Heartland Poker Tour Kicks-off Season IV at the Grand Casino Mille Lacs

heartland poker tour28 Year Old Dusty Hamers

Wins First Place

Heartland Poker Tour’s fourth season got under way last week as players traveled from the four corners of the U.S. to play in the “real people” poker tour.  Grand Casino Mille Lacs, a regular HPT tour stop and located 90 miles north of Minneapolis,  was the host of 2008’s first HPT event.  In all, there were five no-limit events and over a 1400 entries for the week’s tournaments.

The main event got under way Sunday morning with 176 players, eager to be the first champion of 2008. All but 36 of those players were able to earn their $1650 seat through the HPT qualifying rounds on Thursday through Saturday.  At 1AM Monday morning, a champion was crowned when Dusty Hamers, a 28 year old machine operator from Waite Park, MN, watched a Ace hit the board, allowing his AQ to prevail over second place finisher Ray Bendijo’s pocket two’s.  Hamers, who is a self proclaimed “poker fanatic” took home the $74,642 first place prize (plus a $3000 champions package).

“I told everyone I know that I was going to win this thing” chuckled Hamers.  “I guess I had to do what I said.” heartland poker tour winnner

Hamers, who has a full time job at a wood craft company in St. Cloud MN, admits that his passion for poker begin when he was 8 years old.  His hobbies include “watching poker,” “reading about poker,” and “going on-line to study and read about poker.”  His passion paid off this week with his biggest cash to date.

“I definitely think I have the skills to be a pro poker player” said Hamers during his pre-final table interview.  “Right now, the only thing stopping me is bankroll.  Winning this tournament could put me in the right direction. “

Once again this week the Heartland Poker Tour lived up to its reputation as the only TV poker tour that caters to the smaller buy in, “regular” American poker player. Included on the final table was a contractor, a retail home improvement store manager, a plumber, and a former marine.

“We’re thrilled to get the new season under way and to have another diverse and interesting final table” said HPT co-founder Greg Lang. “I know we made a lot of new friends this week that we’ll be seeing down the road.  It’s going to be a great year.”

The Heartland Poker Tour will be back on the road March 2nd when the tour makes another stop to Meskwaki Casino in central Iowa.  In all, there are 16 total tour stops for the HPT in 2008 as far east as New York and as far west as Colorado.

2008 Event #1 – Gand Casino Mille Lacs – Onamia MN

689 – Players in the qualifiers

36 – Main Event Direct buys

176 – Players in the Main Event

Total Prize Pool $248,806

1st Place – Dustin “Dusty” Hamers, 28,   Waite Park MN

 2nd Place – Ray “Stingray” Bendijo, 50,   Ramsey MN

3rd Place – Brad Flanagan, 50, Brainerd MN

4th Place – Gabe Schultz, 23, Faribault MN

5th Place– Brian Midtling, 46, Brownton MN

6th Place – Justin Filtz, 20, Stevens Point WI
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