On Monday, Craig Casino won the Heartland Poker Tour Soaring Eagle Casino for $153,323 and his second career HPT title. He did so by topping a final table that included 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Joe Cada and recent Big Brother reality TV star Vanessa Rousso.
"I love the HPT. It's my home game," said Casino, a certified arborist from Winfield, Illinois who has won more money, been to more final tables (8), and cashed in more tournaments (20) than any other player in HPT history. "I'm feeling very fortunate and it's great to have the second win."
Casino's first HPT win came back in 2011 when he took down the HPT Black Hawk Main Event for $293,270, his biggest score to date. All told, Casino has $765,045 in live tournament earnings.
The HPT Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort $1,650 Main Event, also known as the season-ending Championship Open, attracted 465 entrants, which created a prize pool of $666,600. It was also the last chance for players to earn points towards the Season XI Player of the Year race, which ultimately went to tour veteran Reginald "Shawn" Roberts after he finished 23rd in the Main Event, enough to lock up POY honors and earn complimentary buy-ins and hotel accommodations to six tour stops in 2016.
Final Table Results
|1||Craig Casino||Winfield, IL||$153,323|
|2||Jimmy Dennis||Elmwood, IL||$93,724|
|3||Joe Cada||Shelby Township, MI||$62,127|
|4||Danny Hannawa||W. Bloomfield, MI||$43,196|
|5||Chan Pelton||College Station, TX||$32,330|
|6||Andrew Holland||Macomb, MI||$24,998|
|7||Steven Hagar||White Lake Township, MI||$20,331|
|8||Vanessa Rousso||Las Vegas, NV||$16,665|
|9||Mark Johnson||Warren, MI||$13,332|
According to updates from the event, Casino began the final table as the chip leader and proceeded to eliminate five of his eight competitors, though that didn’t include the first two. Rousso, who placed third on Big Brother this past summer, scored the first knockout when her pocket jacks held against the tens of short-stacked Mark Johnson, who took home $13,332 for his ninth-place finish.
Despite earning that elimination, Rousso was the next to go after she got her last five big blinds all in preflop holding the against the of Danny Hannawa. Rousso got it in good, but fell behind on the flop. Neither the turn nor river helped Rousso, and she had to settle for eighth place and $16,665 in prize money.
From there, Casino got busy by eliminating real estate developed Steve Hagar and local player Andrew Holland in seventh and sixth place respectively, and then Jimmy Dennis dispatched Chan Pelton in fifth, the result of the latter's failing to get there against the former's pocket jacks.
After Hannawa bowed out in fourth, the final three players battled hard until Cada and Casino mixed it up in a big hand. Both players paid 375,000 to see a flop, and Casino checked to Cada, who bet 400,000. Casino woke up with a check-raise to 900,000, and then snap-called when Cada moved all in.
Cada was drawing thin to running straight cards, but was left drawing dead after the blanked on the turn. The meaningless was put out on the river for good measure, and Cada took his leave in third place for $62,127.
Two hands later, it was all over. Dennis shoved all in holding the and Casino called with the . The flop gave Casino the lead, and he held it on both the turn and river. Dennis, a poker dealer from Elmwood, Illinois who won his seat by making the Final Table of HPT's cruise event back in February, finished as runner-up for a $93,724 consolation prize.
The HPT's Season XII will kick off in mid-January with a stop in East Chicago. For more information, visit HPTpoker.com.