Meskwaki Casino: July 21 - 29, 2018


Main Event 129

Meskwaki Casino - Tama, IA

July 27-29, 2018

Main Event: 455 Entrants

Brian Soja Wins 2018 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship, $94,568!


The 2018 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship attracted 455 entries to Meskwaki Casino for Main Event 129. It marked the tour’s 20th stop at the venue dating back to 2012, and after a long weekend, it was Minnesota’s Brian Soja who emerged victorious to capture a $94,568 first-place prize.

“It feels really good to finally get the Meskwaki monkey off my back. I’ve bubbled down here four or five times,” Soja said immediately after the win. “Also, to get the MSPT final table off my back because I’ve made two before. This feels really good right now. I was surprised at how fast it went but when the deck hits you in the face like it did for me, it just solidifies for everyone that I’m a luck box.”

The third time at an MSPT final table proved to be the charm for the 43-year father of two, who had finished 10th and runner-up in prior tournaments at Canterbury Park. It also marked his second big score of the month after he finished runner-up in the $280 NLH Anniversary Event at Canterbury Park for $25,000.

“My wife, Tonya, is amazing. I can’t believe she lets me do this, play a game for money. I have a 13-year-old son, Brady, and an almost 5-year-old son Beckett,” Soja said. “I’ve had a good year, this is my fourth or fifth final table in the last seven months. My wife and I have a plan to retire in the next 15 years, so this will probably just go into the bank to make sure that still happens.”

Day 2 saw 62 players return to action, but with only 54 slated to get paid eight left empty-handed including Mike Lang, MSPT Season 4 Meskwaki champ Andy Van Blair, and bubble boy Shaun Burnett, who lost a flip with pocket fives to ace-ten.

Among those to earn a payday but fall short of the final table were MSPT Grand Falls champ Ahmed Taleb (12th - $6,598), four-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Mark Fink (20th - $4,003), current Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 9 POY points leader Aaron Johnson (29th - $2,375), Run It Up Reno champ Blake Cavanagh (41st - $2,155), and Ryan Phan (45th - $2,155), who is fresh off finishing 11th in the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event for $725,000.

The final table began with all ten players fairly close in chips but it wouldn’t take long for the first bustout. It happened when Ron Amos ran kings smack dab into Steven Seidler’s aces, and not long after John Joachim followed him out the door when his aces were cracked by the pocket tens of Jeff Minnerly.

Soja then got his first knock out when police sergeant Zac Campbell moved all in for his last eight bigs holding the A♦9♦ and Soja called with the A♣K♣. The board ran out Q♣2♠7♣A♥Q♠ and Campbell had to settle for eighth place and $10,997.

Soja then dispatched Alex Winter in seventh place – his king-ten suited holding against queen-four offsuit – and then Kipp Smith fell after getting it in with the A♠4♣ and failing to get there against Soja’s 8♣8♠ on a K♦6♠10♠3♠K♥ run out.

Minnerly, who was playing in his first-ever $1K+ buy-in tournament, busted after running his 9♥9♣ into Soja’s J♦J♠, and then Seidler hit the rail due to a nasty turn card. In Level 28 (30,000/60,000/10,000), Seidler raised to 150,000 holding the 10♣7♥ in the cutoff and Travis Sweet called from the small blind. Soja came along from the big with the J♦8♦ and three players went to the 2♠7♣10♦ flop.

Two checks saw Seidler continue for 150,000 with his two pair and Soja peeled with his gutshot, which he hit when the dealer burned and turned the 9♣. The chips got in and Seidler failed to fill up when the 4♥ bricked the river.

After Sweet, who was just two weeks removed from finishing runner-up in the MSPT Potawatomi Regional Event for $50K, took his leave in third place for $41,874, Soja took a big chip lead into heads-up play against Kevin Berthelsen.

In the final hand of the tournament, Berthelsen jammed with the K♦5♦ and Soja called holding the A♦4♥. The board ran out J♣3♣2♠4♠4♣ and Berthelsen had to settle for second place and $58,104 in prize money.


Rank Player Name City State AmountPoints
1 Brian Soja New Brighton MN $94,5681,600
2 Kevin Berthelsen Omaha NE $58,1041,400
3 Travis Sweet Black River Falls WI $41,8741,300
4 Steven Seidler Hudson WI $31,6691,200
5 Jeffrey Minnerly Madison WI $23,7521,100
6 Kipp Smith Grand Island NE $18,0341,000
7 Alex Winter Roseville MN $14,075900
8 Zac Campbell Memphis MO $10,997800
9 John Joachim Waverly IA $8,357700
10 Ron Amos Quincy IL $6,598600
11 John Reading Rochester MN $6,598600
12 Ahmed Taleb Moorhead MN $6,598600
13 Jonathan Harrington Morgan Hill CA $5,279500
14 Paul Cross Minneapolis MN $5,279500
15 Matthew Roling Irvingdale IA $5,279500
16 Jason Seitz Shakopee MN $4,399400
17 Corey Rasmussen Waterloo IA $4,399400
18 Gabriel Neighbors Grinnell IA $4,399400
19 Joshua Shmerl Wauconda IL $4,003300
20 Mark Fink Sioux Falls SD $4,003300
21 DJ Buckley Eden Prairie MN $4,003300
22 Gary Lambert Quincy IL $3,387200
23 Yashveen Mudireddy Omaha NE $3,387200
24 Joel Klipping Red Lake Falls MN $3,387200
25 Darren Williams Lost Nation IA $2,947150
26 Walter Gardner Topeka KS $2,947150
27 Sean Fabritz Des Moines IA $2,947150
28 Matt Alexander Minneapolis MN $2,375100
29 Aaron Johnson Red Wing MN $2,375100
30 Bill Romer Waterloo IA $2,375100
31 John Pierce Rochester MN $2,375100
32 Greg Asche Parkersburg IA $2,375100
33 Rachel Keele Ankeny IA $2,375100
34 Keith Lutz Chicago IL $2,375100
35 Tyler Oleson Marshalltown IA $2,375100
36 Blaise Poupore West St. Paul MN $2,375100
37 Dan Hamm Des Moines IA $2,15575
38 Josh Meyer Des Moines IA $2,15575
39 Scotter Clark Marion IA $2,15575
40 John Oetker Marshalltown IA $2,15575
41 Blake Cavanagh Lovelock NV $2,15575
42 Brian Zupancich Silver Bay MN $2,15575
43 Brian Weipert Mason City IA $2,15575
44 Aaron Pilger Coon Valley WI $2,15575
45 Ryan Phan Omaha NE $2,15575
46 Jon Midler St. Paul MN $1,97950
47 Phil Mader Grand Island NE $1,97950
48 Mike Rieck Louisiana MO $1,97950
49 Mike Shin Milwaukee WI $1,97950
50 Sam DeSilva Austin MN $1,97950
51 Peyton Smith Eagan MN $1,97950
52 Brian Wika Sioux Falls SD $1,97950
53 Brett Reichard Janesville WI $1,97950
54 Patrick Fleming Bement IL $1,97950

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