HPT, WSOPC collide in Black Hawk

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Along with the gorgeous weather of spring — a season that took its sweet time arriving this year — it’s finally a little quieter in the poker rooms of Black Hawk. It could only be quieter after a pair of huge events in March had this tiny mountain town packed with pros, semipros and amateurs of every stripe.
As we reported last issue, the Heartland Poker Tour attracted a typically strong turnout despite a blizzard shutting down the few roads into town on the final qualifying day for its no-limit hold’em main event at Golden Gates. Once that event wrapped March 11, many players stuck around for the inaugural World Series of Poker Circuit event at the Lodge, which ran March 14–25.

In the HPT main event, Teresa Hemingway outlasted 670 competitors to become the third female champion in the event’s history. A sales executive from the Denver suburb of Aurora, Hemingway raked in $226,463 for the win, coming in through a $360 qualifier and making the most of it. Look for an interview with Hemingway about her big win next month.

Jeffrey Yarchever of Laguna Beach, Calif., finished second ($139,904), but the rest of the top five were Coloradans: Robert Moore (Littleton, $91,692), Bob Sweeney (Denver, $63,711) and Ryan O’Donnell (Steamboat Springs, $46,299).

Despite the massive winter storm, which dumped more than a foot of snow on the area and temporarily shut down Denver International Airport, the HPT built a prize pool for the main event of more than a million dollars. While the field of 670 was down from last year’s two HPT events at Golden Gates (820 in April and 739 in September), it’s certainly impressive given the circumstances.

Over at the Lodge, the casino’s first WSOPC was a success. All events had a great turnout, with the main event attracting 421 players for a pool of $631,500.

Jonathan Taylor, a poker pro from Alabama, earned his third WSOPC ring this season by taking down the main event. Taylor earned $138,938 for the win, a healthy improvement over his paydays for earlier wins in a pair of $365 events ($12,434 at IP Biloxi and $16,201 at Horseshoe Bossier City). Two Coloradans finished in the top five: Allan Hedin of Evergreen (third, $62,733) and Jerry Johnson of Aurora, (fourth, $46,579).

With a $365 buy-in (compared to $1,675 for the main event), the WSOPC hold’em re-entry event drew 516 entrants for a $154,800 pool. The winner was Mitch Schock, a pro out of North Dakota, who earned $33,284, while a Colorado player was the runner-up: Aaron Gardner from nearby Westminster, who earned $20,578 for his first WSOPC cash. Richard Marti of Denver was fifth ($8,381).

— Rick Gershman is Ante Up’s Colorado Ambassador. You can email him atrickgershman@gmail.com.

WSOP Circuit, The Lodge, Black Hawk, Colo., March 14-26

Event 1 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 301 • Pool: $90,300
Bryan Campanello, $21,223
Event 2 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 272 • Pool: $81,600
Jonathan Alfonso, $19,586
Event 3 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 516 • Pool: $154,800
Mitch Schock, $33,284
Event 4 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 219 • Pool: $65,700
Ryan Lenaghan, $16,426
Event 5 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 188 • Pool: $56,400
Chris Parsons, $14,661
Event 6 • $365 Omaha/8
Entries: 148 • Pool: $44,400
Eric Varnado, $12,434
Event 7 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 196 • Pool: $58,800
Jason Tulloss, $15,289
Event 8 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 215 • Pool: $64,500
Ray Henson, $16,128
Event 9 • $580 NLHE
Entries: 187 • Pool: $93,500
Michael Sanders, $24,312
$1,675 Main Event
Entries: 421 • Pool: $631,500
Jonathan Taylor, $138,938
Event 11 • $580 NLHE
Entries: 149 • Pool: $74,500
Allen Kessler, $20,859
Event 12 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 145 • Pool: $43,500
Steven Cohen, $12,181