The 2018 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan drew 1,271 entries, which resulted in the fourth consecutive visit with a $1,000,000+ prize pool!
After three starting flights and a long Day 2, Matt Stammen, the elder brother of well-known poker pro Keven Stammen, emerged victorious to capture his first major title and $218,565 in prize money.
“I’m elated, what can I say? It’s unbelievable,” Stammen said after the victory. “I threw my money in the hat and it worked out.”
Stammen, a shipping manager in an Ohio machine shop earning his first MSPT cash, had this to say on his poker-famous brother: “He’s 12 years younger. He’s been yelling at me the whole tournament. He’s been giving me a little bit of advice, let’s put it that way. It’s all about the trophy, I wanted one of those trophies so bad. The money is a bonus.”
Brother Keven Stammen has cashed four times on the MSPT including a runner-up finish to Angelina Rich at The Venetian back in 2015, Keven took home $199,635 for that deep run.
Amazingly, Stammen had a surgery scheduled for Monday morning, which he planned to attend just three hours after shipping one of the Midwest’s most prestigious titles.
“The weekend went perfect,” he said. “I asked them to move my surgery back just in case this happened. It was like it was all meant to be. I’ve got foot drop, so they’re going to cut a hole in my knee to loosen up a nerve. I’ll be off work the next 4-6 weeks.”
Day 2 saw 173 players return to action but with only 135 getting paid, 38 would leave empty handed including defending champ Chris Meyers, two-time MSPT champ Greg Himmelbrand, and joint bubble victims Miles Reinhard and Dee Bell.
Among those to cash but fall short of the final table were Nick Pupillo (11th - $17,239), 2017 MSPT Iowa State Poker Champion Carter Myers (14th - $13,545), last year’s runner-up Millard Hale (22nd - $8,127), current MSPT Kimo Sabe Mezcal Season 9 POY points leader Aaron Johnson (32nd - $5,172), Michael Lech (41st - $4,064), MSPT Hall of Famer Kou Vang (50th - $3,571), 2017 MSPT Indiana State Poker Champ Satish Thakur (58th - $3,202), start-of-the-day chip leader Irbrahim Shoubah (96th - $2,586), and World Poker Tour champ Ravi Raghavan (116th - $2,216).
Final Table Action
On the first hand of the final table, a short-stacked Derek Ritchie, also earning his first MSPT cash, shoved holding king-eight suited only to run into Isaac Kratchman’s pocket tens. The board ran out clean and Ritchie was the first to fall, good for $17,239.
Not long after, Dennis Brady bowed out in ninth place after running pocket threes into the kings of Matt Stammen, and then Jason Mangold exited in eighth losing ace-jack suited to Kratchman’s pocket kings all in preflop. This was Brady’s and Mangold’s first MSPT cash as well.
Frank Lagodich was the next to go in seventh place for $33,247 after losing ace-ten to Joey Wideman’s ace-jack, this was Lagodich’s second MSPT cash, previously finishing fourteenth. Germany’s Heinz Schluter followed him out the door in sixth for $43,098.
It took a while for the next players to fall but happened when Victor Gayheart got his short stack all in preflop holding ace-nine and failed to get there against Kratchman’s pocket queens. Poker pro Maurice Hawkins, who was a few hours late showing up for Day 2 after attending his 20-year high school reunion, lost ace-five to Wideman’s pocket eights to lose most of his chips. He’d lose the rest a short time later to bust in fourth place for $75,273. Hawkins’ third MSPT cash and first final table brought his career earnings to over $3.4 million.
Kratchman, the Day 1A chip leader, hit the rail in third place after the blinds and antes got too high. He jammed holding ace-nine and failed to hold against Stammen’s king-jack. Kratchman now has three MSPT cashes, one in each of the last three seasons.
On Hand #234 of the marathon final table, the final hand of the tournament took place when Stammen jammed holding ace-jack suited and Wideman called off with ten-nine. The latter flopped a gutshot straight draw but missed the turn and river to bust in second place for $135,451.