The MSPT 2023 season kicked off strong with the $1,110 MSPT Sycuan Main Event holding its second biggest event ever run in this location. A total of 613 entrants gave their best shot at the MSPT glory, but by the time Day 2 started, the field had been whittled down to 73.
When the dust settled at the end of the day, it was Jason Mendoza who took down the event for his first MSPT victory and biggest lifetime score of $102,823. “It feels great to get this monkey off my back,” said after his win, “for so long, chasing that six-figure score, all that run bad for all these years finally paid off.” Mendoza has been playing poker seriously for 15 years, and his prior Hendon Mob cashes totaled up to just over $100,000. With this new score, he has nearly doubled his lifetime earnings as well as taken the lead in the MSPT 2023 season.
“It’s the folds that make the tournament,” he said, recalling a hand where he folded second set on a ten high board when an opponent four-bet all in for his entire tournament life. “If I make that call, I don’t win,” he said as his opponent later confirmed he had a set of tens. He and his wife left the tournament area shortly afterwards, with a brand new trophy to his name.
It did not take long for the bubble to burst. Terry Favish became the unfortunate last player to not receive a payout when his queens could not hold up against the king-two of Rich Alsup. The remaining 63 players all guaranteed themselves $2,254. Play then continued in a fast and furious way, with many notable names falling by the wayside.
With 16 players remaining, there were three MSPT champions still remaining and looking for their second title. It was Rich Alsup (15th- $7,117) who fell first when his set of fives was rivered by Thomas Kornecook’s set of kings. After that Adam Friedman(12th-$8,897) found himself all in and at risk with ace-queen against the ace-ten of Alexei Racila. A ten on the flop spelled the end for Friedman, leaving only one MSPT champion left. Kyna England (10th-$8,897) lost the majority of her chips in a race with ace-king against the jacks of Alexei Racila, with the final blow coming when she moved in her remaining chips with jack-six suited against Kornecook’s ace-jack. With her elimination, the final table was reached.
Final Table Action
The Final table started off with a bang, with Racila doubling up three players almost immediately and falling down the counts. It was short stack Rigoberto Rodriguez found himself all in with ace-king against Jonathan Frisch’s king-queen and a queen on the flop and turn spelled the end for Rodriguez and his run. He and his Baymax card protector exited the tournament in ninth place for $11,269.
Scott Storrt was the next one to get it in ahead, when he called Thomas Kornecook’s all in with the shorter stack. Kornecook held queen-jack, and Storrt held ace-jack. A queen on the turn spelled the end for Storrt and his impressive finish in eighth place was rewarded with $14,325.
Finishing in seventh place for $18,386, was Haiqing Li who called off his tournament life with jacks against the king-seven of Jason Mendoza. All seemed well until the river which gave Mendoza three sevens. Li wished the table good luck and his impressive spin from start of day short stack ended at the final table.
Thomas Carlin began the final table with the second shortest stack, but through careful navigation, he managed to ladder up a few spots. He too would fall to Mendoza when his straight draw and flush draw did not come home against Mendoza’s top pair, and he took hom $23,724 for his efforts in sixth place.
On a ten, nine, five board, Jonathan Frisch check-raised all in with a pair of sixes and despite thinking about it for some time, called with king-nine, having flopped a pair of nines. No backdoors or sets were able to hit the board and Frisch’s run ended in fifth place for $31,435.
Corey Peeples also fell to Kornecook shortly afterwards when he moved all in with ace-high and two overcards on the turn and Kornecook called with top two pair. No counterfeiting two pair came home on the river and Peebles finished his impressive run in fourth place for $41,518.
Three-handed play began with the final three players striking a deal which secured each of them $77,000, meaning first place would be worth $102,823. All three started off even in chips, but Thomas Kornecook got in all of his chips with ace-nine suited against the ace-jack of Mendoza. Not enough improvement was found for Kornecook and he finished the tournament in third place of $77,000.
Heads up play started with Mendoza holding a 2:1 chip lead over Racila, but that quickly vanished when double up put them basically neck in neck. The match continued, both sides suffering rough blows. In the end it was Mendoza getting in his final chips with a flopped pair of queens against Racila’s flopped pair of nines. No help was found for Racila and his next hand he had only enough to pay the blind and ante. He could not win that blind flip and Alexei Racila, took home his best lifetime score of $77,000 for his runner-up finish.
Congratulations to Jason Mendoza on his incredible victory. Thank you for all who joined us on the kickoff of the 2023 MSPT season, and make sure to join us next time in Black Hawk Colorado. All of this and more, only on msptpoker.com.