Some Changes In 2013 For The Heartland Poker Tour
After arguably one of their best seasons of poker in their history, the Heartland Poker Tour isn’t sitting back on their laurels as they head into 2013. As they prepare to embark on their Season Nine schedule, the HPT is unveiling a host of changes that should only make one of the premiere “minor league” circuits seem more like the majors!
First off, the HPT has overhauled their Main Event blind structure, enlisting none other than Daniel Negreanu in the effort. Although the HPT has adjusted their structure several times over their history, their last such revision came in 2011 from poker professional Annie Duke. In looking to make the changes for this season, HPT Executive Producer Fred Bevill stated, “We wanted the best possible structure, so we went to the best.”
Negreanu had to take many things about the HPT into consideration in creating the new structure. The goal of an HPT tournament is that it can be played out over a weekend (as many of their participants have actual jobs), so Negreanu attacked that first. “I noticed a few crucial jumps that needed to be ironed out,” he noted, “and the ante structure was a bit off, so that was adjusted as well.”
In making these adjustments to the structure, Negreanu also had to take into consideration another of the new changes for 2013 on the HPT. Beginning this season, the HPT will feature nine-handed final tables (in the past, the HPT went with a six-handed format). With this in mind – as well as attempting to give the players the maximum value for their buy ins – those players who make Day Two of HPT tournaments will find fifty minute levels through Level 24 and hour long levels after that through the final table (on Day One, the levels will last 40 minutes).
Negreanu seemed pleased with his work on the HPT structure. “I was very happy to help out when I was approached by the HPT to take a look at the structure,” Negreanu said. “I think the final result is a smoother structure with more play.”
Another big change for the HPT will be in their televised product. Syndicated nationwide to over 100 million U. S. households and plans for international syndication beginning this year, the broadcast team will undergo a changeover. After a long association with the HPT, Chris Hanson will leave the broadcast booth and Bevill will be joined by a historic first. Poker professional Maria Ho will join the HPT for their broadcasts, making Ho the first ever female poker commentator on television.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the HPT family,” Maria said during the announcement of her teaming with Bevill. “As a player, I am flattered they are welcoming my expertise. As a woman, I am grateful to the HPT for being the first poker show to offer the strategist position to a female. I look forward to bringing a new and fresh perspective to HPT broadcasts.”
The new changes will get their first “test under fire” next week as the HPT begins their Season Nine schedule. On January 19, the “HPT on the High Seas” will set sail from Fort Lauderdale, FL, for its first event of 2013, an $1100 Main Event aboard the MSC Poesia. The tournament, hosted by CardPlayer Cruises, will feature many amenities for the participants outside of the Main Event, including special parties, seminars and stops at such exotic locales as the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Jamaica and Mexico. (If interested in booking for the tournament – if there’s still room available – call 888-999-4880 and use the code “HPT” or visit the HPT website, hptpoker.com).
Following sailing around the Caribbean, the HPT will take a bit of a break before their second event of 2013 at the Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, CO. From March 1-10, the HPT will be in the Rocky Mountains for what has proven to be one of their most popular stops. The HPT will also return to the River City Casino in St. Louis, MO and the host of last year’s HPT Championship Open, the Belterra Casino Resort in Florence, IN, before the end of April. (A full schedule has yet to be finalized.)
The HPT saw one of its most exciting seasons in 2012 as former World Champion Greg Raymer went on a run for the ages on the tour. Winning four tournaments to easily capture the HPT Player of the Year race, Raymer – who has consistently expressed his enjoyment about playing on the HPT – brought a great deal of attention to the circuit. The St. Louis tournament was taken down by fellow pro Will “The Thrill” Failla and many other top professionals journeyed across the United States to take part in HPT events alongside the “Everyday Joes.”
With their changes for 2013, the HPT promises to become even more exciting in the coming year as they continue to welcome the amateurs looking to move to the “next level” as well as those professionals who dip their toes into the treacherous HPT waters.
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