Michael Haggard takes down HPT in Colorado

michael haggard
The entire final table of the Heartland Poker Tour's main event at the Golden Gates Casino in Colorado.

He had to outlast the largest field in the history of poker in Colorado but Michael Haggard won $129,780 for finishing in first place at the Heartland Poker Tour's stop at the Golden Gates Casino.

In the end Haggard overcome 309 players to win the $1,500 HPT Golden Gates Casino main event. Haggard played with skill, and admittedly some luck, to beat them all, including his heads-up competition Steve Klaus.

"Wow, what can I say," said Haggard right after he won the tournament. "It was pretty amazing. I guess you could say I got pretty lucky."

And lucky he was. In the heads-up competition alone Haggard found himself all-in and trailing an incredible seven times. Each time, Haggard managed to pull off a Houdini-like escape to survive with his tournament life intact. This was all to the dismay of Klaus, who thought he had the tournament in the bag several times.

"That guy had more lives than a cat," said Klaus, a 37-year-old chiropractor from Denver, Colorado.

After a marathon match that saw more swings than a playground manufacturer Haggard finally finished Klaus. The final hand was befitting of the entire match as it came down to Haggard's pocket queens versus Klaus's pocket kings. Haggard sucked out on the board and it was curtains for Klaus. Perhaps it was destiny but it was a bitter loss for Klaus who saw his shot at $65,000 more disappear.

There was definitely a home court advantage as all but one player of the top six finishers were from Colorado.

The series started way back on Oct. 1 and it must be considered a success for the HPT because every qualifier sold out. Due to state law no one could buy-in directly to the main event; they had to satellite in. There were a total of 1,545 players who came to take part in the festivities.

The HPT now shifts its focus to South Dakota where the Lucky Nugget Casino will be hosting its events. Qualifiers start this Monday and will be played all week with the two-day main event scheduled for Oct. 21. After Deadwood, the HPT will have events in Iowa and Arizona, and the year will conclude with the HPT Championship Open event at Majestic Star Casinos in Gary, Indiana.

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