Mike Thulson is golden at HPT event in Colorado

Mike Thulson

It was one of the largest prize pools ever assembled at the Heartland Poker Tour Golden Gates Casino event and Mike Thulson, a kitchen designer from Centennial, Colo., took advantage.

Thulson outlasted 401 opponents and then beat Michael Pempin in heads-up play to take down first place and a cool $180,810 at the Colorado event.

It was a shining moment for the 49-year-old, who said he would buy his wife a horse if he won the tournament.

"I had such a great time," Thulson said. "Who could have thought this would happen."

Thousands of players came out to the Golden Gates Casino to play in the satellites and qualifiers for the main event, which had to be held in three separate flights because of the massive field.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout at Colorado.

"What a phenomenal event," said HPT co-founder Todd Anderson. "All I can say is the people in Colorado really love their poker. This is why we come here twice a year."

The HPT is heating up and the next event will be held at Majestic Star Casinos in Gary, Indiana, on April 17. The last HPT event in Indiana was the HPT Championship, which saw over 1,000 players get in on the action, and organizers are estimating that the prize pool for the upcoming event could hit nearly $1 million.

The next HPT event in Colorado will start on Sept. 22 and run through Oct. 5 at the Golden Gates Casino.

Here's a look at the complete final-table payouts for HTP Golden Gates:

Player: Prize:
Mike Thulson $180,810
Michael Pempin $90,405
Xue Vang $54,243
Brian Johnson $42,189
John Reno $36,162
Mark Herrera $30,135

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