It was a long journey to the finish line at the 2019 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship $1,100 Main Event as 660 entries came out to Milwaukee's Potawatomi Hotel & Casino over three starting days. Seventy-eight returned for Day 2 Sunday, and it took more than 18 levels for a winner to be determined.
Gerald Heath was that winner, coming out on top for a first-place prize of $130,935. Heath agreed after the tournament that it was a long weekend, but had more commentary to add on said weekend: “Best ever for me, man. No doubt."
Day 2 Action
The clock was turned back from the 15 levels that played to completion over the first two starting flights as the final heat reached a hard stop shortly before the end of Level 14. Of the 78 to return, 72 players were set to make it into the money. Play started slowly due to the extended time, and the bubble burst shortly before the end of Level 16 after nearly two full levels of play.
Players dropped quickly at first upon reaching the money, but the pace of play steadied again not long after. It took three more hours for the field to be halved, and Heath rode a small roller coaster through that time. He chipped up from his start-of-day 196,000 to 288,000 in the first couple hours and then won a huge coin flip with ace-king to pocket queens after hitting a king on the river to become one of the chip leaders in the tournament.
However, Heath then lost half his stack and hung around until 15 players remained, scoring another double through Li Shen. Meanwhile, other players such as Yao Yin, Josh Reichard, and Wai Ngai all began leading charges to eclipse 2 million in chips.
The Final Table
When the final table was reached, Heath was seventh in chips with just under 1 million. Gary Herstein quickly found a double with two jacks, getting stacks in preflop against Reichard’s tens. Shortly thereafter, short-stacked Alin Cotolan also doubled but found himself bounced from the tournament a half-hour later in 10th place.
Play continued to progress slowly with small pots being the norm, and stacks evened out as the blinds continued to escalate. It was another hour before Luke Goodwillie would bow out at the expense of Heath, and nearly another hour passed by from there before Paul Camby and Shen were eliminated in short succession.
When six-handed play began, Heath had pulled away as the chip leader. Yin was the next to be eliminated after folding down to one big blind, and play went on with more small pots that led to all five remaining stacks pulling nearly even. Nearly 90 minutes later, Reichard took fifth place when he shoved jack-ten into Ngai’s ace-seven. He flopped a ten on a board that also gave Ngai a gutshot straight draw, and he turned another ten to leave Ngai with four outs. However, one of those outs hit on the river to knock out the former MSPT champion.
Another full level then went by, bringing the average stack in the tournament to only 15 big blinds with no significant pots played. Then came the turning point in the tournament; Heath and Nicola Ditrapani had both pulled away from Ngai and Herstein a bit, and the two chip leaders got stacks in the middle on a king-five-four flop with two hearts. Ditrapani had queen-ten suited for a flush draw and Heath held a set of fives. Heath held and found himself with a huge chip advantage.
Some back-and-forth action went on between the now-three small stacks, with Herstein being the next one to bust. Ten minutes later, Heath knocked out Ngai and entered the heads-up match with all but three big blinds worth of chips in play. It wasn’t long before Ditrapani got his last chips in with jack-nine, only to run into Heath’s queen-jack. No help came and Heath claimed the title.
When asked about what he is going to do with the money, Heath said he is going to pay a few bills and help his kids.The win was Heath’s second victory of the year, saying he took down a tournament recently for around $16,000.
“It’s been a good year.”