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John Drikakis Claims HPT Title in Michigan

The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) may not be the most famous poker tour out there, but it has certainly gained a lot of exposure after signing the well-known and attractive poker pro Maria Ho as an expert commentator. Her presence has undoubtedly brought in numerous new followers and fans.

Just yesterday, one of the HPT events reached its culmination in Michigan when John Drikakis walked away $137,000 richer. Although a six-figure score is always impressive, even more impressive is the fact that Drikakis earned his seat from a $360 satellite and proceeded to top the field of 407 players. The victory was by far the biggest cash of his career. Drikakis landed at the final table in the same event last year, finishing in 6th place and pocketing $25,800.

Local Boys Compete Heads-Up

The last obstacle standing between him and a six-figure payday was Anthony Mastraieni. Both players were competing on their home turf and Drikakis was able to best his opponent after turning a flush on the final hand and picking off Mastraieni’s bluff. The runner-up still walked away $84,500 richer.

There were quite a few notable names in the field as well, the likes of Joe Cada, David Williams, Dutch Boyd and Allan Kessler. However, none of them made it all the way, and Cada and Boyd left empty-handed but still spared some time to offer live commentary from the booth.

Theodore Tober finished in third place, worth $55,400, which was a nice boost to his live tournament winnings of $6,500 prior to this event. Fourth place finisher Gus Vergos also booked his biggest live cash and earned $38,500, bringing his career total to $55,000.

HPT Popular Among Non-Pros

While the HPT may not be one of the poker tours everybody is talking about, the players seem to really enjoy playing these events. The tourneys offer a great chance for more casual players to hit a really big score for a small investment if they manage to go through qualifiers.

Millard Hale and Nicholas Pupillo were probably the most famous players at the final table, both with six figures earned from live tournaments. The pair finished in 9th and 8th places, respectively. Pupillo even started the day second in chips, but the cards would not come his way and he was eventually eliminated by second place finisher Mastraieni.

HPT is now headed for the Ameristar Casino Hotel in East Chicago, Indiana. Preliminary and qualifying events start on Thursday, August 7th and the Main Event, with the standard buy-in of $1,650, will see cards in the air a week later on August 14th.

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Ivan Potocki

Ivan is an aspiring journalist writer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a degree in English Literature and a fiery work ethic, Ivan adds a dynamic and flexible element to the PokerUpdate writing staff.