The Heartland Poker Tour Daytona Beach $1,100 Main Event came to an end Monday night, and after three exciting days of play it was Eric Salazar reigning supreme for a $98,476 first-place prize, along with a $3,500 HPT Championship package after besting a 445-entry field.
Salazar is a well-known regular to many poker scenes amongst the country, boasting or half a million in career earnings with a vast majority coming this year. The HPT win marked his third six-figure cash if you include the HPT Championship package. The Asheboro, North Carolina native came into the day fifth in chips and instantly became one of the most lively players on the table, when in or out of a hand.
"I guess I should maybe just put my phone away more often, I'm usually just always on my phone," said Salazar with a laugh when asked about the amount of fun he was having. Not only was he having fun, but he was also playing at a maximum level of confidence, "This morning when I woke up I just felt it, you know. I just have a thing to like to go for it, sometimes it's my downfall, unfortunately, but it is 100% why I pick up the chips, so I stick to that and try to stay confident."
Salazar final tabled an HPT Main Event in Chicago two months back finishing third for a respectable $74,456. Asked about his victory he had something to say, "It feels AMAAAAZING! Man this morning I just kind of like felt it, I woke up at eight and just could not go back to bed, so I went to do some stuff and just kept saying that I'm gonna win today. I'm gonna win!"
Final Table Results
|1||Eric Salazar||United States||$98,476 +$3,500 HPT CP|
|2||Michael Rosenberg||United States||$60,797|
|3||Ronnie Dowdy||United States||$40,460|
|4||Martin Borras||United States||$28,044|
|5||Luke Graham||United States||$21,193|
|6||Paul Chung||United States||$16,484|
|7||Tom Nguyen||United State||$13,701|
|8||Arthur Boatman||United States||$11,346|
|9||Miguel Hernandez||United States||$9,591|
Final Day Action
The tournament came back to the final day with just nine players remaining and of those, only four had over 20 big blinds to start. The five short-stacks quickly started to jump through hoops to attain a viable stack as the blinds started to rise. Just hands into the first level, Miguel Hernandez moved his thirteen-big-blind stack into the middle with ace-jack, only to collide with the ace-king of Luke Graham. Hernandez failed to overtake his opponent's hand and was the first player to take an exit from Day 3.
Arthur Boatman was at the bottom of the barrel to begin the final day and it did not take long for his chips to find their way into the middle as he shoved all in just hands after Hernandez was eliminated. Boatman moved all in with his Big Slick and was snap-called by Salazar, who held one of the few hands that could dominate Boatman in pocket aces. Boatman missed completely and was drawing dead on the turn, leaving the tournament in eighth place.
It took just one more hand to find another elimination, this time being Tom Nguyen in the first of what would be many bad beats to happen during the last day of play. Nguyen moved his stack into the middle with ace-seven of diamonds and action folded to Martin Borras, who called with a pair of nines in the big blind. The flop came down ace-high, moving Nguyen into a commanding lead that had Borras drawing slim. A brick hit on the turn but the river came down one of the two nines left in the deck and Borras stole the pot back from Nguyen, eliminating him in seventh place.
Two levels went by and during that time it seemed that no short-stack would fall with endless bad runouts ending in the person at risk doubling until Paul Chung proved that theory wrong. Chung came back from the break with ten big blinds and saw action fold to him on the button. He moved all in with ten-eight of spades, Salazar called from the small blind with a pair of rockets, and again sent another opponent out with aces.
The five-handed play saw Graham whittled down to the shorter side of things after starting the day as the chip leader. Graham leveraged that short stack to the point of almost making a comeback, but he found the same fate as many before him, running his jacks into the kings of Salazar. Graham fought a valiant battle but failed to crack the kings of Salazar and was eliminated in fifth place.
During the next level of play, it was Ronnie Dowdy who found himself running up a stack, going from the smallest to the tallest as he scooped in several pots. Dowdy then went on a downswing, falling close to the bottom before he secured a pot that put him back in the running. Unfortunately for Borras, he was the one that would suffer. Dowdy moved his remaining stack all in with ace-three of spades and Borras instantly called off for just a bit less, holding a pair of cowboys. The window card was a nasty ace and the rest is history as Borras took a dip in fourth for $28,044.
Salazar instantly shut down any plans of Dowdy taking over, doubling through him with ace-six versus Dowdy's king-queen. Dowdy was left short and was facing an all-in bet from Michael Rosenberg. Dowdy called the all-in of Rosenberg and the two tabled their hands, Dowdy with a pair of nickels, Rosenberg with a pair of dimes and the board unaffecting either as Rosenberg's pair of tens took down the pot. Dowdy was eliminated from the tournament in third place after a rollercoaster ride.
Heads-up play saw the red-hot Salazar go up against someone who seemed to have alligator blood flowing through his veins. Rosenberg had survived seven double-ups en route to the finale and Salazar was the only one left that could shut him down. Rosenberg drew first blood, taking the lead, which was instantly sent back to Salazar after the two put all of their chips in on a flip. Salazar won that race and took a commanding lead, Rosenberg was left short but fought back and found a double. Shortly after Rosenberg found the double, the last hand of the night took place. Rosenberg moved all in with queen-ten and Salazar called with his pair of treys. The board ran out dry and Salazar took down the event with Rosenberg having to settle for second, pocketing a respectable $60,797.
That wraps it up for the PokerNews live coverage of the Heartland Poker Tour here in beautiful Daytona Beach.