The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) visited the Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel in Altoona, Iowa this past weekend. The $1,650 Main Event attracted 125 players and created a prize pool of $180,750. After three long days of play, Chris Louviere of Bangs, Texas walked away with the title, $54,225 first-place prize, and a $3,000 package into the season-ending HPT Championship.
|4th||Andy Van Blair||$15,996|
*Prize includes $3,000 HPT Championship package
According to the HPT website, the reigning HPT Iowa champ, Matt Hennig, began the day as the chip leader, but his hopes of winning back-to-back events at Prairie Meadows we quickly dashed. After losing a good portion of his chips, Hennig lost the remaining ones when he ran into the of Dash Saenz. Hennig, an insurance adjuster, took home $4,917 for his ninth-place finish.
The next player to go was Baltimore native Eddie Engel, who stopped at Prairie Meadows with some friends to play his first HPT tournament. Engel moved the last of his chips in with middle pair, but it was a bad time to do so as Terry Ring held top pair. Engel failed to improve and had to settle for eighth place and $6,326.
Likewise, Nick Marsh of Fort Dodge, Iowa was playing in his first HPT event and hoped to make the most of the opportunity. “This is the first HPT I’ve ever played in,” he told the HPT. “I have watched it and have wanted to be in that moment so bad.” Marsh had to settle for seventh place after his failed to overcome the of Louviere. Marsh earned $8,134 for his performance.
Ron Shultz, an HVAC technician from Wood River, Nebraska, was eliminated in sixth place when he ran into the pocket queens held by Andy Van Blair. “I DVR and watch a lot of the [HPT] shows, learn a lot, and always wanted to play in one of these,” Shultz said prior to final table play.
The aforementioned Saenz, who hails from Des Moines, Iowa, got his stack in with a flush draw, but failed to catch. That sent him home in fifth place for $12,020. Not too shabby considering he was the short stack at the start of the final table.
From there Van Blair hit the rail after he moved all in with and ran into the of Louviere. The occupational therapist from Des Moines was eliminated in fourth place for $15,996. Three-handed play lasted quite some time before Ring, a Vietnam vet from Durant, Iowa, bowed out in third for $21,690.
That left Louviere and Rick Goulden to do battle heads up, with the latter getting his shorter stack all in with against the former’s . A queen on the flop gave Louviere the lead, and it held through the river to send Goulden home as runner-up for $32,535.
Meanwhile, Louviere, who qualified for the tournament for $360 and began the final table seventh in chips, emerged victorious to capture the $54,225 first-place prize. Not only that, he was named the first-ever HPT Most Valuable Player — an award recently established for all HPT stops.
The HPT’s next event is already underway at Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, Indiana.
*Photos courtesy of Heartland Poker Tour.