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Heartland Poker Tour -- Season 6 Launches in Las Vegas

Red Rock Casino Will Host First HPT Main Event of the New Season and a Celebrity Charity Tournament for the Disabled American Veterans

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The Heartland Poker Tour will begin season six with one of its most ambitious tour stops ever. The HPT Vegas Vacation began earlier this week in Las Vegas at Red Rock Casino and on Saturday, it will feature a $1,100 no-limit hold’em main event. The tournament series will also host a HPT/DAV Celebrity Charity Event that will benefit the Disabled American Veterans.

Here is a look at the schedule for the main event:

HPT $1,100 no-limit hold’em main event:

Jan. 16: Day 1A begins at 8 a.m., Day 1B begins at 4 p.m.
Jan. 17: Day 2 Begins at 10 a.m., final table begins at 5 p.m.

“We wanted to do something in warm weather, and we have been talking to Red Rock for about 14 months to put this thing together,” said Todd Anderson, president and cofounder of the tour.

The HPT is excited to be back in Las Vegas for a second time. Their first Vegas event was hosted at Hooters Casino to kick off season three in 2007.

To help bring its Midwestern player base out to Las Vegas, the HPT has chartered jets from Chicago, Denver; Fargo, North Dakota; and Joplin, Missouri.

“We chartered these jets, and the way people got on the jets was by winning a satellite event at their local casino, which included the flight, a room at the Red Rock, and the buy-in for the main event,” said Anderson.

In 2009, the HPT partnered with DAV, which is dedicated to building better lives for America’s disabled veterans and their families. The HPT donated one percent of every prize pool during season five, and $40,000 was raised for the charity. “We’re hoping to raise at least that much this week,” said Anderson. The charity event started today at 1 p.m. at Red Rock and featured a $300 buy-in with $100 rebuys and $200 add-ons.

The televised final table for the charity event will begin in the evening at 6 p.m. Each player who enters the charity event has a fair shot at some television time.

“We have wanted to run a television celebrity event for DAV for a while, but it’s tough to do that in a place like Iowa,” said Anderson. “We were looking for a venue that was prestigious and easy to get to, and what place is better than Las Vegas for poker?”

Half of the prize pool will be donated directly to the DAV, and half the prize money will go to the players, who can also donate their winnings to the charity. Celebrities who are confirmed for the event include James Woods, Men Nguyen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dennis Phillips, Tom Franklin, Robin Leach, John Vorhaus, and Tiffany Michelle.

Season 5 Reflections

Season five of the HPT concluded in late November 2009 with the HPT Championship Open at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The event attracted a field of 297 players and created a prize pool worth $426,528.

Season five consisted of 17 events in all, and eight times the total prize pool was more than $400,000. Twice, the total prize pool was more than half a million dollars at HPT events last year. The first came at a tour stop in Black Hawk, Colorado, at the Golden Gates Casino in early April ($640,800), and the second came also took place in Black Hawk in July ($581,250). The total number of participants for season five main events was 5,072, and 17,809 players took part in qualifiers during the season.

“We had a couple of events that dipped down a little bit, like 10 percent-15 percent. It was our summer slump, and then at the end of the year we really came back strong. Three of our last four events were sell-outs. The nice thing about our tour is we are still pretty affordable,” said Anderson.

Looking Ahead to Season 6

The new season is currently scheduled for 14 events at eight locations across the United States, and there are plans to add more events in new locations in the coming weeks.

“My priority after Las Vegas is to stay out on the road and try to secure two or three new events,” said Anderson.

The markets they are targeting for growth include Northern and Southern California, Arizona, Atlantic City, and Louisiana.

“My biggest goal for 2010 is to add new markets, because we get e-mails from people all the time asking us to come to their casino. It would be great to go into the Phoenix area or the San Diego area,” said Anderson. “Last year, we added Oklahoma, and it ended up being a big huge hit, so we would like to the same thing this year in another market.”

The television outlook for the HPT remains strong, as well. There are now 140 episodes of the show, and it airs in all 50 states, as well as multiple countries in Europe (Italy is a recent addition) and the Caribbean. The show reaches 100 million U.S. homes and another 20 million abroad. More than 150 television channels now carry the show. PokerStars will be the official sponsor for season six.

2010 HPT Main Event Stops:

Jan. 11-17: Red Rock Casino (Las Vegas, NV)
Jan. 21-31: Downstream Casino Resort (Quapaw, Oklahoma)
Mar. 13-21: Shooting Star Casino (Mahnomen, Minnesota)
Mar. 22-28: Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel (Tama, Iowa)
Apr. 3-18: Golden Gates Casino (Black Hawk, Colorado)
May 9-16: Turning Stone Resort and Casino (Verona, New York)
May 14-23: Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan)
Sept. 11-26: Golden Gates Casino (Black Hawk, Colorado)
Oct. 1-10: Downstream Casino Resort (Quapaw, Oklahoma)
Oct. 11-17: Turning Stone Resort and Casino (Verona, New York)
Oct. 18-24: Shooting Star Casino (Mahnomen, Minnesota)
Nov. 1-7: Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel (Tama, Iowa)
Nov. 12-21: HPT Championship Open at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan)