Former WSOP champion Greg Raymer dominates the Heartland Poker Tour in 2012



Greg Raymer (Photo courtesy Heartland Poker Tour)

Imagine if reigning National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants decided to return to Triple AAA baseball for a season.

That’s one way to look at the run former World Series of Poker champion Greg Raymer had over the past few months at the Midwest-centric Heartland Poker Tour.

Raymer captured three events on the tour in July, September and October. He followed up that run by capturing the Heartland Poker Tour’s Championship Open earlier this week, taking home the year-end title and $106,030.

The prize was far less than the $5 million Raymer earned in 2004 when he captured the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em World Championship. Still, the player, known as “Fossil Man,” said he was “overwhelmed” by his run.

The nickname "Fossil Man" comes from Raymer's hobby of collecting fossils and his use of them as card protectors. He is a patent attorney and is active in the Poker Players Alliance.

Raymer began his march in July, when he captured the Heartland Poker Tour event at the Route 66 Casino in New Mexico, earning $71,875. Two months later, Raymer won the Heartland Poker Tour event hosted by the River City and Lumiere casinos in St. Louis, winning $121,973.

A month later, Raymer won the Heartland Poker Tour event at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino in Iowa, earning $72,089.

His victory in the Championship Open last week at the Belterra Casino in Indiana earned him the respect of the tour.

“I’m a recreational player and there’s a world champion here,” said Jason Guinn of Nashville, Tenn., who finished fifth in the Championship Open.

Raymer locked up the Heartland Poker Tour’s Player of the Year race after his second win. His fourth win catapulted him to the top of the tour’s all-time money leaders list with $371,967. He is the first person to win four titles on the tour.

At the World Series of Poker, Raymer has cashed in 18 events since 2001, earning more than $6.5 million.

The Heartland Poker Tour was acquired earlier this by regional casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment. The poker tour had been owned by the Epic Poker League, which went into bankruptcy. The Heartland Poker Tour was one of the only financially viable aspects owned by Epic Poker.

The Heartland Poker Tour will launch its ninth season in 2013 and Director of Operations Jen Mastrud said expansion is planned.

“HPT will stop in new markets across the country while still visiting some of our favorite casinos and loyal players,” Mastrud said.