By Garrett Roth
The Heartland Poker Tour teamed with Thunder Valley for the first time (Sept. 20-29). The series had a variety of events, capped by the $1,650 main event, which drew 542 entries.
The three-day main event received attention from all over the poker community, including Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, World Series of Poker commentator Lon McEachern and 2013 November Niner J.C. Tran, all of whom exited without cashing.
After 171 hands and 10 hours of play at the televised final table, Michael Rosenbach from Berkeley, Calif., emerged victorious. The New Jersey native won $180K by defeating Mel Weiner (Calabasas, Calif.) who took home $110K for second.
“Thunder Valley has been great,” Rosenbach said. “I’m looking forward to playing more.”
Weiner is a real estate investor who plays tournaments on the side. He was fresh off a third-place finish at Commerce Casino’s HPT main event where he took home $75K the week before.
This is Rosenbach’s first HPT title but he is no stranger to winning as the Bay Area pro owns three WSOPC rings, his most recent at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, Calif. ($22K).
The rest of the final table included Yotam Schmuelov of San Francisco (third, $73K), William Chao of El Sobrante, Calif. (fourth, $51K), Kevin O’Donnell of Scottsdale, Ariz., (fifth, $38K), Lori Bare of Santa Cruz, Calif. (sixth, $29K), Kirby Nunn of Cutten, Calif. (seventh, $24K), Joe Fernandez of Turlock, Calif. (eighth, $19K) and Andrew Higgins of Sacramento (ninth, $15K).
Thunder Valley and the HPT partner again Jan. 17-26.