Heartland Poker Tour producers promised players and fans an exciting tournament for the 200th episode of the nationallytelevised poker show, and Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque did not disappoint. Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, stole the show, advancing to the Final Table as the chip leader and leaving as the champion, with $71,875
Raymer adds to over $7 million in career winnings. In contrast, runnerup, Robert Crawford of El Paso, Texas, listed his lifetime career winnings as “not much.” Crawford, who invested just $180 into the tournament and left with $42,500, considered the day a success. “I definitely didn’t expect to be playing heads up with Greg Raymer today,” he said.
Besides Raymer, the biggest poker tournament in the state of New Mexico attracted a handful of familiar faces. Pro Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler made his way to Albuquerque, as did Kathy Liebert, the highest-earning woman in poker. Several past HPT champions were also in the field, including Craig Casino, John Sacha, and Rob “veeRob” Perelman. Ultimately, the 200th episode belonged to Raymer.
In 2004, the patent attorney made a name for himself in poker when he won the World Series of Poker Main Event. The following year, Raymer finished 25th in the WSOP Main Event, securing his status as a poker legend. His two year accomplishment ranks as one of most impressive performances in WSOP history. A longtime supporter of HPT, Raymer has played the tour many times, but cashed for the first time in Albuquerque. “It feels so much better when you win,” he said.
“I just like the attitude and demeanor on HPT,” the champ added, “Even if you knock someone out, they leave smiling.”
That was the case when Raymer eliminated Scott Dougherty of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “Playing at the Final Table with Greg Raymer was awesome,” said Dougherty as he collected his third place winnings of $26,875. After announcing he was all in with ace-nine offsuit, the always-courteous Raymer replied, “I begrudgingly call”, revealing ace-queen offsuit. When Dougherty’s position failed to improve with the flop, turn, or river, Dougherty left, with a smile.
“He’s an incredibly nice guy to play with,” said fifth-place finisher Allan Hedin, a pro player from Evergreen, Colorado, who picked up $16,250 at Route 66. “Every poker player has had the fantasy of playing against a world champion,” he said. In a crucial hand with Raymer, Hedin put a devastating dent in his chip stack when he laid down kings. When the 200th episode of HPT airs this fall, he’ll find out if he made the right decision.
Steven Carruthers, a commercial loan officer, knew immediately he made the wrong decision when he attempted to bluff the world champion. “I made a big mistake that put me in a bad position.” The bad position turned out to be sixth place. Carruthers earned $14,375 for his short time at the Final Table.
Benjie Benavidez, a cattle rancher from Albuquerque, made it his mission to eliminate Raymer for the bragging rights. “My goal is to knock out Greg Raymer, whether I win or not,” he said before filming began at the Final Table. Finishing in fourth place, for $21,550, he never had the chance. “I came to play HPT because it was the biggest tournament ever in New Mexico,” he said. “I thought I’d try my luck.” He plans to reinvest his profit in poker and cattle. Benavidez plans to join Raymer at HPT’s next event at Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour in Black Hawk, Colorado September 9-16th.
ROUTE 66 CASINO 7/27/12
HEARTLAND POKER TOUR
NO LIMIT HOLD’EM
BUY-IN $1,500 + $150
PRIZE POOL $250,000
1. Greg Raymer . . . . . . $71,875
2. Robert Crawford . . $42,500
3. Scott Dougherty . . . $26,875
4. Benjie Benavidez . . $21,550
5. Allan Hedin . . . . . . . $16,250
6. Steven Carruthers . $14,375
7. John Bechard . . . . . $11,875
8. Alberto Herrera . . . $10,625
9. Julian Melancon . . . . $9,375