LAS VEGAS – HPT’S SEASON LAUNCH at Red Rock Casino Resort Spa drew a diverse field of recognizable Vegas pros and HPT regulars from the Midwest, but the event belonged to local poker insider Rob “veeRob” Perelman. The 32-year-old poker consultant invested just $250, winning his way into the main event through a qualifier event. Perelman, well-known in Vegas poker circles from his behind-the-scenes work on top poker shows, scored $158,755 after two hands heads up.
Although he has a solid resume from work on shows like “Poker After Dark” and “High Stakes Poker”, Perelman has never worked for the nationally-syndicated Heartland Poker Tour. Just weeks ago, he reached out to HPT producers to discuss working on the Red Rock event. When HPT executives passed due to time constraints, Perelman found himself on the show rather than behind the scenes.
HPT’s first tournament of 2011 wrapped up when Perelman’s ace-jack held up with an ace on the flop against mechanic Laszlo Gaspar’s queen-four. Playing his first major tournament, Gaspar fought exhaustion when the cards first hit the felt at the televised final table late Sunday night. At four the next morning, he was wide awake and $79,059 richer.
Among the poker A-listers who played the main event, Annie Duke, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Harman, Linda Johnson and Tiffany Michelle failed to make day two. Darvin Moon, 2010’s WSOP Main Event runner up, finished 37th for $1487. The fan favorite raffled half of his action in the main event to benefit the nonprofit organization Poker Gives.
The most recognizable face at the final table was J.J. Liu, the highest-placing female in any World Poker Tour championship event with over $2 million in winnings. Known for her elaborate wardrobe, Liu wore an embellished sweater and eye-catching hat to the televised final table, finishing third for $47,786.
Red Rock Casino Resort Spa
Las Vegas, NV
January 16, 2011
Main Event: 558
- Rob Perelman (Las Vegas, NV) $158,755
- Laszlo Gaspar (Las Vegas, NV) $79,059
- JJ. Liu (Las Vegas, NV) $47,786
- Heath Herring (Las Vegas, NV) $37,167
- Dick Heidman (Las Vegas, NV) $31,857
- Bob Garman (Las Vegas, NV) $26,548
Mixed Martial Arts fans will recognize Heath “Crazy Horse” Herring when the HPT episodes produced at Red Rock air this spring. An accomplished heavyweight fighter, Herring’s resume includes high-profile match-ups for UFC and in Japan. Now focusing on acting, Herring has seven movies under his belt. It was acting that cost him the battle at the final table. A bluff against Perelman ended his run with $37,167 in fourth place.
Also prepared for battle, retired army Green Beret Bob Jarman of Las Vegas splits his time between playing poker and teaching combat skills, sometimes combining the two. “The skills needed to be a warrior also apply to poker,” said the father of three who offers instruction on reading poker tells. His skill got him to sixth place in his first HPT event for $26,548.
Another HPT newbie was newly-retired Dick Heidman. The Akron, Ohio man relocated to Vegas five months ago to spend his retirement playing poker after his business interests devalued. “Business wasn’t good,” said Heidman, “If I’m going to lose money, I’m going to enjoy doing it.” Rather than losing money in his first major tournament, Heidman made a $31,857 deposit to his nest egg. Reflecting on all the top pros in the field, Heidman appreciated the opportunity to improve his game. “I’m in the learning process,” said the fifth-place finisher, “I’ll take what I learned to the next tournament.”
Heidman won’t have to go far to get to HPT’s next event. The nationally-syndicated poker show will return to Las Vegas next month for a star-filled charity event co-hosted by Phil Hellmuth and Adrian Peterson. The Golden Nugget event will benefit Starkey Hearing Foundation and promises to attract NFL athletes, A-list pros, and Hollywood celebrities.
About Heartland Poker Tour
Founded by Todd Anderson and Greg Lang in 2005, Heartland Poker Tour is built on a grass-roots strategy, “Real People, Unreal Money”. HPT provides poker enthusiasts a televised “Texas No Limit Hold’em” poker tour with affordable buy-ins. HPT is currently filming Season VII and is available in over 100 million US homes each week, as well as widespread distribution throughout Europe and the Caribbean. For more information and a complete schedule of upcoming events, visit www.HeartlandPokerTour.com.