This past weekend, the Heartland Poker Tour held its second consecutive stop in California at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, which was the HPT’s first time in Northern California. The $1,650 buy-in tournament attracted 542 players and created a prize pool of $785,610. After three long days of play, Michael Rosenbach of Berkeley emerged victorious to capture the $180,689 first-place prize and $3,000 package into the HPT Championship.
2013 HPT Thunder Valley Casino Resort Final Table Results
|1st||Michael Rosenbach||Berkeley, CA||$180,689|
|2nd||Mel Weiner||Calabasas, CA||$110,457|
|3rd||Yotam Shmuelov||San Francisco, CA||$73,219|
|4th||William Chao||El Sobrante||$50,908|
|5th||Kevin O'Donnell||Scottsdale, CA||$38,102|
|6th||Lori Bare||Santa Cruz, CA||$29,460|
|7th||Kirby Nunn||Cutten, CA||$23,961|
|8th||Joe Fernandez||Turlock, CA||$19,640|
|9th||Andrew Higgins||Sacramento, CA||$15,712|
The tournament attracted some big names in World Series of Poker November Nine chip leader JC Tran and WSOP commentator Lon McEachern, and while both made Day 2, they would go no further.
According to the HPT Live Blog, the first elimination of the final table came on the ninth hand of play when Andrew Higgins got all in with only to run into the of Joe Fernandez. The board ran out clean and Higgins was sent to the rail in ninth place for $15,712. Eight-handed play last fifty hands, but eventually Fernandez was sent packing when his failed to overcome the of Kirby Nunn, a retired air traffic controller from Cutten, California. Fernandez found a queen on the flop, but Nunn found a king to fell Fernandez in eighth place for $19,640.
After Nunn, who had qualified for the tournament for $80, followed him out the door in seventh place for $23,961, it was time for Lori Bare, a preschool teacher from Santa Cruz, to go out in sixth place. It happened on Hand #80 of the final table in Level 29 (40,000/80,000/10,000) when Kevin O’Donnell limped, Bare did the same, and William Chao checked his option. The flop saw Bare move all in and only Chao called. Bare rolled over the for a flopped flush, but unfortunately for her it was second best to Chao’s flush. Neither the turn nor river influenced the hand and Bare took home $29,460 for her performance.
Four hands later, Rosenbach opened for 210,000, Mel Weiner three-bet to 410,000 from the button, and O’Donnell moved all in. Rosenbach folded and Weiner snap-called.
O’Donnell had picked a bad spot, but he did get a sweat when the flop paired his seven. The turn was no help, which meant O’Donnell needed either a six or seven on the river to stay alive. Unfortunately for him, the was not it and he exited in fifth place for $38,102.
Four-handed lasted for quite some time, but it came to a head on Hand #144 in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000). It happened when Chao, a professional poker player from El Sobrante, California, moved all in and received calls from both Rosenbach and Yotam Shmuelov. The two active players checked both the flop and turn, and then Shmuelov bet 200,000 on the river. Rosenbach responded with a raise to 475,000 and Shmuelov folded. Rosenbach rolled over a straight and Chao was eliminated in fourth place for $50,908.
Shmuelov, who co-owns a moving company, was eliminated by Rosenbach in the very next hand, setting up a heads-up match between Rosenbach (11.95 million) and Weiner (4.39 million). Interestingly, Weiner, real estate investor from Calabasas, California, was fresh off a third-place finish at the HPT’s stop at The Commerce Casino.
It took 25 hands for Rosenbach to finish the job, which meant the tournament came to an end more than ten hours into play on Hand #171. It happened in Level 33 (100,000/200,000/30,000) when Weiner limped and Rosenbach checked his option. The flop saw Weiner call a bet of 200,000, the dealer burned and turned the , and Rosenbach bet 385,000. Weiner popped it to 2.085 million and then called off when Rosenbach moved all in. Weiner tabled the for an open-ended straight draw with a flush draw, which he’d need to hit as Rosenbach already held a straight with the . The blanked on the river and it was all over.
"I don't know how I made back-to-back Final Tables,” Weiner said after his elimination. “I was on another planet; the cards were just hitting me.”
Meanwhile, Rosenbach became the latest HPT champion and took home a healthy $180,689.
The HPT’s next stop will be at the Club One Casino in Fresno, California. The tour will return to Thunder Valley Casino Resort January 17-26, 2014.
*Photos and data courtesy of the Heartland Poker Tour.