Since its creation in 2005 by friends Greg Land and Todd Anderson, the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) has established itself as among the premier professional poker tours in the US with numerous annual events held from coast to coast.
With a tagline of “Real People, Unreal Money,” the HPT has awarded more than $90 million in Main Event prize money to thousands of players. Now in its 14th season, the HPT has attracted—and continue to attract—among the best and most avid poker players in the US.
In this article, we’ll look at the remaining events on the 2018 HPT schedule and the history of the tour (including a controversial decision by tournament organizers).
The remainder of the Heartland Poker Tour schedule 2018 is as follows:
26 July-6 August
Ameristar Casino Hotel Vicksburg
23 August-3 September
Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago
Golden Gates Casino & Poker Parlour
Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room
Daytona Beach, Florida
What is the Heartland Poker Tour?
The Heartland Poker Tour is a US-based poker tour and internationally syndicated television series that airs over 52 weeks and makes numerous stops across the traditional American Heartland. While originally intended to be a Midwest, regional tour and television program, as the US ‘s appetite for televised poker increased, the HPT went into syndication across the world. Today, it airs in the Caribbean, Middle East, and Europe and on several cable and satellite television providers.
By the end of the HPT’s sixth season, it had produced more than 150 hour-long television episodes. Episodes are filmed at each US stop on the tour in casinos across the country in states like Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa.
The pièce de résistance is the HPT’s $1,650 buy-in Main Event. To gain entry into this tournament, players may either buy in directly or win through a qualification system. There are several events players can enter to gain entry into the highly coveted Main Event. From single-table sit-n-go’s to multi-table mega-satellites to multi-table, multi-day tournaments, there are events for every player’s bankroll and desire.
HPT Player of the Year
The HPT awards a player of the year (POY) based on accumulated points earned from tournament placement. Ari Engel won the honors for season 13, and other prior HPT players of the year include such familar names as Aaron Massey, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Shawn Roberts, and 2004 WSOP Main Event champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer.
Earning HPT player of the year honors carries with it much more than bragging rights (although those are pretty nifty in and of themselves.) In fact, players of the year freeroll into six main events the following year and also receive complimentary hotel accommodations at those six locations.
Heartland Poker Tour 2018 dates
Thus far, the HPT has held events in St. Charles, Missouri; Blackhawk, Colorado; Washington, Pennsylvania; Florence, Indiana; Las Vegas, Nevada; Chicago, Illinois. Additionally, the HPT held an event during a fabulous eastern Caribbean cruise this past March.
At a recent HPT event in Daytona Beach, Florida, Upswing member Ben Scrogins beat out 282 entries to win $94,540.
As of January 2009, HPT entered into a partnership with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in order to raise awareness and funding for the cause. In fact, one percent of every HPT prize pool goes toward DAV programs. The HPT holds additional celebrity charity tournaments to raise funds for DAV and also runs various DAV public service announcements during its weekly television programs.
During the HPT’s stop at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on 5-9 April, the event, the tournament became mired in controversy. On day 1C, the HPT tournament director announced a possible overlay, thus requiring the casino to ad $69,000 into the guaranteed $500,000 prize pool.
To avoid this overlay, tournament organizers chose to increase the field and permitted other players to join the prestigious tournament for only $825—half of the usual $1,650 buy-in. As would be (justifiably) expected, registered players did not react favorably to the news that new players received a discount, essentially decreasing existing players’ equity in the tournament. Consequently, particularly in today’s climate, social media—especially Twitter—exploded.
Many players announced that the Westgate HPT event would be their first and last HPT event. Others stated that this was a common problem with these types of tournaments as the host casinos are not required to respect rules. In fact, in the small print contained in the terms of this event, the casino had the right to cancel the guaranteed prize pool if fewer than 300 people enrolled in the tournament. Thus, while the Westgate’s actions were unethical, they were far from illegal; however, this is not the way to promote a positive image and garner repeat business.
The bottom line
Time will tell whether this incident will have any long-lasting effect on the Heartland Poker Tour itself and whether it will subsequently cancel future events held in Las Vegas—or at least at the Westgate.
Have you played in a Heartland Poker Tour event? If so, please share your experience below.
Until next time.
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- Aria Poker Room Review: Is it Worth Your Rake?
- Stu Ungar: A Legendary Poker Player and His Demons
- Best Poker Tournaments in Las Vegas
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.