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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Heartland Poker Tour Holding a Hot Hand

4 April 2007

The World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour are the established "big dogs" in tournament poker circles with high profile presence on cable television and the biggest name players shooting for multi-million dollar pots.

Poker, however, is a game that appeals to everyone, and sensing that even amateurs would relish the opportunity to play for high stakes, Todd Anderson and Greg Lang founded the Heartland Poker Tour two years ago.

Their objective was to devise a structure that would give average poker enthusiasts the chance to compete for six-figure pots and still keep the buy-ins affordable.

They obviously played their cards right. You could have seen for yourself the week of March 17 through 25 at the Majestic Star Casinos & Hotel in Gary, Indiana, where the Heartland Poker Tour's latest stop drew to a smashing conclusion.

A sell-out field of entries began qualifying with satellite competition at the Majestic Star on St. Patrick's Day. Competition kicked off in the showcase main event on Saturday, March 24. On Sunday, March 25, final table action began at noon and continued until a champion was crowned. The prize pool was expected to hit $500,000, the largest in HPT history.

As is the case with all final tables at Heartland Poker Tour tournaments, the event was taped for television for broadcast in two one-hour episodes at a later date with expert commentary by Chris Hanson, Fred Bevill and Katie O'Keefe. The Chicago outlet for HPT telecasts is Comcast SportsNet.

Dom Niro, the Majestic Star's poker room manager, first brought the Heartland Poker Tour to his casino in October of last year for a five-day tournament that attracted more than 700 players. It was the biggest event of the tour's 2006 season.

A Chicago-based pro, 26-year-old Joel Casper, was the last man sitting at the final table of the main event and collected first prize of $122,334.

HPT will be at the Majestic for two more tournaments this year, returning in the summer for a competition that'll run July 21 through 29, and again in December from the 1st through the 9th.

Although a majority of HPT tournaments are held at casinos in states in the Midwest, the group is broadening its exposure. In June a tournament is scheduled at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. Last January an event was held in Las Vegas at Hooters Casino Hotel.

The Heartland Poker Tour may never give the big dogs a run for their money, but if it solidifies the niche it has already established, strength in numbers from the people who love to play poker and crave the tournament spotlight will give it staying power with plenty of room to grow.

For more information visit www.heartlandpokertour.com, or call the poker room at the Majestic Star directly at 219-977-7444.

CASINO NEWS: A hot new community slot game that already has proved a big hit at casinos in Las Vegas has finally found its way to the Chicago area exclusively on the newly renovated Diamond Level of Horseshoe Casino Hammond.

IGT's Wheel of Fortune Special Edition Super Spin video slot occupies a commanding presence on the floor with a giant wheel surrounded by extra wide player stations which makes it possible for couples to enjoy a unique slot playing experience.

The multi-player feature is highlighted by the bonus game, eligibility for which requires that you have all 10 lines played and an equal side bet amount. Bonus-eligible players have a 10-second countdown to participate once another player presses the "spin" button. You have the option of participating, waiting for another spin, or until you have the wheel all to yourself.

Results vary for each player based on the amount of their wager and because each player station has its own wheel pointer. The Horseshoe's version is a five-reel, 10-payline, 75-credit nickel game. The maximum payout is $10,000.

The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin has crowned another big slot jackpot winner, this time a woman from Norridge, Illinois, who won $167,134 on a Five Times Pay progressive on March 15. Through the first two months of the year, the Grand Vic paid out $54.8 million in slot jackpots.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp