Poker tour reaches America’s heartland

October 29, 2007 11:02 PM
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The Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) is hitting poker rooms across America that the big boys — the World Poker Tour and World Series Circuit — don’t ordinarily reach, including Minnesota, Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, New York and North Dakota.

In the process, the HPT has become popular with poker femme fatales, who have been entering tournaments in substantial numbers.

At a recent tour stop at the Golden Gate Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, the poker room was filled to the brim with players, many of whom were lady poker players.

Overall, about 15% of the players were women.

In almost three years of traveling and taking the Heartland Poker Tour across America, one woman has already won the main event at the Shooting Star Casino at Mahnomen, Minnesota. Jenny Kriewald of Valley City, North Dakota bested the field of over 600 players to take down the first place prize of $52,973.

With such an outpouring of distaff players, the possibility of a ladies-only event can’t be far ahead.

"We have been contacted by several organizations requesting to participate with our tour to present a ladies-only event," said Greg Lang, who along with Todd Anderson founded the tour. "We really would like to follow through on this idea. Once we have the correct location and hosting casino, you will definitely see this event.

"In the mean time, we are drawing more ladies than any other tour out there in relation to percentages of our players," Land continued. "We present satellites and qualifiers that everyone can afford, which evidently appeals to the women’s market. Our numbers don’t lie!"

The Heartland Poker Tour has its own production unit that caravans from tournament to tournament. So far, just the main event is produced for broadcast, but the technology is cutting edge, featuring the popular "hole card" camera that viewers have come to expect.

The production includes a sequestered room for the monitors and technical staff that have the task of recording hands and hole cards for the final table. Interestingly, the security is tight for the monitoring room, which must be approved by the local gaming commission.

"We want to comply with every gaming commissions request so that we may return for another tournament," Lang said. "Cementing a secure relationship with the various states’ gaming commissions and hosting casinos is paramount to our success."

Well, the Heartland Poker Tour must be doing something right; they have more than doubled their playing fields in less than three years time.

At the Black Hawk tournament, Michael Haggard of Evergreen, Colorado walked away with $129,780, one of the largest first prizes given to date. A total of 30 places were paid from a prize pool of $463,000, which was the largest poker prize pool to date in Colorado history.

 Black Hawk’s Golden Gate Casino hosted over 1,500 players during the satellite/qualifier week.

 If you can’t make a WPT or WSOP Circuit tourney, watch for the Heartland Poker Tour to come to a poker room near you. More information on this tour’s schedule can be found at www.HeartlandPokerTour.com.