The 2019 MSPT FireKeepers Casino $1,000,000 Guaranteed Main Event proved to be a monstrous affair, setting a record for the largest MSPT Main Event outside of Las Vegas, as 1,592 entrants hit the felt, creating an over $1.5 million dollar prize pool!
Chris Moon, who days prior topped a field of 570 to take down the $1,650 HPT Ameristar East Chicago for $183,899, took down his second mid-major title of the week by shipping MSPT FireKeepers for a whopping $258,407!
"Best week of my life!" Moon said about his two victories. Moon, who's "...been playing since I was trying not to get a job in high school, trying to play basement games and stuff." had an interactive and vocal rail cheering him on throughout the final table, which was an asset for Moon. "It was nice because at the HPT, no one from my family or circle was there, so it was like a really quiet gallery every time I won. So it was good to have friends here."
One of the biggest hands at the final table was when Moon doubled through Jeff Hill in a pot that contained half the chips in play six-handed. "Turning a set of jacks was huge. At that point I was still pretty confident that I was going to have a good result, it was just a matter of trying to keep first in chips off my back while taking advantage of third, fourth, and fifth in chips and it seemed like he was not willing to let up, and it just kinda worked out where I had a big hand, he had a big hand (Hill flopped a set of sevens in the hand), he kinda played it in a way where he was gonna try to get more value, and he got just the absolute worst turn in the deck. I don't know if there's a lot of turns where I'm going to go broke to him. It's such a nutty turn with the way all the chips were distributed at that point, we shouldn't want to be colliding between each other too much, but it's just crazy how it worked out where he ended up taking second anyway; you could not script it that way."
With a total of $442,306 in earnings between the two wins in the last week, Moon reflected on his road to making it to this point. "I've got some plans for the money. Around this time last year, I wasn't doing so hot. I was really considering a change. I've got so many people just telling me, 'you should just be taking full time work,' and I dropped out of playing poker full time to start my own software company, and even that, people told me left and right, you should be taking full time work. It's just never been the way that I am, I kinda felt like my heart won't be in it and I won't work for it and die for it the way that I am right now if I'm not doing it full time for myself. It's just validation and then some."
Day 2 saw 202 players return, but only 171 would leave with a chunk of the prize pool. 31 players left empty-handed, including #MSPT100 champ Jason Ramos, WSOP Colossus II champ Ben Keeline, Ralph Massey, and bubble boy Griff Woodman, when his suited Big Slick ran into the tens of Frederic Kohagen. Kohagen flopped a set, and Woodman was left just short of the money.
Players that earned a cash before the Final Table include Season 4 MSPT POY Pat Steele (11th - $20,055), Matt Ploof (15th - $16,970), Jeff Fielder (16th - $16,970), Alan Cutler (19th - $11,879), start of Day 2 chip leader Jeff Mackey (21st - $11,879), Season 9 MSPT POY Aaron Johnson (24th - $10,027), Craig Casino (28th - $6,171), Season 10 MSPT Golden Gates champ Brian Hou (32nd - $6,171), Kevin Berthelsen (39th - $4,782), CJ Hubble (55th - $3,857), three-time MSPT champ Blake Bohn (60th - $3,857), Season 7 MSPT FireKeepers champ Aaron Massey (61st - $3,857), MSPT Hall of Famer Kou Vang (62nd - $3,857), Ian Matakis (73rd - $3,240), Season 8 MSPT Indiana State Poker champ Satish Thakur (91st - $2,777), Season 8 MSPT Potawatomi Regional champ Craig Trost (96th - $2,777), Cy Church (104th - $2,623), 2018 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist Nicolas Manion (114th - $2,468), Season 9 MSPT Iowa State Poker champ Brian Soja (116th - $2,468), and MSPT Poker Bowl III champ Brian Wilson (157th - $2,006).
Final Table Action
Grand Haven, Michigan native Damon Chittenden started the Final Table as the short stack, and couldn't get any traction, as he lost a flip with ace-king suited to Jeff Hill's pocket eights. Chittenden's first MSPT cash was for $20,055, besting a career-high $17,751 for an 18th place finish at a WSOPC event in 2017.
Iowa's Jason Bender would be the next to go after losing a massive pot with the nut flush draw against Hill's ace-king on a king-high flop. Bender would fail to find a club, and Hill secured his second KO of the final table with Big Slick. Bender's $26,227 for ninth place was his fifth MSPT Final Table, and his second biggest cash on tour since a third place finish at Canterbury Park in Season 7.
A short time later, Jason Johnson's ace-jack couldn't overcome Chris Moon's queens to leave Johnson with just a single big blind, and he fell in short order afterward, settling for eighth place and $32,398. The Waterford, Michigan native's third MSPT cash was by far his best, besting a 172nd place finish at the $1,600 MSPT Venetian Event last season.
Moon notched his second consecutive knockout shortly after when his ace-queen bested the ace-nine of Day 1B chip leader Irbrahim Shoubah, leaving the Dearborn, Michigan native in seventh place and $41,654 richer. This marks Shoubah's second straight cash here at MSPT FireKeepers events, after finishing 96th in the 2018 Michigan State Poker Championship.
Sultan Ahmed's first MSPT Final Table came to an end next in sixth, falling to Moon one hand after his ace-eight couldn't overcome the ace-jack of Ryan Awwad. The Madison, Wisconsin resident cashed for $52,543 and his first ever MSPT cash.
It would be almost ninety minutes before Rudy Sawa's king-jack failed to catch up to Hill's king-queen, and Sawa ended up finishing in fifth place for $69,423. The Commerce Township, Michigan native added to his over $250,000 in career tournament earnings with his first MSPT cash.
2018 MSPT Michigan State Poker champ Matthew Stammen of Coldwater, Ohio made an incredibly impressive return trip to FireKeepers, battling all the way down to the final four before finally succumbing to a turned Awwad set that left him with crumbs. Stammen, who took home $91,022, has played three MSPT events in his career, and with those three events, he has one win, two final tables, and already sits eighteenth on the MSPT Career Earnings list with two huge cashes in a one year span!
Awwad was the next to go in three-handed play, getting unlucky when his ace-seven couldn't hold up against Moon's king-jack. Awwad, who finished sixteenth in this event last year for his biggest ever career cash, was able to vastly improve on that score with the $120,334 going back to Ann Arbor, Michigan with him.
Augusta, Michigan's Hill was the last to fall before Moon's victory was complete. In the final hand of the tournament, Moon limped in from the button, and Hill raised to 1.2 million in the big blind. Moon called.
Hill bet 1.3 million on the flop, and Moon called.
Hill bet 2.1 million when the fell on the turn, and Moon eyed up Hill’s remaining 4.5 million chips before announcing “All in.” Hill quickly called.
“He’s dead! LET’S GO BABY!” Moon yelled when he saw that Hill’s seven-high straight was drawing dead to his own nine-high straight. The river sealed the victory for Moon and left Hill going back to Augusta, Michigan with $158,902.