Cord Garcia topped one of the largest fields in Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) history at Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour to earn his second win in as many tries in Colorado. The Houston native earned $248,732 for first place less than six months after winning the very same event.
The nationally-televised Main Event at Golden Gates drew 787 total entries, the second-largest field in the tour's eleven-year history. A mix of pros and amateur poker enthusiasts from across the country made their way to the Black Hawk, Colorado property to take a shot at the prize pool which reached a staggering $1,156,890.
The road to victory wasn't easy for Garcia as the final table was full of experienced competitors. One of those players was Las Vegas's Dan O'Brien. With nearly $3 million in reported career earnings, O'Brien was one of the most feared players at the table. Together, O'Brien and Garcia eliminated every player at the table.
The two of them played heads-up poker for several hours before they finally got all of the chips into the middle. O'Brien held pocket kings and Garcia had ace-queen. O'Brien was in good shape to end the tournament until a river ace gave Garcia the pot and left O'Brien with only a few big blinds. Shortly after that, Garcia got the rest of the chips. O'Brien took home $153,982 for second place.
"I love this spot in Black Hawk," O'Brien said with a smile. "You'll probably see me here again soon."
Professional poker player Andrew Dean quietly played his way to a top three finish. The Feeding Hills, Massachusetts man got the last of his chips in against Garcia as a big underdog. He was unable to catch one of the remaining outs in the deck and his day came to an end in third place. Dean still scored a six-figure payday, walking away with $153,982.
Construction worker Saad Vasquez made the most of his first HPT Main Event. Vasquez, from Castle Rock, Colorado, went out shortly before Dean when he found himself all-in with pocket sevens against O'Brien's aces. The aces held and Vasquez was sent to the rail in fourth place with $69,760.
Another one of Garcia's victims at the table was Zohair Karim. Karim has an impressive $1.5 million in earnings at the felt over the course of his career. Though he wasn't able to add an HPT title to his resume, the Orlando, Florida man did play his way to a fifth-place finish, good enough for $50,903.
Westminster, Colorado's Ben Keeline has something in common with the champ Garcia. They are the only two winners of the WSOP's massive Colossus events. Keeline has a handful of HPT cashes under his belt, but this was his first time playing under the bright lights of the tour's televised table. In the end, he went out in sixth place and earned $39,103 for his weekend's worth of work.
Retiree Ed Sebesta was making his second appearance at an HPT Final Table in as many weeks. The Richmond, Texas man finished third in New Orleans earlier this month. In impressive fashion, Sebesta plans to donate all of his winnings to the Congregation of Holy Cross. That donation will come in the amount of $32,277 as that is what Sebesta collected for seventh place.
Torii Beeding and Justin Enger, both from nearby Denver, were the first two to players to be eliminated. Beeding came in as the small stack and wasn't able to get anything going. He was the first to be knocked out by Garcia, going out in ninth place. Beeding earned $21,634. Enger went out in similar fashion, also at the hands of Garcia. He took home $26,956 for eighth.
From here, HPT will take a few weeks off before returning to Southern Indiana for another series at Belterra Casino Resort. For a full schedule of events at that tour stop as well as a list of all other upcoming events, visit HPTpoker.com.