Chris Moon

Chris Moon, surrounded by chips, cash, and his trophy, is all smiles as he displays the hand that won him the Main Event Championship of the Heartland Poker Tour last week at Ameristar East Chicago Casino & Hotel.

Professional poker player Chris Moon had been there before.

Four years ago, in his home state of Michigan while competing at the final table of the Main Event at the Mount Pleasant stop on the Heartland Poker Tour, Moon lost a heads-up match and had to settle for the $101,823 runner-up prize instead of the title.

Last week at the final table of the $1,650 Main Event of the HPT tournament at Ameristar East Chicago, he left little doubt he was destined for victory. The Wolverine picked off his eight opponents one by one before defeating Artem Zverkhovskyy in heads-up play to win the title, a $183,899 check, and a $3,500 HPT championship package.

It marked the first live tournament victory for Moon, who has been competing professionally for over a decade. He said that he would re-invest a portion of his winnings in entry fees for the busy tournament schedule that lies ahead.

“I’ve been trying to win a live tournament since I was like 18 years old,” Moon said. “So, this is a dream come true, truly.”

Zverkhovskyy, who is well known in Midwest poker tournament circles, collected $113,605 for second, while Eric Salazar finished third for $74,456.

Moon knew he had a stiff challenge when the nine players for the final table assembled. Among them was Craig Casino, “Mr. HPT” himself, who is the all-time leading money on the Heartland Poker Tour with two titles and multiple cashes worth $857,834 in prize money.

Casino has been a regular on the HPT circuit since 2011. His twin Main Event titles include a career high $293,270 cash in the Main Event at Black Hawk, Colorado.

Casino could do no better than fourth place this time around, but the $51,735 that he earned pushed his live poker tournament winnings to over the $1-million plateau.

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The consistency it takes to compete professionally at the poker table was evident in this tournament. No less than four former Heartland Poker Tour Main Event champions at Ameristar East Chicago finished in the top 20, including Nick Davidson (13th, $9,399), Nick Pupillo (16th, $7,192), Rob Wazwaz (17th, $7,192), and Alan Ziskin (19th, $5,394).

The Heartland Poker Tour will make another stop at Ameristar East Chicago, the third of the year, for a tournament running Aug. 22 through Sept. 2.

Last year, the seaon-ending $2,500 Heartland Poker Tour Championship was held for the first time at the property.

Please visit hptpoker.com for a complete tournament schedule.


BLUE CHIP: A significant life-changing progressive slot jackpot that had gone unclaimed for many moons was won last week by a guest savvy enough to play max credits to be eligible for the six-figure bounty. Playing a dollar denomination “Party Spin” from Scientific Games, a traditional stand-alone three-reel mechanical spinner, the lucky Indiana resident bet the maximum amount of five credits ($5) and lined up the jackpot symbols to the tune of $330,551. The progressive was reset with seed money of $20,000, which means the jackpot had built up over an extended period of time. It doesn’t mean a player hadn’t come along and lined up the jackpot symbols during that time. It probably happened more than once when a player chose to bet less than the $5 max, making them ineligible for the progressive. Lesson learned: If you’re unwilling to bet the max on a machine with a fat progressive, pick another machine.

FOUR WINDS: Sunday (May 26) is drawing day for the $200,000 “Outdoor Adventure” which is open to guests at all Four Winds Casino destinations. The grand prize is a 30-foot Forest River FR3 RV plus a $3,000 Outdoor Adventure store gift card. Hourly drawings begin at Noon when five $2,000 cash winners will be selected. Four winners will be selected at each of the 1, 3, 5 and 7p.m. drawings. They will all receive a $3,000 Outdoor Adventure store gift card. Five guests at each of the 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. drawings will win $1,500 in instant credit/free slot play. The RV will be awarded at 9 p.m. followed by a 10 p.m. drawing to select two $10,000 cash prize winners. Please visit the W Club for complete information. All times are EDT.

HORSESHOE: With the World Series of Poker set to begin next week at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the Hammond property’s poker room is abuzz with activity surrounding the 2019 WSOP Warm-Up Series that began last week. With over $250,000 in guaranteed prize money and WSOP $10,000 Main Event seats to be awarded, it’s a perfect way for Midwest-based players to get their game on for Las Vegas. Today (Thursday, May 23) is the start of the 3-day $200,000 guaranteed $700 No Limit Hold’em Tournament. Continuing Friday and Saturday, the event has one $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat added. Starting time each day of the tourney is 12:15 p.m. On Sunday (May 26) there is a $360 No Limit Hold’em Bounty tournament at 12:15, followed at 3:15 by a $1,300 No Limit Hold’em WSOP Satellite event in which one in 10 players will be awarded a $12,000 WSOP Main Event package. Call the poker room directly at 219-473-6065 and poker room manager Michael Soto and his staff will be eager to provide complete information.

MAJESTIC STAR: Your final opportunity this month to get in on the “Gas Card Hot Seat” promotion is Tuesday (May 28). Three winners will be selected every 30 minutes from Noon to 8 p.m. Each winner will be awarded a $25 gas gift card and $75 in Promo Cash. All you must do to be eligible is actively be playing a slot machine with your Majestic Rewards player’s club card properly inserted in the machine at the time of the drawing.

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Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach him at jgbrokopp1@gmail.com.