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Four action-packed starting flights helped attract 570 runners to the Heartland Poker Tour Ameristar East Chicago $1,650 Main Event, and when all was done and dusted, it was Michigan’s Chris Moon (cover image) proudly holding the trophy and posing for the winner pictures. He took home $183,899 for the win.
The event had a stacked final table replete with big names like Craig Casino, but Moon came in with a monster chip lead that he rode all the way to the title. Casino finished fourth, as Moon played Artem Zverkhovskyy heads-up for the title. Defeating the latter, Moon picked up his first-ever live tournament title along with his career-best score. With the trophy by his side, the latest HPT champion held out a big placard with “Hi Mom!” written on it. In addition to the title, he also won a $3,500 HPT Championship package.
“I’ve been trying to win a live tournament since I was like 18 years old. So, this is a dream come true, truly,” said Moon after the win. He had in 2015, made it to the final table of the HPT Mount Pleasant $1,650 Main Event in Michigan but missed out on the title with a runner-up place finish for $101,823 as a consolation prize. At the HPT Chicago Main Event in 2017, he won $18,846 for his eighth place finish.
From a prize pool of $820,800, the top 63 places earned a min-cash worth $2,942. Making it in the money were prominents like Taylor Firebaugh (12th for $12,586), Kalpesh Shah (14th for $9,399), Nick Pupillo (16th for $7,192), Alex Ziskin (19th for $5,394), Rich Alsup (22nd for $5,394), Aaron Johnson (32nd for $4,495), and Blake Whittington (60th for $2,942).
Day 2 began with 96 survivors and played down to the nine-handed final table. Moon held 6,195,000, more than double of his next competitor Craig Casino who bagged 2,750,000. Casino was by far the most experienced player in the group, with two titles and 10 final table finishes to his name. Rounding up the top three stacks was Artem Zverkhovskyy who held 2,000,000.
Final Table Chip Counts
Final Table Recap
Several hands into play Bren Martin was eliminated in ninth place. Dennis Ng and Paul Elfetlt were both scalped by Moon in quick succession in eighth and seventh place respectively.
Mike O’Neill then found his run cut unexpectedly short after his all-in call on the turn found a caller in Eric Salazar. As the cards were tabled, O’Neill`s pocket aces up were up against queen-nine that improved to two pair on the queen-nine-king flop. The deuce on the turn had O’Neill drawing only to an ace, but it was the eight that came on the river, sending O’Neill packing in sixth place.
Next up, Moon opened to 125,000, and Bryant Miller announced all in for his last 765,000. Moon called and tabled the best starting hand in the game – pocket aces against Miller’s king-queen and with the board blanking out, it was Miller who left in fifth place.
In the very next hand, Craig Casino was done in, in fourth place.
Before long, Artem Zverkhovskyy opened for 220,000 with and called the all-in move of Eric Salazar who was holding . Zverkhovskyy hit top-pair on the flop , but the turn gave a sliver of hope to Salazar who added flush draws outs. But, it was not to be as the river bricked for Salazar, sending him out in third place.
Heads-up, Moon came in as a massive chip leader holding a stack of 12.8 Million to Artem Zverkhovskyy’s 4.2 Million. Despite Zverkhovskyy putting up a valiant fight – he managed to double up numerous times – it was not enough. On the final hand of the tournament, Zverkhovskyy moved all in on the button for 1.6 Million with , and Moon called with . The flop didn’t change much, but Zverkhovskyy got additional outs on the turn. However, he failed to get there with the appearing on the river, that crowned Moon the champion!
Final Table Results (USD)
Content & Images Courtesy: Heartland Poker Tour, PokerNews