Jeff captures HPT at Club One Casino; Graton opens

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Club One Casino and the Heartland Poker Tour joined forces to bring the popular and nationally televised series to Fresno, Calif. The seven-event series ran until Oct. 7 with the $1,650 buy-in main event as the star attraction.

When the dust settled at the final table, local contractor James Jeff of Fresno got heads-up with San Francisco chef Triet Nguyen in an epic heads-up match. After one of the longest heads-up fights in HPT history, Jeff’s pocket aces held against Nguyen’s pocket fives to take down the $85K first prize, an entry into the HPT championship and the title. Nguyen netted $52K as runner-up.

The HPT championship at Club One Casino attracted some notable big-name players such as 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer (11th, $7K), Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler (13th, $5K) and 2007 WSOP champion Jerry Yang, who was the first casualty at the televised final table, finishing ninth for $9K. Yang busted when his pair of eights fell to Q-10.

Yang still has incredible passion for the game.

“I have been working harder than I used to since winning the WSOP,” he said.

Other members of the final table included Lisa Jacobs from Merced, Calif., (eighth, $11K), WSOP Hall-of-Famer Barbara Enright from Los Angeles (seventh, $13K), Mimi Luu from San Jose (sixth, $16K), Mike Ball from Fresno (fifth, $19K) and Wendy Freedman from Las Vegas (fourth, $25K).

Yotam Shmuelov of San Francisco finished third for a respectable $35K. He also finished third at the HPT at Thunder Valley the week before. “I’m definitely running good in the HPT right now,” Shmuelov said.

GRATON OPENS: There’s a new casino in the bay area that’s attracting an array of new attention in the Northern California poker community. Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, Calif., is open for business and features an 18-table poker room. The $800M property also features 13 restaurants, 3,000 slot machines and 144 live-action table games.

Graton’s poker room features a bad-beat jackpot ($17K at press time) where the qualifying hand is decreased every two weeks (quad 10s at press time). They also have a royal-flush bonus that pays $500 (must use both hole cards).

Graton is in the process of figuring out its tournament schedule and should start to run some in the near future. The slogan is “43 minutes from Bay to play” so be sure and get your share of the money.

— Email Garrett Roth at roth@anteupmagazine.com.