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Cong Pham Wins Heartland Poker Tour Daytona Beach Kennel Club for $104,033

The HPT Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room Final Table.

The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) visited the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room this past weekend. The $1,650 Main Event attracted 291 players and created a prize pool of $433,500. After three long days of play, 29-year-old Cong Pham walked away with the title, $104,033 first-place prize, and a $3,000 package into the HPT Championship.

1stCong PhamNaples, FL$104,033*
2ndJames CalderaroManasota Beach, FL$64,158
3rdThomas GiorgiValrico, FL$43,350
4thLuis SierraSanford, FL$30,779
5thJohn HolleyNiceville, FL$23,843
6thJustin FawbushCocoa Beach, FL$19,508
7thKeith RomanovitzSalem, MA$16,256
8thTalesh PatelSt. Augustine, FL$13,655
9thPeter WalsworthN/A$11,271

*Prize includes $3,000 HPT Championship Package

According to the HPT live blog, the first elimination of the day came on Hand #17 of the final table. It happened in Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000) when Peter Walsworth opened for 85,000 from the button and Thomas Giorgi moved all in from the small blind. Walsworth called off with the {k-Diamonds}{k-Spades} and was well ahead of Giorgi’s {j-Clubs}{j-Hearts}. The {q-Hearts}{8-Hearts}{3-Hearts} flop gave Giorgi a flush draw, but it’d be the {J-Diamonds} on the turn that would give him the lead. The {10-Clubs} blanked on the river and Walsworth was sent to the rail in ninth place for $11,271.

James Calderaro
James Calderaro

Later on in the level, on Hand #32 to be exact, James Calderaro raised to 90,000 from middle position and then called when a short-stacked Talesh Patel shoved all in from the cutoff. Patel was ahead with the {a-Clubs}{6-Clubs}, but Calderaro held two live cards with the {q-Hearts}{5-Hearts}. Much to Patel’s dismay, the board ran out {9-Diamonds}{8-Hearts}{5-Spades}{6-Spades}{q-Diamonds} to give Calderaro two pair and the win. Patel took home $13,655 for his eighth-place finish.

After Keith Romanovitz and Justin Fawbush were eliminated in seventh and sixth place, respectively, John Holley followed them out the door in fifth. It happened in Level 29 (40,000/80,000/10,000) on Hand #87 when Calderaro opened for 180,000 and then called when Holley moved all in.

Holley: {a-Hearts}{8-Diamonds}
Calderaro: {j-Hearts}{j-Spades}

According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Calderaro was a 71.13% favorite while Holley would remain in the tournament just 28.51% of the time. The {10-Clubs}{4-Spades}{4-Diamonds} flop increased Calderaro’s chances to 87.17% and dropped Holley’s to 12.83%. Unfortunately for Holley, any sweat he had came to an end when the {J-Clubs} turn gave Calderaro a full house. The meaningless {9-Clubs} was run out on the river for good measure and Holley, who finished third in the 2013 World Series of Poker Seniors Event, took home $23,843 for his fifth-place finish.

On the very next hand, Luis Sierra moved all in from the under-the-gun position holding the {q-Clubs}{9-Hearts} and Pham called from the button with the {q-Spades}{j-Clubs}. The board ran out {a-Clubs}{6-Clubs}{2-Spades}{10-Clubs}{k-Diamonds} and Sierra exited in fourth place for $30,779.

On Hand #104, Giorgi raised to 180,000 from the small blind, Calderaro called from the big, and the flop came down {8-Clubs}{8-Spades}{5-Clubs}. Giorgi bet 200,000, Calderaro called, and the dealer burned and turned the {4-Diamonds}. Giorgi bet again, this time 400,000, and Calderaro called. When the {Q-Hearts} completed the board on the river, Giorgi bet and then called off when Calderaro moved all in. Giorgi tabled the {k-}{8-} for trips, but it was no good as Calderaro had turned a straight with the {7-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}. Giorgi was awarded $43,350 for his third-place finish.

Calderaro began heads-up play with more than a 2-1 chip lead over Cong, and it turned out to be a memorable match. “I hope viewers enjoy this. It’s a good heads-up match,” said four-time HPT champ Greg “Fossilman” Raymer who commentated the final table live for

Cong Pham
Cong Pham

The two battled for 46 hands, during which time Cong managed to take over the chip lead. In Level 30 (50,000/100,000/10,000), the last hand of the tournament — Hand #151 of the final table — unfolded when Calderaro raised to 200,000 only to have Pham three-bet to 650,000. Calderaro then moved all in and Pham snap-called.

Pham: {a-Spades}{a-Hearts}
Calderaro: {8-Clubs}{8-Spades}

Calderaro was in need of an eight to extend his tournament life, but it wasn’t in the cards as the board ran out {10-Spades}{6-Clubs}{3-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{q-Spades}. Calderaro finished as runner-up for $64,158 while Cong became the latest HPT Champion for $104,033.

“This was my first time playing the HPT,” Pham said after the win. “But I like it and I’m excited for next time."

The current HPT event is taking place at Oklahoma-Indigo Sky Casino until Oct. 20.

*Photos courtesy of Heartland Poker Tour.

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