The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) returned to Battle Creek Michigan for the FireKeepers Casino Main Event and the turnout didn't disappoint.
The $1,110 buy-in, $1,000,000 GTD Main Event was one to remember as a total of 2,471 entries (580 from Day 1a; 895 from 1b; 996 from 1c) were tallied, which blasted passed the venue’s previous best field of 2,409 last October.
After two long days of action, it was none other than MSPT Hall of Famer Kou Vang who out-dueled three-time bracelet WSOP winner Dash Dudley to emerge victorious to claim his third MSPT title along with a career-best $314,145 first-place prize.
“Feels great”, the MSPT Hall of Famer said after his victory.
“This is the reason why we play the game is to get life changing scores like this”, Vang continued, “I play the game to provide for my family the best I can, and 300k should go a long way.”
With 252 slated to get paid, a few handfuls of players needed to exit before players reached the money. Among those to leave empty-handed were David Martin, Abbas Haidar, and Marshal Alexander-White to name a few.
Only one level needed to pass before a double elimination would occur to burst the bubble leaving the remaining players in the money.
After the bubble burst, the march to the final table began. Among those to fall along the way, albeit with a payday were, Anthony Sedlak (11th - $29,463), Mike Suggs (20th - $17,007), MSPT champ Umut Ozturk (29th - $11,019), and MSPT Hall of Famer Josh Reichard (33rd - $8,623).
Once players took their seats at the final table, it didn't take long for action to kick into gear after Edward "Edub" Dixon's flopped set of fours was flushed out on the river by Rober Strunk.
Shortly after Dixon's departure, Strunk continued by dropping Ray Ezzie with a made hand of tens against king-nine off.
Next was Austin Thieleman, who fell victim to the soon to be champ’s raising terror and James Wilson fell victim to Vang as well shortly after in sixth place for $76,652.
With five players remaining, Melissa Bartelme decided to get her stack in the middle with a suited ace-seven but was unable to crack Dudley's pocket tens and made her departure in fifth place for $97,252.
Four-handed play went didn't last very long after George Abi-Zeid jammed into Vang's flopped straight and was left short only to make an exit in fourth place for $126,955 the very next hand.
Three-handed action saw Dudley hold the chip lead, but Vang closed the gap after winning a race against Strunk dropping him in third place for $162,885.
From there, the heads-up match proved to be a battle as the chip stacks were evenly matched until Vang started to chip away at Dudley to take a commanding chip lead.
After another level passed, the two got stacks all in preflop with Dudley’s holding a suited ace-six against while Vang held a queen-jack.
Both players connected with the flop with Vang getting the best of it and Dudley was unable to pull ahead as he made his exit in second place for $257,145 while Vang earned his third MSPT title and payday good for $353,311.
This wraps up our coverage of yet another record-breaking tournament so make sure you join us next weekend when we make our way back to Deadwood, South Dakota for it's $1,110 SD State Poker Championship at the Silverado Hotel & Gaming Complex May 19th - 21st!