This past weekend, the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) was at the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, Indiana for a $1,650 Main Event. The tournament attracted 538 entries which included a wide variety of players like NBA veteran Shawn Marion, 2013 HPT Player of the Year Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler, and HPT veteran Craig "The Legend" Casino.
Current Player of the Year contenders Edward Ochana and Colin York finished in 34th and 21st respectively, but it was well-known poker grinder Aaron Massey who emerged victorious to capture the $177,502 first-place prize. The win marked Massey’s third-largest career score, with the other two being a third-place finish in the 2014 World Series of Poker Event #55 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em for $255,209 and first in the 2012 The River Guaranteed $4,000,000 Poker Series Main Event for $651,559.
"I don't have any words to say how I feel right now... I really wanted to win. I just kept firing away and firing away until I finally won the title,” Massey said after the win.
HPT Ameristar East Chicago Results
|1||Aaron Massey||Elmwood Park, IL||$177,502|
|2||Stan Jablonski||Bullhead City, AZ||$108,504|
|3||Michael Vanderwoude||Crown Point, IN||$71,924|
|4||James Richison||Fort Wayne, IN||$50,007|
|5||Mike Mustafa||Orland Park, IL||$37,428|
|6||James Nelson||Wheeling, IL||$28,940|
|7||Paul Vivacqua||Chicago, IL||$23,537|
|8||Adam Zimowski||Racine, WI||$19,293|
|9||David Berman||Solon, OH||$15,434|
According to the HPT Live Blog, the first elimination at the final table came in Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000) on Hand #31 when Michael Vanderwoude raised to 105,000 from middle position andDavid Berman called from the small blind. It was heads-up action to the flop when Berman bet 200,000 and then called when Vanderwoude moved all in.
Vanderwoude had flopped middle pair, but it was no good as Berman held top pair. The turn reversed their spots though as Vanderwoude took a huge lead with trips. The river failed to help Berman, and the loan officer had to settle for ninth place and $15,434.
After Adam Zimowski and Paul Vivacqua bowed out in eighth and seventh place respectively, James Nelson followed them out the door in sixth. It happened in Level 29 (40,000/80,000/10,000) on Hand #87 of the final table when Mike Mustafa opened for 160,000 from under the gun and then called Nelson’s shove.
Nelson had picked the wrong time to shove, and he paid the ultimate piece after the board ran out a dry . The attorney and real estate broker plans to use his $28,940 winnings to treat himself to a trip for his upcoming 50th birthday.
As for Mustafa, who has more than $500,000 in career earnings, he fell on Hand #129 of the final table when the blinds were at 50,000/100,000/10,000. It happened when Mustafa opened for 230,000 from the button, Massey defended his big blind, and the flop came down . Massey checked, Mustafa bet 225,000, and Massey raised to 465,000. Mustafa moved all in and Massey made a quick call.
Massey was ahead with his queens and deuces, which held after the blanked on the turn followed by the on the river. Mustafa, an Orland Park, Illinois business owner who won his seat via a $375 qualifier, was dispatched in fifth place for $38,428.
The eliminations of James Richison and Vanderwoude in fourth and third place left Massey, who began the final table as chip leader, to do battle with tour regular and Bullhead City, Arizona native Stan Jablonski in heads-up play. The final table marked Jablonski’s fifth on the HPT, and his appearance in the final two was especially impressive considering he began the final table as the short stack.
The duo squared off in a lengthy heads-up match, but things finally came to a head on Hand #193 of the final table. In Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), Jablonski raised to 325,000, Massey called, and the flop came down . Massey checked, Jablonski bet 300,000, and Massey sprung to life with a check-raise to 710,000. Jablonski responded by moving all in and Massey called.
Jablonski put it in with an open-ended straight draw, which he needed to hit if he hoped to overcome the two pair of Massey. The turn ended it quickly as Massey improved to a full house, and the meaningless completed the board on the river. Jablonski finished as runner-up, which came with a $108,504 consolation prize, while Massey laid claim to the title.
For more on the HPT Ameristar, check out this video:
The next stop for the HPT will be at the California-Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7. A full schedule of events is available at HPTpoker.com.