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Bob Chow Wins Heartland Poker Tour Majestic Star Casino & Hotel for $171,534

The HPT Majestic Star Casino finalists

The Heartland Poker Tour Majestic Star Casino Hotel in Gary, Indiana concluded on Monday as the final nine players of a 520-player field returned to battle it out for the $171,534 first-place prize. The most accomplished player left in contention was 2011/2012 World Series of Poker Circuit Hammond Main Event champ Bob Chow, who used his experience to play his way to victory.

HPT Majestic Star Casino Final Table Results

1stBob Chow$171,534
2ndVu Huang$104,859
3rdBruce Knee$69,509
4thDarryl Ronconi$48,328
5thJoe Wilson$36,171
6thDavid Gutfreund$27,968
7thMike Deis$18,645
8thThomas Schrepfer$18,645
9thMurat Muftari$14,916

The stop marked the 12th time the HPT visited the riverboat, and once again the Main Event grew in prestige and attendance as it increased 38% over last year. The final table was an eclectic mix of players, including former Special Forces member Murat Muftari of Royal Oak, Michigan, who was the first to go. According to the HPT, Bruce Knee bet a king-high flop only to have Muftari move all-in over the top. Knee called with {a-}{k-} for top pair and top kicker, which was out in front of Muftari’s top pair with second-best kicker. Neither the turn nor river helped Muftari and he was out in ninth place for $14,916.

In the very next hand, Thomas Schrepfer, a physician from Urbana, Illinois, committed his last chips with a straight draw and was eliminated by Chow, who held top pair with top kicker. Schrepfer earned $18,645 for his eighth-place finish. Just two hands later, Mike Deis followed Schrepfer out the door. The Chicago salesman ran {2-}{2-} into Chow’s {q-}{q-} and failed to improve, which sent him packing in seventh place for $22,744.

It took awhile for the next elimination to occur, but it happened when David Gutfreund, a game manager from Chicago, moved all-in with {q-}{q-} and was called by Vu Huang who had {a-}{k-}. An ace on the turn gave Huang the win and sent Gutfreund home in sixth place for $27,968.

"It's a different atmosphere to play an HPT event,” said Gutfreund after his elimination. “So friendly and just a fun time."

The next to go was environmental contractor Joe Wilson of Cary, Illinois, who was playing in his first-ever HPT event. Wilson fell when his {k-}{9-} failed to overcome the {a-}{9-} of Chow in an all-in-preflop confrontation. Wilson finished in fifth place for $36,171.

Darryl Ronconi, a chief information officer from Naperville, Illinois, said he cancelled trips to Florida and Foxwoods to play this event because of the structure. It proved a wise decision as Ronconi made a deep run, ultimately finishing in fourth place after his {10-}{10-} lost a race to Chow’s {a-}{k-}. He collected $48,328 for his efforts.

Knee, a carpet salesman from Vernon, Illinois who made an HPT Final Table back in 2007 and finished in third place for nearly $15,000, once again found himself as the third-place finisher, though the money he earned — $69,509 — was a lot more than he collected six years ago.

HPT Majestic Star champ Bob Chow
HPT Majestic Star champ Bob Chow

Knee’s elimination set up a heads-up battle between Chow and Huang, one that lasted 29 hands. That is when both made a straight with Chow’s proving bigger. With that, the 53-year-old from Schaumberg, Illinois took down the biggest-ever HPT field at the Majestic Star. Huang, who got into the tournament through a $190 satellite, left with a nice consolation prize of $104,859.

Meanwhile, Chow earned $171,534 for his victory. “The new structure is a tremendous structure for this type of tournament, plenty of play," the humble champ said after the win.

The next Heartland Poker Tour Event will take place at the Golden Gates Casino in Colorado from Sept. 6-16. For more information, visit

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