The MSPT’s 17th $1,100 Main Event ever held at Shakopee, Minnesota’s Canterbury Park attracted 456 entries and after a full weekend of play, it was Minnesota Poker Hall of Famer Blake Bohn who walked away with the title and $94,568 first-place prize.
It was redemption for Bohn, who had finished runner-up in the same tournament back in April (that marked his third time finishing an MSPT event in second place). The latest victory ties Bohn with Carl Carodenuto as the only players with three MSPT titles. Bohn previously won the MSPT Season 5 Grand Falls for $54,607 and Season 6 Meskwaki for $101,229.
“Finishing second sucks,” Bohn said after the win. “Before this, I had two firsts and three seconds, four seconds would’ve looked pretty bad. People don’t get heads up too often and it’s tough to play. I’m really grateful right now, really happy.”
Bohn also commented on the final table as a whole, which was comprised of all Minnesota players with one exception.
“We’re from Minnesota and this tournament was in Minnesota,” he said, “but I think we stack up pretty well at any event across the nation.”
Day 2 began with 58 players returning to action, but with only 54 slated to get paid four of them left empty handed including Dave Rutledge, Chi Doan, Larry Miller, and bubble boy Yevgeniy Minakrin, who saw his kings cracked by the pocket queens of Carl Carodenuto all in preflop.
Among those to cash but fall short of the final table were 2016 MN Poker Mag POY Saad Ghanem (15th - $5,290), three-time MSPT champ Carl Carodenuto (21st - $4,011), Day 1C chip leader Dana Isaacson (23rd - $3,394), Day 1B chip leader Kanat Ozturk (34th - $2,380), 2017 MN Poker Mag POY Todd Melander (35th - $2,380), and Minnesota Poker Hall of Famer Mike Schneider (53rd - $1,984).
Speaking of Hall of Famers, Day 1A chip leader Rich Alsup became just the second player to win their way into the MSPT Hall of Fame, which requires players to accomplish certain criteria to earn their way in. For Alsup, he got in for notching his tenth MSPT Main Event final table which is an MSPT record. Alsup has both an MSPT title (he won the MSPT Season 6 Meskwaki) and POY title from Season 6.
The final table was immediately classified as one of the toughest in MSPT history. In addition to Bohn and Alsup, there was the inaugural MSPT Hall of Fame inductee Kou Vang, who was seeking his second title at Canterbury Park, as well as MSPT champ Mark Sandness, reigning Canterbury Park Fall Poker Classic Main Event winner Dennis Stevermer, and the red-hot Ian Matakis.
Poker veteran Bill Criego was the first final table casualty after running pocket sixes into the nines of Sandness, who followed him out the door after failing to get there with ace-queen against Vang’s Big Slick. That win gave Vang the final table chip lead and he held it all the way to heads-up play against Bohn.
In the interim, Tyree Johnson, Dedric Henderson, Stevermer, and Michigan’s Jesse Allen all fell at the hands of either Vang or Bohn. With four players left, Matakis lost a flip with ace-king to Alsup’s pocket tens and hit the rail in fourth place for $31,739. You might recall that earlier in the year, Matakis won Minnesota’s $280 Mayhem in May for $30,500.
The three-handed match was comprised of three Minnesota legends. The triumvirate battled for a while before Alsup got his chips in with ace-eight and failed to get lucky against Vang’s ace-nine.
Alsup’s elimination in third place was his 22nd MSPT main event cash (3rd all-time) and brought his lifetime MSPT earnings up to $653,426, less than $30K outside the all-time lead. That is especially impressive when you consider he didn’t start playing the tour until Season 5 in 2014. Achieving MSPT Hall of Fame status in that short of time is truly incredible.
The heads-up match between Bohn and Vang proved to be a back-and-forth affair. Vang began with a big chip lead, lost it, and regained it. However, Bohn won three big flips throughout the bout, including ace-queen over pocket fives to jump out to a huge lead of his own.
In the final hand of the tournament, Vang got his stack n with pocket nines and was flipping against Bohn’s ace-queen. The flop brought an ace and Vang had to settle for second place and $58,238 in prize money.
“Kou is a more experienced online player, but I think we all played well,” said Bohn. “It’s always fun to play against experienced opponents, makes it more interesting.”
Coincidentally, both Bohn and Vang jumped to second and third place respectively on the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 9 Player of the Year leaderboard. Aaron Johnson still leads with 5,117 points, but Bohn (4,400 points) and Vang (3,900 points) are now positioned to give him a run for his money.
For Bohn, this was his 19th MSPT main event cash (4th all-time) and his 9th MSPT final table (2nd all-time). This 3rd victory brings his MSPT career earnings to $475,661 (5th all-time). If Bohn can notch another final table he will earn his way into the MSPT Hall of Fame.
The runner-up finish for Kou Vang brings his MSPT main event cash total to 27 (1st all-time) and $375,037 (10th all-time). The final table appearance was his 9th (2nd all-time).