In a major fete, after fighting his way through what was the largest one flight field in the history of the organization on Monday morning, an unemployed factory worker from Arkansas captured the first championship of the 2009 season of the Heartland Poker Tour at the Downstream Casino in Quapaw, OK.
"What an amazing start to our 2009 season. Not only was Downstream a wonderful property for our crew to spend time, but we saw that the people of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas are serious about their poker. We'd never been to this area so we weren't sure of the outcome. Having over 450 players was unbelievable for a first-time venue." said HPT co-founder Todd Anderson.
The Heartland Poker Tour was able to draw an impressive field of 457 players into the event through their unique qualifier system which essentially is a satellite tournaments that take the top thirty percent of the field as well as straight buy ins to the tournament. The turn out was by far the largest one flight tournament in the five year history of the organization.
Jim Jennings of Monkey Island, OK and Sean Sananikone of Fort Smith, AR played in heads up action until nearly dawn before Sananikone took out Jennings, winning the title and a payday of $127,404. Jennings took home $63,702 for his efforts as the runner up finisher. The nearly 6 am tournament finish is the longest one day tournament in the history of the Heartland Poker Tour. In a twist of fate, Sananikone recently found out that the factory he worked at in Arkansas would be closing and he would soon be without a job. "This is so great," an excited Sananikone stated as he held the fruits of his day's labor. "This couldn't have come at a better time for me and my family."
This event in Oklahoma was the first out of 18 events scheduled for the HPT 2009.
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