When it’s all said and done, Greg Raymer, the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, may be just as popular for his Heartland Poker Tour victories as he is for his WSOP triumph. The HPT returned to River City Casino in St. Louis, building on the success of its last visit in March, and Raymer captured his second HPT title this season on Oct. 1.
“Winning two of three tournaments is unreal and unexpected,” Raymer said. “I’m just very excited.”
He would then win the HPT event at Prairie Meadows in Iowa on Oct. 22 (we’ll have more on that next issue).
The St. Louis main event saw a field of 336 players, including pros Chris Moneymaker, Allen Kessler, Dennis Phillips and, of course, Raymer. HPT champions playing the event included Shawn Roberts and Craig Casino, the HPT all-time money leader.
At the end of Day 2, with seven players looking to make the final TV table of six, Phillips went all-in preflop with pocket queens, Penelope Banhidy woke up with two aces and eliminated the popular pro. The final table had two HPT champions, two women and two players at minimum entry age of 21.
Anthony Chester, who runs the River City Casino poker room and is tournament director, said he was pleased with the increased size in field this time around. “The cash events grew in size along with the main event,” he said. “Overall numbers were up across the board. The $100 second-chance (event) was everyone’s favorite tournament.”
Additional tournament tables and more circuit dealers allowed for larger fields and plenty of cash-game action.
Raymer entered the final table with one of the shorter stacks, but doubled through Stan Jablonski on the first flop to become chipleader. Alona Sushynina, 21, eliminated the next two players (Jablonski and Banhidy) and Roberts went out fourth to win more than $37K, giving him $100K in lifetime HPT winnings.
Three-handed, Raymer flopped a straight to eliminate Sushynina and entered heads-up with a 2-1 chip lead. Ryan Hickey, the other 21-year-old, went all-in preflop with pocket queens on the first hand and Raymer called with pocket kings to win to event and $121,973.
At press time, Raymer had won three of the past five HTP events and topped the player-of-the-year list. Only two have won an HPT more than once: Jeremy Dresch and Raymer with three wins each.
— Don Matusofsky is Ante Up’s Missouri Ambassador. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.