The $1,100 buy-in, $3.5 million guarantee MSPT Venetian Main Event attracted 4,411 runners (477 on 1A, 750 1B, 1,312 1C and 1,872 1D) over four flights, which made it the largest poker tournament in both MSPT and Venetian history!
On Friday, the final 39 players returned to play down to a winner. After 10 hours, it was 44-year-old emergency medicine technician David Levine of Rancho Cucamonga, California who walked away with a $495,500 first-place prize (original payout for first was $548,341 and $352,659).
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” he said shortly after the win. “When there were five people left and we were on break, I was down in chips. Even if I busted at that time I was still $150K up, so I felt pretty lucky, I felt good. I knew if I wanted to win it I’d have to use whatever cards that I got, and I was lucky enough to get quite a few good hands. I had a good run. I had some monumental hands that helped me get right back into the tournament.”
Among the hundreds to cash were MSPT Season 7 FireKeepers champ Aaron Massey (83rd - $6,795), 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Champ Richard Bai (108th - $5,505), MSPT Season 5 Running Aces champ Mark Sandness (115th - $5,505), Minnesota’s all-time money leader Blake Bohn (139th - $5,505), MSPT Season 4 Player of the Year Pat Steele (202nd - $4,215), Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Chris Meyers (236th - $3,612).
On Day 3, 29 players fell short of making the final able including Sammy Aweida (11th - $43,007), WPT champ Iaron Lightbourne (12th - $43,007), James Rodriguez (17th - $30,105), Eric Maier (27th - $17,203), Nick Pupillo (29th - $14,622), Mike Del Vecchio (32nd - $14,622), and Phong Nguyen (39th - $12,042).
The first elimination of the final table came when Young Eum shoved his extreme short stack with kings only to fall to Tyreem Williams’ Big Slick when an ace hit the flop. Not long after, Shane Martin moved all in for his last 12 bigs with the 7♥7♣ and was flipping against Owen Crowe’s A♠J♦. The board ran out J♣Q♠5♦A♣Q♣ and Martin had to settle for ninth place.
Derek Wolters was the next to go after four-betting all in with kings and getting called by AP Garza’s ace-queen. An ace on the flop and another on the river sent Wolters out the door in eighth place for $64,511.
It was at that point one of the most interesting hands of the final table occurred. It happened when Ken Rawlinson shoved his last three big blinds all in from the button holding the Q♠3♣ and Felipe Davila three-bet jammed the small blind with the A♣K♣. Williams woke up with the Q♣Q♦ in the big and called off. The board ran out A♦4♦10♣8♣2♣ and Davila scored the double elimination.
Crowe was next to fall when his pocket fives failed to hold against Lavine’s queen-ten of clubs, and Scott Massimiano followed him to the rail when he flopped top pair holding the A♥K♠ on a K♦9♦J♦ flop. Unfortunately for him, Levine had flopped two pair with the K♥J♠ and held when the 8♠ bricked the turn followed by the 7♥ on the river.
After Garza bowed out in third place – the result of his king-eight failing to overcome Davila’s pocket queens – a heads-up deal was struck. Lavine and Davila agreed to each lock up $405,500 and leave $90,000 and the trophy to play for.
Not long into their match, Levine raised to 2.5 million with the K♥9♠ and Davila called holding the K♣10♦. The J♥5♦9♥ flop saw Davila check and Levine bet 2 million. Davila check-raised all in for 26 million and Levine called. Neither the turn nor river changed a thing and Davila had to settle for second place.