A 20-year-old Joey Chalbaud was determined to play his first major tournament when the Heartland Poker Tour rolled into the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room in February. He hoped to win enough to take a cruise, buy a car and share with his mom. The Lake Mary, Fla., student wasn’t discouraged when he finished one place short of winning his way in through four qualifier attempts. He ultimately paid the $1,650 main event buy-in for his first TV tournament and was glad he did.
“I like the structure. I like everything about it,” Chalbaud said. He also liked the $105,177 he earned as the first HPT champion of 2012, the tour’s eighth season.
Persistence also paid off for Barry Hutter of Bradenton, Fla. Though the pro was knocked out twice from the main event, HPT’s new re-entry option allows players to play multiple flights when eliminated. The third time was the charm for the 25-year-old, who eventually made the televised final table. As the short stack, Hutter was satisfied with his fifth-place finish. He adds $25,120 to his $200,000 in lifetime tournament winnings.
The new structure, which includes more playing time, was praised throughout the weekend by players.
“I definitely like the HPT structure,” said Troy Wallace of Port Orange, Fla. “I’ll play more of them.” The 26-year-old finished 14th when HPT last visited Daytona Beach, improving to fourth place this time for $32,676.
In contrast to the twenty-somethings at the table was Enos Smith of Palm Coast, Fla. At 58, he was more than twice the age of some, an advantage in his opinion.
“I think I am wiser and more patient,” he said. Smith had the patience to work his way through the satellite system. It was a wise investment. Smith entered for just $120 and left with $59,225 as runner-up.
Tony Lay of Oklahoma City, the 47-year-old father of two and no stranger to HPT final tables, earned $37,782 for third place.
Some big names turned out, including pros Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho, who were both knocked out in Day 1.
Darvin Moon, 2009’s World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up and popular pro who has been to DBKC before, was knocked out of the HPT main, but won a side tournament for $4,600.
Next up for DBKC is the Spring Fling Deep Stack from March 23-April 1, including a $100K main event.