champion because I haven’t won anything big before,” said Chris Lindh of Las Vegas, Nevada.  With over a half million dollars in career winnings, he’s done well nonetheless.  The pro player took home $15,188 for a weekend of work at Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room. He was eliminated in sixth place when his pocket threes ran into the sixes of Romanovitz.


Seventh-place finisher Joe Froehle’s tournament came to an end with ace-jack against Sharifi’s pocket queens. The Springfield, Missouri financial advisor took home $12,656. “HPT is fantastic,” he said, “I have played many HPT tournaments. The structure is amazing and the players are wonderful.”


Jeremiah Pierce became an HPT fan in Daytona Beach.  He traveled from Florence, South Carolina to play the tour for the first time.   “I think HPT is an excellent tour,” he said, “The structure is great and the staff is super friendly.” The tournament came to an end for him in seventh place when his ten-eight was unable to improve against Mills’ ace-seven. Pierce is planning to use the $10,631 he won to play in more tournaments.  “I will be coming back,” he said. 


Pierce will have plenty of events to choose from as the tour braces for a record number of stops in 2014.  Upcoming tournaments include Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City and The Commerce Casino in the Los Angeles area. At each stop, HPT films two episodes of the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour.


Playing in front of HPT’s cameras was surreal for Ed Buchanan, who finished ninth for $8,775.  The San Antonio, Texas salesman is a loyal viewer of the show.  “I love HPT,” he said, “I record all the programs. I got it on my DVR. I don’t miss a single episode.”