Puccio fights nerves, wins HPT Ameristar

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Mike Puccio, a landscaper from Deerfield, Ill., won the Heartland Poker Tour’s main event at Ameristar East Chicago, earning $164K and he said his first nationally televised final table was a nerve-racking experience.

“I’ve been excited and nervous for the last two days,” he said afterward. “I haven’t been able to close my eyes.”

It was the first cash for four players at the final table, including runner-up Bledar Shaholli ($100K). HPT veteran Ben Castle made his third final table, finishing fifth. The real estate developer from Hinsdale has 12 cashes for a career total of $173K.

James Casement from Pingree Grove, Ill., won $40K in the $300 opener, which had a record 783 entries and a $200K prize pool. HPT returns to Chicagoland on April 30-May 10.

In other news, two-time HPT winner Aaron Massey was 2014’s HPT Player of the Year. Third all-time in HPT earnings, Massey is one of Chicagoland’s best tournament players with 11 career wins and 88 cashes totaling more than $2M.

SEMINAR: Greg “Fossilman” Raymer will host a training seminar Feb. 16 at the Wyndham Gardens Hotel in Schaumburg, Ill. The full-day $300 course designed to improve your game will feature a three-hour lecture followed by four hours of live lab. Class size is limited to 40 so sign up soon.

“This is an exceptional value with Raymer being one of the best instructors in the country,” said Jim Kasputis Sr. of Rockford Charitable Games. To reserve a spot or for more information, call Kasputis at 815-914-7529. Participants will be eligible to play in a RCG freeroll, which has a $1K guarantee after the seminar.

RCG is running $6-$12 limit Omaha/8 on Mondays and Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. These games typically run all day. For information, call 847-293-7941 or text Omaha to 88202.

CHARANIA WINS: Mohsin Charania captured the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio in Las Vegas, winning $1.4 million. The Des Plaines native started playing online while studying finance at the University of Illinois and has earned more than $3.5 million online.

HOLLYWOOD AURORA: Robert Merrell won the Tournament of Champions on Dec. 21. This unique tournament has winners and runners-up play in a yearly event. Wednesday’s tournament remains Chicagoland’s longest running.

MAJESTIC STAR: WPT DeepStacks will make its first visit to Chicagoland on July 23-Aug. 2. The main event starts July 28.

WCPL: David Wexler won the inaugural Windy City Poker League’s championship on Dec. 5 at Jenny’s Steakhouse and Pub in Mokena. WCPL will run a spring and fall league. For more details, go to facebook.com/chicagopokerleagu e.

— Email “Chicago” Joe at chicago.joe@comcast.net.