The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) recently completed its second stop of Season 11, which took place at Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago. The $1,650 Main Event attracted 498 entrants and created a prize pool of $714,120, and after three days of play, it was landscape contractor Mike Puccio of Deerfield, Illinois, that emerged victorious to capture the $164,249 first-place prize.
"I've been excited and nervous for the last two days," Puccio said of the experience. "I haven’t been able to close my eyes. It’ll be a nice Christmas, I’ll tell you that.”
Final Table Results
|1||Mike Puccio||Deerfield, IL||$164,249|
|2||Bledar “Blade” Shaholli||St. Clair Shores, MI||$100,405|
|3||Joshua Turner||St. Louis||$66,556|
|4||Shiva Dudani||Chicago, IL||$46,275|
|5||Ben Castle||Western Springs, IL||$34,635|
|6||Arris Kontos||Baldwin, MI||$26,780|
|7||Nicholas LaFata||Springfield, IL||$21,781|
|8||Yaroob Kaskorkis||Grand Rapids, MI||$17,853|
|9||William Miner||Chicago, IL||$14,282|
According to HPT live updates, the first elimination of the final table came in Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000) when William Miner open-shoved under the gun and Shiva Dudani isolated by moving all in over the top.
Miner picked up a gutshot straight draw on the flop, but he failed to complete it as the blanked on the turn followed by the river. The college grad exited in ninth place and took home $14,282 for his performance.
After Yaroob “Ruby” Kaskorkis, who was at an HPT final table last month, and Nicholas LaFata, who qualified via a $375 satellite, fell in eighth and seventh places, respectively, investment banker Arris Kontos followed them out the door in sixth.
From there, Ben Castle fell in fifth when his failed to hold up against the of Josh Turner, and then Dudani exited in fourth when he ran pocket tens into the jacks of Turner. Despite scoring back-to-back eliminations, Turner was the next to go when he got his stack all in holding the and was a slight favorite against the of Bledar “Blade” Shaholli. The flop gave Shaholli the lead, and he held onto it as the appeared on the turn followed by the on the river. Turner took home $66,556 for finishing third while Shaholli took a nearly 3-1 chip lead into heads-up play over Puccio.
The two played for nearly three hours, during which time Puccio clawed his way into the chip lead. Then, in Level 33 (100,000/200,000/30,000), the final and went down when Shaholli got his chips all in on a flop.
Shaholli was in trouble as Puccio had flopped two pair, but he picked up some help when the turn delivered him a flush draw. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t come in as the blanked on the river. Shaholli finished as runner-up for $100,405, while Puccio captured the title and $164,249 first-place prize.
“It’s going to be a good Christmas this year,” Puccio told the tournament reporter after the win. “My wife’s in tears. I was worried when he had me 3-1, but then I hit a rush of cards.”
The HPT is done for the year, but returns in 2014 with a weeklong poker cruise before heading to Northern California and Reno/Tahoe.
For more on the Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago stop, check out the HPT’s interview with Greg Raymer: