Missouri - River City Casino & Hotel Recap

Local Man Wins HPT Title in St. Louis

Paul Belken Jr. earns $95k at River City Casino & Hotel

St. Louis, MO (April 13, 2015) – A painting contractor from Festus, Missouri managed to turn a $375 investment into a score of $95,645 this weekend on Heartland Poker Tour (HPT). Paul Belken Jr. won the nationally televised Main Event at River City Casino & Hotel late Monday night to earn the biggest payday of his poker career.

“It’s awesome. I just can’t even put words to it yet,” said the new champ.

The road to victory wasn’t easy for Belken, even though the majority of the crowd was in his corner. His final opponent was one of the winningest players in HPT history, Reginald “Shawn” Roberts. Roberts, a business owner from Springfield, Missouri, was making his seventh Final Table appearance with the tour. That feat has only been matched by two other players, Stan Jablonski and Craig Casino. Three times before Roberts came out a winner. His bid for a fourth Title came up short when Belken eliminated him in second place after a lengthy heads up battle. Roberts took home $61,134 for his efforts.

The strong finish was good enough to catapult Roberts to the top of the HPT Player of the Year leaderboard, but the past champion knows he’s still got work to do to secure the coveted award. “This will put me in the lead, but there’s a lot of poker left to play,” he said.

Another player who is no stranger to playing under the bright lights is Paul Fehlig. The St. Louis man boasts nearly $300k in live tournament winnings, including a runner-up finish at River City in late 2013. Fehlig was unable to top that finish this go around. Roberts sent him to the rail in third place for $40,964.

Familiar faces from all across the country made the trek to River City to take a shot at the life-changing money. Former world champ Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and current HPT Player of the Year Aaron Massey were among the notables at the tables over the weekend. In the end, most of the prize pool money stayed in the area with eight of the final nine players hailing from Missouri or just across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

Much like Belken, business developer Ryan White won his seat through a $375 qualifier tournament. The Leawood, Kansas native saw a great ROI when he ran that sum up to $28,904 by finishing in fourth place.

Sullivan, Missouri’s Cullen Oldham played a solid game for several hours on Monday. He eventually found himself all-in before the flop with pocket jacks against Fehlig’s ace-king. Oldham, an electrician, came out on the losing end of the proverbial coinflip and lost the rest of his chips a few hands later. He took home $21,626 for the fifth place finish.

Mike Rieck of Louisiana, Missouri exited in sixth place at the hands of White. He earned $17,467. Shortly before his departure, Trenton, Illinois’ Jason Bliven was knocked out in seventh for $14,556. Bliven, a roofer by trade, started the day with a sizable chip lead but was never able to get anything going.

The table’s eighth-place finisher was Vadim Kleydman. The local poker player got $12,061 for his weekend’s worth of work and he plans to use those winnings to play in more tournaments down the road.

The first elimination of the day came when Phil Gilreath pushed his short stack in with queen-nine and was called by Fehlig’s ace-eight. When the cards ran out, Fehlig had three of a kind to Gilreath’s lone pair and the Columbia, Illinois man was out in ninth for a $10,439 payday.

HPT will take a short break before making a return visit to Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago at the end of the month. That 10-day series will run from April 30 to May 10. All of the details are available now at HPTpoker.com.

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