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Monday, January 15, 2018

Darryl Ronconi - @HPTPoker @AmeristarEC Champion- $175,482

The January 2018 HPT Main Event Final Table at Ameristar East Chicago belonged to Darryl Ronconi.

Not only did he eliminate four of his eight challengers, he doubled up players seven different times.

How's that for being involved in practically everything at the final table.

Ronconi finished off the event by finishing off his final three challengers.

He knocked out Ramie Lantz in 4th ($49,356), Jim Kaputis in 3rd place ($71,045) and then eliminated Ryan Kulovits heads-up to earn the $175,482 top prize.

Ryan Kulovitz - 2nd Place - $108,401

Down 6-1 in chips, Ryan Kulovitz moves all in over a raise from Darryl Ronconi. Kulovitz had King_Ten and Ronconi could not find a call with Seven_Three.

Two hands later it is almost an identical situation, King_Queen and Six_Four the raise, shove, fold hands.

No Action for Ryan with pocket Kings the next hand, but one hand later it is King_Eight for Ryan and he flops two pair on the 4-8-4 flop.

Darryl, however, has Ace_Four and he flops trips.

The chips go in the middle on the turn 5and Darryl snap-calls.

River ... Ten ... Kulovitz finishes as the runner-up, collecting $108,401.

Heads-Up for @HPTPoker @AmeristarEC Title

Darryl Ronconi (above) and Ryan Kulovitz (below) are now heads-up, the final two players in the 544-entry HPT Main Event at Ameristar East Chicago. The winner today receives $175,482, plus the Citizen Eco-Drive Watch, with the runner-up earning $108,401. We can guarantee for certain this is the first 6-figure cash for Kulovitz, for it is his first-ever tournament cash of any type. Ronconi has 12,000,000 to 4,700,000 for Kulovitz.

Antes - 15k
Blinds - 30k/60k
Remaining - 2/544

Jim Kasputis - 3rd Place - $71,045

Their kickers are the same, so while he's all in for his tournament life on the turn, Jim Kasputis is in quite the tough spot with his King_Nine against the Queen_Nine of Darryl Ronconi.

The J-T-8 flop gave Ronconi a straight and Kasputis needs a Queen for a better straight  to avoid elimination in this HPT Main Event.

Kasputis finishes in 3rd place, earning $71,045 for his multi-day performance, as the river misses his draw.

Entries - 2/544

Double and Out

Ramie Lantz gets a BIG double when his pocket_Tens hold against the Ace_Queen of Darryl Ronconi for a nice Birthday Gift.

Yep, it is Lantz' birthday.

The celebration doesn't last long, however, as the two players clash an orbit or so later, pocket_Tens again for Lantz and his chip go in the middle on the turn, but Ronconi turned a straight and Lantz is out in 4th place, cashing for $49,365

Entries - 3/544

Ossama Estafanous - 5th Place - $35,874.

Pocket Eights for Ossama Estafanous - all in for his tournament life and well behind the pocket Kings of Darryl Ronconi.

The eights do not improve and Estafanous is eliminated in 5th place, cashing for $35,874, Ronconi continuing to chip up.

Entries - 4/544

Shawn Roberts - 6th Place - $27,841

Reginald 'Shawn' Roberts in the 2014 @HPTPoker Player of the Year and 2nd on the All-Time HPT Money List with more than $500,000 in HPT Main Event earnings.

Roberts just ran Ace_Queen in to pocket Jacks when neither of his overcards could connect.

Remaining - 5/544

Isaiah Porter - 7th Place - $23,396

The chips ran out for Isaiah Porter in 7th place today, a $23,396 cash in the @HPHPoker $1650 Main Event at @AmeristarEC. Porter's Ace_Three with just a few BB ran in to the Ace_Eight of Ramie Lantz.

An orbit or so earlier, it was Shawn Roberts with pocket Aces doubling through the King_Jack of Ossama Estafanous

Entries - 6/554

Steve Clark - 8th Place - $19,497

Steve Clark is al in preflop with Pocket_Nines, looking to double up and has to like where he's at against the Jack_Nine of Darryl Ronconi.

Well, that's until there's not just one, but two Jacks on the flop.

The board runs out Q-T-6 from there and Clark is eliminated in 8th place, cashing for $19,497

Antes - 10k
Blinds - 40k/80k
Entries - 7/455

Double for Kasputis

Shawn Roberts opens, Jim Kasputis (above) moves all in preflop and Roberts calls to put at risk for his tournament life at the @HPTPoker @AmeristarEC final table.

Roberts has Pocket_Nines
Kasputis has Pocket_Tens.

The board blanks and their stacks flip, moving to 1.8 million and Roberts is down to 900,000

Entries - 8/554

Brian Thomas- 9th Place - $15,597

All in preflop for his tournament life with pocket_Eights, Brian Thomas is called by the Ace_Queen of Ramie Lantz at the final table of @HPTPoker's $1650 at @AmeristarEC.

Thomas is good on the flop, but there's a Queen on the turn and Thomas cannot find a set on the river.

Brian earns $15,597 for his 9th-place finish.

Remaining - 8/554


Boulos Estafanous opened for 105,000 from the lojack.  Short stack Sandeep Sikand moved all in for his last 350,000 from the small blind.  Everyone folded and Boulos made the call, showing 33.  Sikand had KhQs.  A Woolworth's special 5TT flop put Sikand in grave danger.  No paint on the turn, no paint on the river, and Sikand stood in disappointment.  Ironically, this is the second straight @HPTPoker Main Event here at @AmeristarEC where Estafanous recorded the last elimination for the TV Table.

Your chip counts as we begin play at high noon (local time) tomorrow are as follows:

Seat 1 - Boulos Estafanous    1,420,000
Seat 2 - Steven Clark             1,005,000
Seat 3 - Darryl Ronconi         3,150,000      
Seat 4 - Jim Kasputis             1,260,000  
Seat 5 - Raymond Lantz        2,610,000
Seat 6 - Aaron Isaiah Porter  2,465,000       
Seat 7 - Ryan Kulovitz          1,260,000
Seat 8 - Shawn Roberts         1,160,000
Seat 9 - Brian Thomas           1,800,000

Follow more updates here and watch the live stream on Twitch TV.  There will be a banner link on the website at

Level - 26, 14:00 left
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K
Entries - 9/544

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Final Table Seats & Chips

Seat 1 - Boulos Estafanous 1.805M
Seat 2 - Steve Clark 1.8M
Seat 3 - Darryl Ronconi 1.885M
Seat 4 - Jim Kasputis 1.3M
Seat 5 - Sandeep Sikand 735K
Seat 6 - Raymond "Birthday Boy" Lantz 2.4M
Seat 7 - Aaron Porter 2.175M
Seat 8 - Ryan Kulovitz 1.445M
Seat 9 - Shawn Roberts 1.1M
Seat 10 - Brian Thomas 1.585M

Level - 26
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K
Entries - 10/544

Maximum Pain

Ben Grise had been among the chip leaders for the first half of the day, but self-admittedly "played like $%!&" the second half.  He found himself on the short stack coming back from this break and after Brian Thomas raised on the button, Grise put his last 355K in from the small blind.  Thomas shrugged his shoulders and made the call and was behind with the QJ against Grise's AK.  Flop 3-5-9.  Yawn.  Turn 9.  Yawn.  River... J.  Ugh.  "Maximum pain... 13 hours of play and not even a final table," a forlorn Grise stated.  We've reached our final table, but we need one more elimination for TV.

Level - 26
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K
Entries - 10/544

1 for 1 on his birthday

During the last break, the clock struck midnight and Raymond Lantz turned 39 years old.  His first hand on his birthday, he decided to shove 30 bigs with 99.  Chip leader Steven Clark made the call with AcKc.  The 10-high flop was pretty tame, but a jack on the turn gave Clark some more outs.  The river had Lantz breathing a sigh of relief as he scored a major double-up and now he becomes the chip leader. 

Happy Birthday, indeed.

Level - 26
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K
Entries - 11/544

Can You Hear Me Now?

We have a lot of bars, so hopefully you will appreciate these chip counts that are unofficially brought to you by the fine folks at Raiser Clothing.  They're an HPT sponsor and your boy's trying for the hookup for some extra cash.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Table 2
Aaron Porter 2.375M
Birthday Boy Raymond Lantz 1.205M
Jim Kasputis 1.055M
Shawn Roberts 1.47M
Steven Clark 2.685M

Table 7
Ryan Kulovitz 1.76M
Darryl Ronconi 1.37M
Sandeep Sikand 1.06M
Boulos Estafanous 1.545M
Brian Thomas 1.26M
Ben Grise 445K

Level - 26
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K
Entries - 11/544

With the table 6-handed, Jim Kasputis (left) opened from under the gun for 65,000.  Steven Clark called from the cutoff, and then Cary Bone (sunglasses) moved all in for his last 96,000 after being crippled on the previous hand.  Once informed he couldn't reopen the pot, Kasputis called and Clark followed suit.  The flop came K95 flop and Kasputis started a side pot with a bet of 75,000.  Clark mucked two 7's face-up saying he was set-mining.  Bone had a bad feeling his AJ was in trouble and he was right as Kasputis revealed AK.  Jack on the turn.  Oh, no, Seth the Dealer... you wouldn't dare... PAINT!  But it was a queen.  Kasputis let out a small sigh and Bone became the final table double bubble.  Less than 10 minutes later, the players went to what will likely be the final break of the evening.  Just two more eliminations and we reach the TV table.

Level - 25 completed
Antes - 5K
Blinds - 20K/40K when we resume
Entries - 11/544

Smiles & Sighs

I'd have to imagine Dennis Stevermer's bummed he's not going to make the final table.  He was short-stacked most of the second-half of the day and finally ran into a wall on a 4A5K board.  He raised on all-in on Aaron Porter with AJ, but Porter had AQ.  The river 9 sent Stevermer home, but the St. Paul, MN man will no doubt be spending a couple hundred bucks of the $8,968 he won today on a Stefon Diggs jersey.  Porter joined Steven Clark in the 2 million chip club with this pot.

Also hitting the rail was Mike Schlegel who had also been mostly short-stacked since dinner.  His AK ran into, of course, the AA of Ryan Kulovitz, who became the 3rd member of the 2 million chip club.  Kulovitz has sneakily built up his stack since making that "big lay down" to Ben Grise before dinner.  

Level - 25
Antes - 4K
Blinds - 15K/30K
Entries - 12/544

Just One More Thing...

With his crushing of Mike Reci in set over set fashion, Steven Clark became the first player to amass over 2 million chips.  He has 1/6 of the 16.32 million chips in play.

Level - 25
Antes - 4K
Blinds - 15K/30K
Entries - 14/544

Aces, Aces, Everywhere


Right after the blinds were raised, Shawn Roberts limped under the gun.  Around to the button, Mike Reci jammed all-in for 350K.  In the big blind was short-stacked Jason Mangold and he decided to put his 131K in the middle.  Roberts asked for a count of both stacks and decided he could afford a call with over a million chips.  Unfortunately for him, his red AJs matched the other red AJs of Mangold.  Reci suddenly looked real good with his pocket fives.  Then two diamonds came on the flop.  Then a 5 hit the turn, but it was a heart and now both Mangold and Roberts had flush draws and Reci was nervous.  A black queen eliminated the nerves and Mangold was eliminated by Reci's set.

His good fortune was short-lived.  Now close to a million chips, Reci got it all in again, this time with Steven Clark on the turn.  The board was king-high with 3 diamonds and Clark was put to the test.  He lamented, "I was trying to slow play this," and half-begrudgingly made the call.  Clark's pocket aces were behind Reci's flopped set of kings.  But Steven had the ace of diamonds.  With the whole table thinking flush, everyone forgot about the ace of hearts... which is what hit the river.  Mike initially thought he'd won for a moment until another player pointed out Clark's higher set.  Reci was stunned with his bustout. 

Also eliminated was short stacked Kyle Julius who ran his pocket 6's into, you guessed it, the pocket aces of Darryl Ronconi.  Rockets haven't been very prevalent at all today until we reached the final 2 tables.  They've come up no fewer than 8 times since.

Level - 25
Antes - 4K
Blinds - 15K/30K
Entries - 14/544

Blogger Mangles Mangold And Then Others Get In On The Act

I don't know who Jeff Mangold is.  I thought he might've been the Jets center, but that's Nick Mangold.  I do know that Jason Mangold is the guy who's been steamrolling his way to a possible final table appearance.  However, after I was dutifully called on my buffoonery, Dennis Stevermer decided to get in on the fun, 3-betting his short stack all-in against Mangold  This time, it was Jason on the short end of AQ vs. AA.  He got one queen on the flop, but not a second and Stevermer doubled up. 

A couple hands later Mangold was took a queen-high all-spade flop with Aaron Porter.  Porter check-raised and Mangold jammed for almost 800K.  Porter snapped with AA and the ace of spades.  Mangold's kicker with his top pair on board was the king of spades.  Yuck.  The turn brought the four-flush and the lock for Porter.  Jason lost over 80% of his stack in those two hands.  Porter was all smiles afterwards as he collected over 1.7 million in chips. 

My apologies to the Mangold family for unwittingly jinxing your representative. #BadBlogger

Level - 24
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 12K/24K
Entries - 17/544

And Then There Were Two...

This is how the field looks as we come back from break.

Table 2
Seat 1 Empty
Seat 2 Empty
Seat 3 Raymond Lantz 650K
Seat 4 Empty
Seat 5 Jason Mangold 1.011M
Seat 6 Shawn Roberts 740K
Seat 7 Steven Clark 1.232M
Seat 8 Dennis Stevermer 313K
Seat 9 Matthew Buczkiewicz 638K

Table 3
Seat 1 Mike Reci 366K
Seat 2 Raj Dhanekula 1M
Seat 3 Ryan Kulovitz 1.532M
Seat 4 Empty
Seat 5 Cary Bone 519K
Seat 6 Mike Schlegel 560K
Seat 7 Empty
Seat 8 Brian Thomas 465K
Seat 9 Aaron Porter 973K

Table 7
Seat 1 Jim Kasputis 1.733M
Seat 2 Empty
Seat 3 Empty
Seat 4 Darryl Ronconi 1.347M
Seat 5 Sandeep Sikand 603K
Seat 6 Boulos Estafanous 1.498M
Seat 7 Empty
Seat 8 Ben Grise 835K
Seat 9 Kyle Julius 303K

And just as we finished typing this, Shawn Roberts's overpair (QQ) knocked out Matthew Buczkiewicz's 2nd pair with open-ender.  Roberts jammed on the flop and Buczkiewicz called and couldn't catch up.  We're now down to 18 players.

Level - 24
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 12K/24K
Entries - 19/544

Unlucky Sevens


Steven Clark raised from the shotgun to 50,000 and Brad Siegel called out of the small blind.  The all red 2-3-2 flop saw Siegel check-raise Clark.  Brad pushed Steven's bet of 60K up to 160K and Steven thought took a pause before seeing another card.  The Th added a flush to the board and Siegel shoved for 415,000.  Clark stood up and said, "Now it's my turn to tank."  After about 30 seconds he decided to dance and his pocket queens had Siegel's pocket sevens crushed.  Clark even had the Qh.  The river was a blank and Siegel brought us to the double table bubble with his 20th place finish.

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 19/544

Two More Knockouts

Zackary Estes was the short stack heading to the final 3 tables and managed to survive a few more eliminations, but couldn't get to the next pay jump.  And the Radcliffe family story came to an end with Matthew's elimination.  Starting 108th out of 113th today, Matt has to be pleased he was able to fight all the way up to 21st. 

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 20/544

Most Boring Dinner Break Ever

Dennis Stevermer was on just another dinner break from a poker tournament.  And then this happened...

He's been at least half-smiling ever since.

(video courtesy of FOX Sports/NFL)

Level - 20
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 20/544

Bad Timing

John Sun was thrilled to get an ace on the button.  With everyone folding to him?  Easy short stack jam.  But Sandeep Sikand woke up with AK in the big blind.  Sun's AJ suddenly looked mighty small, and looked even smaller when a king flopped.  Sun was eliminated in 23rd place.

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 22/544

Son Of A...

Ron Bell and Brian Thomas got it all-in pre-flop with Bell's AK looking to knock out Thomas's KJ.  The T96 flop gave Thomas some additional outs which he got with a Q on the turn.  The redraw did not come for Bell and he was left with less than 2 BB's after the shot to the gut.  He was eliminated moments later in 24th place.

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 23/544

Franciosi's Kicker Probelms

We pick up action on the turn of an 8Q57 board with 400K already in the MIDDLE.  John Franciosi (right) leads at the pot for 150,000.  Jim Kasputis made the call.  A Kd on the river seemed to make little difference and with just over 300K left, Franciosi decided it was worth it to put everything else in.  Kasputis made a quick call as he'd rivered top 2 pair.  Turns out he didn't need it as he was already crushing Franciosi's QJ.  John, who'd been a force all day hit the rail in 25th place. 

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 24/544

One Stays In, One Drops Out

Mike Reci didn't seem too happy when Sandeep Sikand check-called his 30K turn bet on an AK2Q board.  He seemed further upset to have to put his last 115K in the middle when the 8 came on the river.  Reci said, "Good luck, boys," as Sikand gave counted out the chips and gave it it about a-half-minute before making the call.  Reci's demeanor turned rosy as he turned over JT for the nuts.  Sikand's KJ went to the muck as he succumbed to the double-up.


Meanwhile, our second elimination took place Tracy Sibson's short stack dance was ended by Ben Grise's pocket queens.  Sibson managed to parlay a stack of under 50K when we hit the money into a 26th place finish, nearly doubling his payday.  The levels have just gone up once again as we step deeper into that high cotton.

Level - 23
Antes - 3K
Blinds - 10K/20K
Entries - 25/544

Sun & Estafanous Go Back & Forth

John Sun lost over half his stack to Boulos Estafanous moments ago when Estafanous milked the nut flush he'd flopped.  Now Sun's put his last 117,000 in the middle thinking he needed to get lucky.  He wasn't as bad off as he thought with his QJo against Estafanous's 44.  He was a lot less bad off when the flop came QQK.  Two 6's completed the board and gave John a full house and a small measure of revenge.  Despite the hit, Boulos is the 3rd member of the 1 million chip club at present. 

Level - 22
Antes - 2K
Blinds - 8K/16K
Entries - 26


This is how the field looks for the final 3 tables.

Table 2
Seat 1 Sandeep Sikand 338K
Seat 2 Mike Reci 378K
Seat 3 Raymond Lantz 236K
Seat 4 Brad Siegel 674K
Seat 5 Jason Mangold 948K
Seat 6 Shawn Roberts 1.1M
Seat 7 Steven Clark 620K
Seat 8 Dennis Stevermer 262K
Seat 9 Matthew Buczkiewicz 763K

Table 3
Seat 1 Matt Radcliffe 745K
Seat 2 Raj Dhanekula 956K
Seat 3 Ryan Kulovitz 791K
Seat 4 Ron Bell 450K
Seat 5 Cary Bone 733K
Seat 6 Mike Schlegel 375K
Seat 7 Darryl Ronconi 1.073M
Seat 8 Brian Thomas 277K
Seat 9 Aaron Porter 674K

Table 7
Seat 1 Jim Kasputis 612K
Seat 2 John Franciosi 752K
Seat 3 John Sun 281K
Seat 4 Jay Goldenberg 169K
Seat 5 Tracy Sibson 202K
Seat 6 Boulos Estafanous 991K
Seat 7 Zackary Estes 116K
Seat 8 Ben Grise 1.165M
Seat 9 Kyle Julius 720K

The first man to go down moments ago was the second-short stack, Jay Goldenberg.  We now stand at 26 players.

Level - 22
Antes - 2K
Blinds - 8K/16
Entries - 26/544

Another Pay Jump

On a board of TT6, David Kenniston pushed his last 251,000 into the pot.  Kyle Julius weight his options and decided to call.  Kenniston's A6 was behind Julius's 77 and the board ran out blanks for Kenniston, who remained steady for most of the day, but couldn't chip up at the end.  This brought us to the redraw for the final three tables of the night.

Level -22
Antes - 2K
Blinds - 8K/16
Entries - 27/544