The third annual Mid-States Poker Tour Venetian Main Event proved to be a record-setting affair.
First, it was the largest MSPT in history with 2,887-entry field (499 entries on Day 1a; 968 Day 1b; and 1,420 Day 1c), which smashed the advertised $2 million guarantee by creating a $2,829,260 prize pool. Second, Day 1c was the largest-ever single flight ever held at the Venetian (all 72 tables were reserved for tournament play). Finally, Belgium's Thomas Boivin captured the title and a $352,153 -- the largest prize ever awarded on the MSPT – after a heads-up deal with poker pro Mukul Pahuja.
Boivin is a 26-year-old player who holds a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. He learned the game when he was just 16 years old and cut his chops online. According to HendonMob, he had $84,178 in live tournament earnings before the win with his largest cash being $25,367 for a runner-up finish in the Belgian Poker Challenge €2,000 High Roller.
"It's definitely a good moment for the money to come," said Boivin, who plans to stick around Vegas (it's his first time here) to try his luck at the 2016 World Series of Poker across town.
Boivin played a patient game at the final table as Pahuja controlled the action with a big stack. However, Boivin hit a heater with four players remaining and entered heads-up play against Pahuja, WPT Season XII Player of the Year, close enough in chips. The two proceeded to change the chip lead several times before taking a timeout to strike a deal. Instead of one of them winning the 403k first-place prize, they agreed that Pahuja would lock up $300,000, Boivin $352,153, and that $41,494 would be left on the table.
Soon thereafter, Boivin shoved the button with six-eight suited and Pahuja called with king-jack. Pahuja held through the flop and turn, but then Boivin spiked a gutshot straight on the river to clinch victory.
Long before that, the third and final day of play saw 22 players return to action, and it didn't take long for them to hit the rail. Tizzy Brown was the first to go after kings cracked his pocket aces, and then the last Minnesotan and MSPT champ standing, Dan "DQ" Hendrickson, followed him out the door in 21st for $20,371.
Others to fall over the next few hours were start-of-the-day chip leader Matt Herrera (16th - $24,615), Delmiro Toledo (14th - $26,876), and James Mangararo (11th - $33,951), just to name a few.
For more results and hand histories, feel free to pull from our live blog here.
Thanks to his third-place finish, TJ Thondup took the lead in the MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year with 2,400 points, ahead of Lauson and Boivin who have 2,117 and 2,000 respectively.