Greg Raymer Captures Title At Heartland Poker Tour Stop In New Mexico
Having arguably one of its best seasons ever, the Heartland Poker Tour has been rolling along in 2012 and delivering some great poker to fans across the United States. Their most recent stop, which concluded yesterday at the Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque, NM, kept that performance up with former World Champion Greg Raymer taking down the championship of the event.
131 players showed up for what will be the 200th episode of the nationally syndicated tour, all vying for the $250,000 guaranteed prize pool that was up for grabs. Joining Raymer in the pursuit of the $71,875 first place prize were fellow pros Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler and Kathy Liebert, but they would face challenges from former HPT champions Craig Casino, John Sacha and Rob ‘veeRob’ Perelman. None of those players would make the money, but Raymer would prove dominant throughout the event.
Raymer came to the final table with the chip lead and proceeded to mow down his opponents in meticulous fashion. He would bring the tournament to heads up play after Scott Dougherty moved all in with an A-9. Raymer made the call with his A-Q and, after the board ran dry, Dougherty was out in third place and Raymer was facing Robert Crawford for the title.
Crawford, in his own right, was a nice story of the tournament and one that is familiar on the HPT circuit. After getting into the event on a satellite (and only spending $180), Crawford would battle valiantly before falling to the winner of the 2004 World Series of Poker Championship Event. For his efforts, Crawford would receive a nice ROI on his original $180, picking up the second place prize of $42,500.
This was the first time that Raymer, who has a particular fondness for HPT tournaments, had ever cashed in one of their events. “I just like the attitude and demeanor on HPT,” Raymer said following his victory. “Even if you knock someone out, they leave smiling.” Still, the competitive drive could be seen in the former World Champion as he added with a smile, “It feels so much better when you win.”
Always known as one of the most congenial ambassadors of the game of poker, Raymer received compliments from many of his final table opponents. Steven Carruthers, the first player eliminated at the final table, tried to bluff Raymer off a hand and was decimated by the result. “I made a big mistake that put me in a bad position,” Carruthers commented following his elimination.
Benjie Benavidez came to the table looking to mix it up with the 2004 WSOP champ but would fall short in his efforts in fourth. “My goal is to knock out Greg Raymer whether I win or not,” he stated as the tournament began. Although he didn’t achieve his goal, Benavidez still was happy with his performance, saying, “I came to play the HPT because it was the biggest tournament ever in New Mexico. I thought I’d try my luck.” For his efforts, Benavidez earned a nice $21,550 block of cash for his cattle ranching business.
With his win in this event, Raymer has now eclipsed the $7 million mark in career earnings, especially nice when you do it with a championship win:
1. Greg Raymer (Raleigh, NC), $71,875
2. Robert Crawford (El Paso, TX), $42,500
3. Scott Dougherty (Sioux Falls, SD), $26,875
4. Benjie Benavidez (Albuquerque, NM), $21,550
5. Allan Hedin (Evergreen, CO), $16,250
6. Steven Carruthers (Albuquerque, NM), $14,375
Perhaps the regulars on the HPT circuit should get used to notable pros “invading” their gatherings. Earlier this year, Will “The Thrill” Failla journeyed to the HPT stop in St. Louis and emerged with the title. Other pros, including Maria Ho, Tiffany Michelle, Annie Duke and many others have also battled it out with the HPT All-Stars.
With the completion of the Albuquerque tournament, the HPT will be taking a bit of a break before their next event. The 2012 HPT season will pick up in September with a stop in Black Hawk, CO, at the Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour from September 9-16 and will be back in St. Louis at the River City Casino and Lumiere Place Casino from September 21-30.
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