Dragich Wins Inaugural MSPT Event
John Dragich, a calculating 20-year-old from St. Cloud, wins $34,765 and a diamond bracelet
After 19 hours of grinding spread across two days at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, MN, 20-year-old John Dragich became the first Minnesota State Poker Tour champion, knocking off fellow 20-year-old Chase Wood on the first hand of heads-up play.
For his effort, Dragich earned $34,765 and a diamond bracelet courtesy of Continental Diamond. He also earned the respect of his peers, who -- after seeing him go deep in the Midwest Poker Classic Main Event, Fall Poker Classic Main Event, and now the MSPT launch tournament -- now regard Dragich as one of the most dangerous players on the local scene.
Dragich is one of the most composed 20-year-olds you’ll find at a poker table. But despite his methodical demeanor on the felt, Dragich has plenty of gamble to him.
130 players either qualified via $250 satellite or bought in directly for $1,100 to the inaugural Minnesota State Poker Tour two-day Main Event. When the final 18 players arrived back at Canterbury for the second day of action, with spectators abound, Dragich ranked fourth in chips behind publisher and president of Minnesota Poker Magazine Bryan Mileski, and young guns Kevin Reichel and Chase Wood.
It took less than 90 minutes to go from 18 down to a 10-man final table, where seven of the 10 remaining players had chip stacks between 200K and 290K, with two others short-stacked or crippled. After Rob Wazwaz busted in 10th, the action slowed to a crawl. Players played 9-handed for two hours before Reichel and Toan Pham were felted. Mileski exited in 7th after losing back-to-back coinflips.
Chip Counts (blinds $8/16K):
Tim Votava - $440K
Jeff Mowery - $400K
Todd Melander - $370K
John Dragich - $280K
Chase Wood - $240K
Chris Dolan - $190K
Upon reaching 6-handed play, business picked up. Todd Melander, who seemingly rode a never-ending chip stack rollercoaster the entire tournament, raised to $50K from under the gun. Chip leader Tim Votava pondered for a minute and re-raised to $150K from the button. Melander quickly moved all in with 9♠9♦ and Votava snap-called with K♣K♦.
Melander, knowing he made a colossal mistake, leaned back in his chair with a pained expression. But when the flop came A♠9♥7♥, bringing a set for Melander, the gallery let out a collective gasp. The 9♣ give Melander quads on the river, but the damage was already done. Votava would exit in 6th just a few hands later.
With Dragich picking spots and laying in the weeds, Melander and Wood began mixing it up more and more, controlling the action at the table. Mowery ran A5 into Dragich’s JJ to bust out 5th. A short while later, Dolan, who won several coinflips to keep his short stack alive at the final table, ran A10 into Wood’s QQ to finish in 4th.
Chip Counts (blinds $15/30K):
Todd Melander - $750K
Chase Wood - $720K
John Dragich - $450K
At this point, Dragich was almost entirely card-dead, but Melander and Wood had no qualms about battling each other. After Melander hit quad nines against Votava to own nearly half the chips in play, it appeared as if he may run away from the field. Ironically, however, it was trip nines that doomed Melander in back-to-back big pots.
On a 9, 10, K, 5, 9 board, Melander led out for $100K into a $140K pot with 44, but