Monday, December 2, 2019

Pauly "Walnuts" Bianchi Wins HPT Championship for $181,874

Article by Brandon Temple of PokerNews:
Season XV of the Heartland Poker Tour came to a close at the Hollywood Casino St. Louis, as Paul "Walnuts" Bianchi topped a 353 player field to win the HPT $2,500 Championship Event and $181,874 in prize money.
"Feels great. Long time comin'." Bianchi, a Chicago native who runs a cafe, told HPT Tournament Director Jeremy Smith after his victory. Bianchi has over $300,000 in lifetime tournament earnings prior to today's victory, including a victory in last season's $500 Seniors Championship at the Season XIV finale. In fact, that prior victory was the whole reason Bianchi was in town for the weekend.
"That's what got me out here! I played the seniors, busted, I satellite in this, sailed through it." Bianchi's run through the main didn't go quite as smoothly as the satellite, however, as he was short-stacked for much of Day 2 play, starting the day with 41,600 in chips and hovering near the bottom of the counts all day long. "41,000 and went on for about six hours. Yesterday was a grind, a rough day. When you're short-stacked, you just play it like you see it. It was a long day."
Paul Bianchi infamously spun a $1,200 investment at the blackjack tables into a WSOP Main Event cash in 2014, but his plans for this windfall were much more reserved. "I'm gonna rest for a while, take some time off and do my thing. Relax."
With ten players returning and nine seats waiting for players at the nationally-televised final table, one player would have to bust before action would move to the main stage. Kevin Hopkins was the unfortunate bubble boy for the official final table when he ran his suited ace-seven into the aces of Paul Bianchi, setting the stage for the final table.
James Burns was unable to spin up his short stack, falling shortly after the final table commenced when his ace-queen ran into the ace-king of John Michalak. Two levels later, Canada's Bradley Smith lost a flip with pocket deuces to Hamid Izadi and his ace-seven to take eighth-place.
After Jason Darland busted a short time later in seventh, reigning HPT Season XIV Player of the Year Aaron Johnson got his last ten big blinds in preflop with king-nine, and ran into Michalak and his ace-king of clubs. Johnson, who finished sixth at the final table of the HPT Season XIV Championship, matched his run in this year's iteration of the event when he failed to find a nine.
Justin Coliny held the chip lead after Johnson's elimination, but two hands would spell the end of Coliny. First, Coliny attempted a big bluff against Bianchi, but Bianchi held trips and made the call to take half of Coliny's stack. A few hands later, Coliny made a flush on a double-paired board and committed his last twenty big blinds on the river, but Michalak held aces-full, leaving Coliny, who made his way into this tournament via satellite, walking out with a $40,327 payday for his efforts this weekend.
The start of the day chip leader, Hamid Izadi, sent a chunk of his stack over to Bianchi after Izadi paid off a big river bet from Bianchi. A few hands later, Izadi went for a bluff with eight-five on a jack-ace-eight-jack board, but Christopher Audrain made a call for his last fifteen blinds with ace-nine and left Izadi with just one-and-a-half big blinds, which he lost the next hand. The affable poker pro from Georgia earned $53,769 for his second HPT final table of the season.
The chip stacks between the final three players saw Michalak holding a slight lead over Bianchi, and Audrain was the short stack, but still held 35 big blinds to work with. The trio traded the chip lead back and forth between each other for a few hours, no one able to stretch a huge lead over the other two players. Finally in Level 29 (50,000/100,000/100,000), Audrain got his last 2.3 million in on a ten-high flop, and Michalak called with a combo draw and an overcard. Audrain's pair held, and Michalak went down to under twenty big blinds.
Michalak was able to hang on for a bit longer, before he three-bet shoved over a Bianchi button open with ace-nine. Bianchi had the goods with a pair of queens, however, and Michalak's fourth HPT final table run ended in third place, the Cleveland, Ohio native's best finish so far on tour.
Bianchi started heads-up play with a 2:1 chip lead over Audrain, and the duo's boisterous rails seemed primed for a lengthy battle. Just twenty minutes into Level 30 (60,000/120,000/120,000), Audrain's ace-nine of spades was bested by the ace-queen of Bianchi, but Audrain found two spades on the flop to give him eleven outs to continue the battle, as Bianchi held the queen of spades. The turn and river were both black, but neither were a spade, and Audrain had to settle for $115,129 as a consolation prize.
"Well, he flopped a monster," Bianchi said of his heads-up opponent. "I had one of his spades, he's got nines, he's got spades. But it didn't come, I faded it. I've been there before, he had a good run."
That does it for PokerNews's coverage of the HPT Season XV Championship. Congratulations to Paul Bianchi for the biggest win of his tournament career!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Cards in the Air for the $2500 Championship

You can follow tournament updates for this Main Event all weekend

The HPT $2,500 Championship Main Event is underway from @HollywoodSTL. This year-end event features a $700,000 guaranteed prize pool. There are three total starting flights, each one allowing late registration until the start of Level 9. All players who enter will receive a 30,000 starting stack and blinds are 60 minutes throughout.

This HPT Main Event is unique from all others in that it is a single re-entry event. Players are allowed to re-enter once per flight.

On top of the six-figure payday on the line this weekend, this is the last event to collect points for the Season XV Player of the Year title. At the moment, HPT regular Nick Pupillo has a significant lead on the field, but there are a few players who can catch up with an outright win. Click HERE to take a look at the standings.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

$2500 Championship Main Event in St. Louis

After a monumental season where Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) broke several records and awarded millions of dollars in prize pool money to poker enthusiasts nationwide, the popular poker tour and television show will cap off the year with a $2,500 Championship Main Event at Hollywood Casino & Hotel St. Louis this weekend.

Last weekend's opening $350 NLH event drew an impressive 912 total entries. That tournament ended in an 8-way ICM chop. The big numbers have continued all week and the tour looks to carry that momentum into this weekend's $700,000 guaranteed Main Event.

The Main Event offers three flights for that tournament, the first of which is Friday at noon. Each player who enters will receive a 30k starting stack and blinds are one hour in length from start to finish. Flight B is Saturday and the final flight is Sunday. Cards will be in the air at noon for all three flights with late registration open until the start of Level 9. Day 2 is Monday and the final 9 will play down to a winner on Tuesday.

When the reputable poker tour first visited Hollywood St.Louis earlier this year, players came out in droves. The opening tournament of that March series saw 1,292 total entries, setting a state record for largest poker tournament in Missouri history. The trend of large field sizes continued when HPT returned to St. Louis in the summer and drew a Main Event prize pool just shy of $700,000. Chicago’s Mike Shin took home the $160,632 top prize.

In addition to the large sums of money available throughout the series, there is also plenty of hardware at stake. The winner of Event #1 earned an oversized custom gold chain. The winning duo in the TagTeam tournament each took home a wrestling style belt. Classic trophies await the last player standing in the Seniors Championship and the Main Event.

Hollywood Casino St. Louis is a convenient 10 minute drive from the airport. The casino offers 120,000 square feet of gaming space with over 2,000 slot machines and nearly 100 table games. The 20-table non-smokingPoker Room is the largest in the market. Put in four hours of live play to receive a $15 food voucher.

Players traveling to St. Louis for the HPT event are being offered exclusive discounted room rates starting at $79 per night. There are a limited amount of rooms available at the discounted rate by phone at 314-770-8100. Mention HPT when you speak with a reservationist.

Lots of players will make their way to Hollywood St. Louis this weekend to take a shot at poker glory during the $2,500 HPT Championship Main Event. More details are available at

Monday, October 28, 2019


Eric Salazar held off the very-difficult-to-eliminate Michael Rosenberg heads-up to win the @HPTpoker $1,100 Main Event @DBKCandPR in Daytona Beach, FL.

Salazar earns $101,976 for the victory, including a $3,500 package to the Season XV HPT Championship next month at Hollywood St. Louis. Rosenberg, who doubled-up eight times at the final table, collects his biggest-ever tournament cash of $60,797 as runner-up.

One of the deepest HPT $1,100's ever - the blinds reached 125k/250k  - wrapped up after seven hours with Salazar taking the title. The pace-of-play was quite patient throughout the final table - and all of Day 2 as well here in Daytona Beach. The field was still 4-handed when the blinds reached the 100,000/200,000 w/200,000 ante level 32.

Ronnie Dowdy took third - he and Rosenberg doubled each other up as final table play took place. Dowdy earned $40,640, Martin Borras fell in fourth ($28,044) when his Kings did not hold. He was preceded to the rail by start-of-day chipleader Luke Graham (5th, $21,193) and Paul Chung (6th, $16,404).

Six-handed play went for almost 90-minutes, but the first three eliminations were quick, happening in the first 45 minutes of play, with Tom Nguyen in 7th ($13,701), Art Boatman in 8th ($11,346) and Mike Hernandez the first out today in 9th ($9,591)

Among the others who earned a Main Event cash was Mark Zullo (10th, $7,321), Stan Jablonski (14th, $5,523), Corey Zedo (19th, $3,425), Tony Miles (25th, $3,425), Maurice Hawkins (26th, $3,425) and Tom Wheaton (43rd, $2,355).

Here's the final results from the October 2019 HPT Main Event at Daytona Bech Racing and Card Club.

Oct. 2019HPTDaytona BeachMain Event
$431,650Prize Pool
45Places Paid
1st includes$3,500ChampionshipPackage

-- Dan Ross - Hold'em Media Live


Just 50BB total in play here with the blinds at 125,000/250,000 and a 250,000 ante, all the chips get in the middle with Eric Salazar ahead, his challenger Michael Rosenberg at risk at the @HPTpoker @DBKCandPR final table.
  • Rosenberg has Qs Ts
  • Another pair for Salazar, this time 3h 3c
The board runs out 5h 6d 8c 8h 3d and Rosenberg is eliminated in 2nd palce, earning $60,797.

Salazar wins the main event, the full recap coming in a few minutes.

Level - 33
Ante - 250k
Blinds - 125k/250k
Remain - 1/445

-- Dan Ross - Hold'em Media Live