The Mid-Stakes Poker Tour (MSPT) Venetian $1,100 Main Event drew 2,790 entries over four starting days, resulting in a $2,692,350 prize pool. After nearly a week of poker, it was 63-year-old Harlen Miller of Bismarck, North Dakota who emerged victorious to take down the title and $367,801 grand prize.
Miller claims to have only started playing poker a few years ago. Since then, he had managed to rack up nearly $200,000 in live-career earnings before the MSPT victory, which included a $75k score from a Venetian Deepstack Senior Event in 2018.
"I skipped my niece's wedding to come play this event," Miller said. "I just had a feeling. At least now I can get her a better wedding present."
Miller, who also said his birthday was last week, now has a meaty six-figure score to his name along with an MSPT Venetian trophy to help celebrate any occasion.
Day 2 started with plenty of notables among the 396 hopefuls looking to make a deep run in the event. Joe Cada and Faraz Jaka were among those who fell short of the money, with Nick Pupillo being the one to burst the money bubble soon after play began. The field continued to decrease at a rapid rate and among those to cash were Shannon Shorr, Mike Dentale, Nadya Magnus, Mike Shin, Michael Rocco, and Catherine Dever — who was the last woman standing in the event.
Day 3 began with just 15 players still in contention and whittled down to a final table shortly after the second level of the day. Aaron Massey was the first to fall after getting all in preflop with queens and losing to the ace-queen of Jimmy Lujan. Lujan, who led the final eight in chips, ended up being the next one out after clashing with Ryan Dodd on a couple of different occasions and losing each time.
Bobby Noel, Thong Tran, and Jonathan Tamayo were all short-stacked heading into the final table and were eliminated in rapid succession soon after.
Matthew Elsby was knocked out after flopping a set and losing to a runner-runner straight of Albert Knafo.
Knafo, who started the day with the chip lead, couldn't hang on and was eliminated in third place by a runner-runner straight after getting all-in preflop with queens against the pocket tens of Dodd.
Heads-up play began with Dodd having a massive chip advantage over Miller. However, after doubling through Dodd on two separate all-in preflop occasions, Miller found himself overtaking the chip lead.
Miller got the job done after getting all in preflop with queens and holding up against Dodd's ace-jack to pull off the improbable comeback.