Five hundred entered, and only Reza Yazdi remained at the end of one of the biggest Mid-States Poker Tour events in history held at Golden Gates Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado. Yazdi claimed a $120,765 prize for first place, besting a very tough Day 2 field that featured players likeKevin "1sickdisease" Eyster, Blake Bohn, Matt Kirby, Kou Vang, John Hayes, John Beauprez, and Adam Friedman, among others. Yazdi adds to a tally of $33,919 in live cashes, nearly all coming here in his home state.
The biggest story to come out of the tournament, though, was the return of Kevin "Phwap" Boudreau to the ranks of a big final table. Boudreau's story has been chronicled in part by PokerNews here and here. The short version: Boudreau suffered a life-threatening brain injury during last year's World Series of Poker, and his recovery has apparently progressed enough that he can compete and thrive in a tournament like this one.
With his rail cheering him on and a swell of support on social media, Boudreau grinded his way to the chip lead at the final table as late as four-handed play. There, he had the tournament in his grasp when he three-bet an under-the-gun open from Yazdi and then called Yazdi's four-bet shove of about 50 big blinds. Yazdi's 8♣8♦ was crushed by Boudreau's 9♠9♥, but a run out of 4♠4♦8♠K♣4♥ gave Yazdi his two-outer and 80 percent of the chips in play, leaving Boudreau with just a handful of big blinds. He busted soon after.
A total of 104 survivors showed up at 11 a.m. to contend on Day 2, and 54 would leave with a portion of the prize pool. Eyster was among the early eliminations when he squeezed all in with the A♣Q♣ against a cutoff open from Blake Bohn and a shove from a short stack on the button. Bohn held the A♥K♠ and held against Eyster. Alex Greenblatt, Will Givens, Jason Zarlenga, Chris Tryba, Ralph Massey, and former WSOP Main Event runner-up Paul Wasicka also fell short of the money.
Once the bubble burst, Boudreau took hold of the chip lead for the first time when he three-bet with the K♠K♣ and called the four-bet shove of fellow big stack Jon Wurden, who had the J♥J♦ and saw Boudreau flop a winning boat.
Friedman, Vang, Kirby, Bohn, Steve Anderson, Mike Ross, and Ben Keeline were among those collecting payouts before exiting. With the field dwindling down towards the final table, Hayes shoved over a raise from button Shawn Sandt with the 6♠6♣ and got snapped by Sandt's A♣K♣. Sandt flopped a king to bust "JohnnyGstaks," and Troy Pabst busted soon after to make the final table official.
Yazdi held a sizable lead at that point, while Boudreau was sitting in ninth with a short stack of under 20 big blinds. When play kicked off, Boudreau first doubled up by winning a race against Michael Lech, and he then busted Jason Vanstrom in 10th, calling a 10-big blind shove with the 6♥6♦ and winning against the 5♥5♠.
Boudreau's hot run continued on a 7♦5♠3♦ flop during Level 27 (25,000/50,000/5,000), at which point Yazdi continuation-bet 200,000, Geoff Vailshoved for 805,000, and "Phwap" woke up with another shove. Yazdi mucked, and Boudreau's set of fives held against the A♠6♣.
Shawn Sandt then fell in eighth and Michael St. John in seventh. Lech was next to go when his K♦Q♦ didn't improve after three-bet jamming on Boudreau's 10♠10♣. Bracelet winner Beauprez was eliminated in fifth after shoving about 16 big blinds with the A♣5♥ in the blinds against a huge open from Max Chrisp, who called with the A♦7♦ and held.
The pace picked up greatly four-handed, with Boudreau, Chrisp, and Yazdi ramming and jamming, exchanging the chip lead between them whileWistar Holt appeared to bide his time and allow the others to do battle. Instead of eliminations, though, short stacks continued to double up, including an incredible run by Chrisp from a stack of 70,000 at Level 31 (60,000/120,000/20,000). He managed to run it up to nearly 2 million by the time the massive confrontation between Yazdi and Boudreau went in Yazdi's favor. Boudreau put in the last of it with the 3♠3♣ and lost a race to Holt's A♥J♦.
Chrisp and Holt then took turns doubling through Yazdi until stacks were nearly even. Finally, after losing a big pot with two pair when Holt outdrew him with pocket aces, Chrisp busted with the A♦9♦ against the A♣K♠.
Heads-up play lasted just 15 minutes, until Holt check-jammed the 8♣7♠ on a 10♦4♣6♦ flop, only to be snapped off by the K♦K♠ of Yazdi. Holt missed his double-gutshot, giving Yazdi the tournament.
The MSPT isn't taking any time off, heading immediately to the Belle of Baton Rouge for another event. Once again, PokerNews will be on hand for live reporting, so tune back in when the time comes.