The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) closed out its ninth season of record turnouts and full schedules on Monday at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with a Main Event that sported a prize pool of $678,120. Looking back at Season Nine for the HPT, nineteen players were crowned champions on national television. Ron Bell from Toledo, Ohio became the latest champ at the final event as the 57-year-old walked away with $159,353.
The Final Hand
For the final match up, Bell faced off against a Michigan native, Andrew Beardsley, in just nine hands of heads up play. Beardsley, of Swartz Creek, and Bell both put all their chips on the line pre-flop. On the flop a king spiked for Bell’s AK while Beardsley held Jack Ten off. But it wasn’t a complete loss for Beardsley as he took home $98,327, quite a step up from the $360 qualifier which gained him entry into the Main Event.
Other Worthy Returns
Beardsley wasn’t the only player who made a worthwhile investment. Another Michigan native, Ardesjor Azadnia from Okemos made it to fifth place with only a $180 satellite entry. Tonya Provost-Hawkins from White Lake, Michigan was eliminated in eighth place by Beardsley. Her 9To couldn’t hold up to his J9 offsuit. For her efforts, Provost-Hawkins took home a respectable $18,309.
Final Table Face Off
Though Bell came out on top in the end, it was his pocket queens that led him through tough opposition at the final table. Chuck Tonne had a commanding lead during final table and during a critical hand held A-K offsuit while Ben Grise held A-4 offsuit. Grise’s hand was outmatched and failed to improve, but went home with $44,756 for finishing in fourth place. Tonne doubled up on Bell and tried to regain footing with a bluff on the river. However, Bell rivered a full house and sent another Michigan native home as Tonne went back to Chesterfield with $64,421 and a third place spot.
Home Field Advantage
Players across the country attended final event but the results definitely showed an advantage for Michigan players. Seven of the final nine players at the Final Table hailed from the state. John Drikakis from Bama Creek finished in sixth with $25,769. William Rogers of Midland came in seventh with $22,310 while Dapreesch Scates of Sterling Heights finished in ninth with $14,919. Suffice it to say, everyone should have been able to buy quite a large Thanksgiving turkey.
Quest for Player of the Year
Victors from previous events across season nine convened on Michigan along with some bigger names. Pros like Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Greg “Fossilman” Raymer and Gavin Smith stopped by. Throughout the 2013 tour Kessler made himself a constant presence in the hope of becoming Player of the Year. Soaring Eagle Casino marked the end of Kessler’s journey as he took home the honor and six large cashes including four Final Tables from the season. Kessler became the first Heartland Poker Tour Player of the Year however who hasn’t won a championship. The honor nets him six complimentary Main Event buy-ins along with hotel accommodations during 2014.
Looking Forward to Season X
With Season IX in the books, the Hearland Poker Tour already has a few stops planned out for their tenth season. The first champion of the season will be crowned on December 9 after a bonus event at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana. A handful of 2014 dates have been announced including a televised kick-off on January 12 for HPT on the High Seas – a seven day cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.