Indiana - Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago Recap
Captures HPT Title and $120k
pro tops star-studded field at Ameristar East Chicago
East Chicago, IN (May 11, 2015) – Last night,
Nick Pupillo was one card away from
being eliminated from the Heartland Poker
Tour Main Event at Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago. Today he was
crowned the newest HPT champion to the tune of $120,537. The victory is the
largest of the professional poker player’s career to date.
On the eve of the nationally televised Final
Table, with 12 players remaining, Pupillo found himself all in before the flop
with pocket jacks. He was up against the formidable pocket aces of Phil
Gilreath. As the cards ran out, Pupillo hit a straight to win the pot. Gilreath
would go on to finish in tenth.
“I was almost out,” said Pupillo during his
winner’s interview. “I enjoyed today.”
When heads up play began, Pupillo was nearly a
two to one underdog against eventual runner-up Ronald Rindone of Prospect Heights, Illinois. He erased that
deficit rather quickly and carried his momentum to a speedy victory. On the
final hand, the two found themselves all in with Pupillo holding pocket kings
to Rindone’s ace-seven. The ace never hit and the local tax accountant who’s
been playing poker for over 50 years was out in second place. He took home $74,414
for that finish.
Ship captain Robert
Castoire came into the day second in chips. The Cecilia, Kentucky man played
well enough to take third place in his first HPT event. Castoire can now add
$49,522 to an impressive career earnings total of over $300k.
The only player with more chips than Castoire
when the day began was Saint John, Indiana’s Timothy Shanks. The salesman had invested just $200 to play in the
tournament. While he was unable to ride his chip lead to victory, Shanks was
able to parlay that $200 investment into $34,325 for third place.
Many notables made the trip to Ameristar East
Chicago over the weekend to play in the Main Event. Among the recognizable
faces in the field were Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler,
Craig “The Legend” Casino, and the tour’s current Player of the Year Aaron
Reginald “Shawn” Roberts is a name that
HPT faithful have become familiar with. The business owner from Springfield,
Missouri now stands alone atop the list of all-time HPT Final Table appearances.
This was his eighth time playing under the bright lights. Though he would go on
to finish in fifth place, Roberts was able to pad his lead on the Season XI
Player of the Year race. He earned $25,940 in the process.
The sixth-place finisher on Monday was Aurelian Furcoiu. Furcoiu, an engineer,
quietly climbed the pay ladder by staving off elimination early on. The East
Peoria, Illinois resident would walk away with a respectable $20,176 for his
weekend’s worth of work.
With nearly $2 million in career earnings, Thomas Koral was one of the more feared
opponents at the Final Table. The local professional wasn’t able to get much
going early on. In the end, Koral got all of his chips in the middle with two
pair, but Shanks quickly called with a straight. Koral was sent to the rail in
seventh place for $16,769. He plans to use his winnings for a much needed
Another player with previous experience in front
of the HPT cameras was Joel Casper.
The Elmhurst, Illinois native won an HPT event back in 2006. This time around
he would finish in eighth place. Casper, an investment wholesaler by trade, collected
The first of the final nine to see his day come
to an end was semi-pro poker player Bryan
Livingston. As one of the shorter stacks, Livingston knew he’d have to make
a move early on. He tried his luck in one of the first hands of the day with
ace-jack. Roberts quickly called with pocket queens and Livingston was out of
the tournament. He took home $11,738 for ninth place.
From here, HPT will take a break before
returning to the road for a late summer series in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. There
are currently nine summer and fall stops on the schedule, with more additions
to be announced in the near future. Visit HPTpoker.com for more information.