Mike Wilmes topped a Minnesota-record field of 447 runners to take down the 2014 Mid-States Poker Tour Canterbury Park Main Eventfor $108,984. The score is more than four times Wilmes' total recorded live tournament winnings. The Roseville native triumphed after roughly 13 hours of play on Day 2.
The key pot that vaulted Wilmes into prime chip position came in Level 22 (8,000/16,000/2,000). Three players saw a 7♦Q♥5♥ flop for what appeared to be 100,000 each. Ken Pates checked, Todd Lyfoung bet 80,000, and Wilmes made it 250,000 on the button. Pates announced a reraise and he pushed 500,000 into the middle. Lyfoung got out of the way, and Wilmes moved all in for 621,000. Pates called.
Wilmes had a massive combo draw, while Pates had flopped middle set. The 2♠ was a brick on the turn, but the dealer placed down the 9♣on the river, giving Wilmes the stone nuts and the win. The high school math teacher grabbed the chip lead with that massive pot, and he stayed on cruise control to the final table, which he entered as the man to catch.
Brian Soja, who claimed second place at this very tournament last year for about $50,000, was the first to fall when he ran the Q♣Q♠ into the K♥K♣ of eventual runner-up Mike Lang.
Wilmes then busted Dennis Stevermer in ninth when his live cards out ran Stevermer all in preflop. Wilmes then stayed out of all-in confrontations, protecting his stack as Tony Lazar and Jason Smith fell by the wayside in eighth and seventh, respectively. Then, Jerome Getzbowed out in sixth when he ran the 10♦9♦ into the 10♣10♠ of Lang.
Lang made the next elimination as well, playing himself into an interesting spot by just calling with a big hand preflop. Pates raised to 170,000 on the button, and Lang defended his big blind with a call. Lang checked to the raiser on the K♣A♠6♠ flop, and Pates fired 225,000. Lang raised it to 500,000, and Pates announced a deep-voiced all-in shove. Lang tanked for a long few minutes before voicing a call.
Lang was in a great spot, needing to fade only a three, while a pair on the board below kings would chop it for Pates. The 2♦ and 7♥ kept it clean for Lang, and Pates had to settle for fifth place.
Wilmes then dragged another key pot when he four-bet jammed on a Q♠7♦7♥ flop against Jim Lawrence, who found a fold despite putting in about half of his stack. Wilmes finished him off shortly thereafter, and three-handed play took on a distinctly heads-up feel, as Wilmes and Lang battled back and forth while Harry Behling mostly lurked on the sidelines. Finally, Behling picked his spot, and it was a good one. He opened to 180,000 on the button, and Wilmes shipped it in from the big blind. Behling called off his 1.4 million after thinking for a couple of minutes.
Wilmes had been caught shipping light, but the Q♥8♦7♠ flop bailed him out with a pair. Behling slammed a few chips with frustration as the 6♥ turned, leaving him drawing to three outs. The 2♠ didn't help him on the river, and the beat sent him to the payout desk.
Heads-up play lasted just a few hands, and it ended when Lang decided to get tricky with ace high on the button and limp-reraise, only to see Wilmes four-bet. Lang elected to jam it in, but Wilmes snapped it off with pocket jacks and held for the win.
Thanks for tuning in to PokerNews' coverage of another great MSPT event. We'll be back in a few weeks with the MSPT FireKeepers Main Event, so we'll see you then. Until then, check out MSPTPoker.com for more tour information.