Seneca Summer Slam

John Drikakis Wins Heartland Poker Tour Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort for $137,014

John Drikakis

This past weekend, the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) was at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan for the latest $1,650 Main Event. The tournament attracted 407 players and created a prize pool of $583,080. The last time the HPT visited the venue was back in November, which is when John Drikakis finished in sixth place.

In the latest stop, Drikakis satellited in via a $360 qualifier and once again made the final table. Not only that, the shipping-and-receiving clerk from Battle Creek, Michigan emerged as the last man standing to capture the title and $137,014 first-place prize.

1John DrikakisBattle Creek, MI$137,014
2Anthony MastraieniTemperance, MI$84,547
3Theodore ToberBay City, MI$55,393
4Gus VergosShelby Township, MI$38,483
5Bruce RowlandPierson, MI$28,571
6Clarence ArchamboCheboygan, MI$22,157
7Alex BarillAnn Arbor, MI$19,183
8Nick PupilloAddison, IL$15,743
9Millard HaleKalamazoo, MI$12,828

According to the HPT Live Blog, the first elimination of the final table came on Hand #14 in Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000) when Millard Hale moved all in for 510,000 from early position and Alex Barill called him.

Barill: {9-Clubs}{9-Hearts}
Hale: {a-Clubs}{j-Hearts}

It was a flip, but Hale needed to improve to stay alive. He didn’t do it on the {q-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}{6-Hearts} flop, and the {3-Clubs} turn was equally as useless. Hale needed either an ace or jack on the river to keep his tournament hopes alive, but it wasn’t in the cards as the {Q-Clubs} blanked. Hale, a poker pro from Kalamazoo, Michigan, was eliminated in ninth place for $12,828.

The next player to go was Nicholas Pupillo, who started the day second in chips. His demise came on Hand #35 when he ran his {a-Hearts}{10-Diamonds} into the {k-Hearts}{k-Clubs} of Anthony Mastraieni. The board ran out clean and Pupillo took home $15,743 for his eighth-place finish.

After Barill and Clarence Archambo fell in seventh and sixth place respectively, Bruce Rowland followed them out the door in fifth.

"I've come to Soaring Eagle for the last 20 years," said Rowland, a car salesman from Pierson, Michigan. "I like it here. The people treat me good."

Rowland also got into the tournament through a $360 qualifier, but his run came to an end in Level 28 (30,000/60,000/10,000) on Hand #80 of the final table when he raised to 150,000 from the button and Gus Vergos called from the small blind. After the flop fell {10-Spades}{6-Clubs}{4-Hearts}, Vergos checked and then called when Rowland shoved all in.

Vergos: {a-Clubs}{4-Spades}
Rowland: {a-Diamonds}{q-Spades}

Rowland had the best hand preflop, but Vergos paired his four to take the lead. Neither the {5-Clubs} turn nor {K-Clubs} river helped Rowland, and he had to settle for fifth place and $28,517 in prize money.

Vergos was the next to go when his king-queen failed to improve against Drikakis’ pocket sevens, and then Theodore Tober, who began the day as chip leader, took his leave in third place. Tober fell in Level 31 (60,000/120,000/15,000) on Hand #193 when he shoved all in holding the {a-Clubs}{j-Spades} and Drikakis called with the {a-Spades}{q-Hearts}. The board ran out {k-Diamonds}{q-Spades}{j-Hearts}{9-Hearts}{a-Diamonds} and that was all she wrote for Tober, who took home $55,393 for his third-place finish.

That left Drikakis holding a nearly 2-1 chip lead over Mastraieni, and it would take just nine hands for a winner to emerge. In Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), on Hand #202 of the final table, Drikakis opened for 390,000, Mastraieni called, and the flop came down {q-Hearts}{q-Clubs}{2-Hearts}, which both players checked. When the {4-Hearts} was put out on the turn, Mastraieni moved all in and Drikakis made a quick call.

Drikakis: {10-Hearts}{9-Hearts}
Mastraieni: {9-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}

Drikakis held a flush, which had Mastraieni drawing dead. The meaningless {A-Diamonds} was put out on the river for good measure, and Drikakis captured the title.

"I can't say thank you enough to everyone," a gracious Mastraieni said after his elimination in second place. "It's an honor to be here. It's been really enjoyable.”

Congratulations to John Drikakis on winning the HPT Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort for $137,014!

The next stop for the HPT will be at Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago from August 7-17. A full schedule of events is available at

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