The second leg of the eleventh season of the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT), which was held at East Chicago’s Ameristar Casino Hotel, concluded recently. Its $1,650 buy-in main event, which attracted a field of 498 players and generated a $714,120 prize pool, lasted for three days. At the end, it was Mike Puccio, a landscape contractor from Illinois, who emerged as its champion and won the first-place prize of $164,249.

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The final table results are as follows. The champion Mike Puccio and the runner-up Bledar Shaholli of St. Clair Shores won $164,249 and $100,405, respectively. The players who finished third, fourth, and fifth were Joshua Turner of St. Louis, Shiva Dudani of Chicago, and Ben Castle of Illinois, who won $66,556, $46,275, and $34,635, respectively. The players who finished sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth were Arris Kontos of Baldwin, Nicholas LaFata of Springfield in Illinois, Yaroob Kaskorkis of Grand Rapids, and William Miner of Chicago, who won $26,780, $21,781, $17,853, and $14,282, respectively.

William Miner was the first player to bust while playing a Jack of Spades and an Eight of Clubs against Dudani’s Queen of Clubs and Queen of Spades. Miner got a Straight Draw on the flop, but couldn’t quite complete the hand because of the Five of Hearts that arrived on the turn and the Seven of Clubs that arrived on the river. He therefore had to leave the table in the ninth place.

Nicholas LaFata, who had qualified for the main event by winning a $375 buy-in satellite, and Yaroob Kaskoris, who had become an HPT finalist last month, were the next to bust with Arris Kontos following on their heels.

Ben Castle’s Ace of Hearts and Eight of Hearts lost to Josh Turner’s King of Clubs and Queen of Spades, owing to which he had to finish fifth. When Dudani’s pocket tens turned out to be no match for Turner’s jacks, he had to leave in the fourth position. Although Turner eliminated two finalists from the game, he was the next to leave because he bet all-in with a Six of Clubs and an Ace of Diamonds and lost to Shaholli’s King of Spades, Five of Hearts, and Eight of Spades.

With Turner gone, Shaholli was left playing heads-up against Puccio. Although Shaholli began the final table play as the chip leader, it was Puccio who had achieved the lead after three hours. Ultimately, Puccio emerged as the champion of the event.

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