Seneca Niagara Casino: September 15 - 23, 2018


Seneca Niagara Casino - Niagara Falls, NY

September 20-23, 2018

Main Event: 264 Entrants

Young Canadian Pro Veerab Zakarian Wins Inaugural MSPT Seneca Niagara Main Event

The MSPT first-ever visit to New York attracted 264 entrants to Seneca Niagara Casino, and after a full weekend of play, it was 22-year-old Veerab Zakarian of Ontario, Canada that walked away as champion for $63,340.

“I feel pretty good, I didn’t expect to win,” Zakaran said. “It feels pretty good, you know. I just know I ran really good today. I’m just thankful.”

It was a career-high score for the Toronto poker pro. Prior to the win, he had $227,514 in live tournament earnings including a prior best of $40,000 for finishing runner-up in the 2014 Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic Main Event. Other highlights on his poker résumé include $29,394 for finishing third in the 2016 Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic Main Event, $25,000 for winning the 2017 Empire State Hold’em Championships Event #1: $570 NLH, and $21,960 for taking second in the 2018 Lucky Hearts Poker Open Event #6: $1,150 Purple Chip Bounty.

Interestingly, Zakarian is good friends with MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Chris Meyers. In fact, Meyers credits Zakarian for keeping him in the game by encouraging him to stay on the grind during a rough patch. That led to Meyers winning the 2017 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship.

“I’m happy he won and I get to do something he did,” Zakarian said of his win. “He’s talked very nice about me in interviews so now I get to do the same thing.”

On Day 2, 51 players returned to action, but with only 27 of them slated to get paid, nearly half the field walked away empty handed including Scotty Gaddi, Henry Zou, Buck Ramsay, Greg Ostrander, Andy Spears, Dan Wagner, Frank Lagodich, 2017 MNPokerMag POY Todd Melander, and bubble boy Darwin Smith, who fell after a two-hour long bubble.

Among those to finish in the money but fall short of the final table were Day 1B chip leader Maria Parlatore (11th - $4,654), MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Chris Meyers (14th - $3,878), MSPT Season 5 Majestic Star champ Ken Baime (24th - $2,379), and Day 1A chip leader Ilan Kandiah (27th - $2,172).

The final table got off to a quick start with 2018 MSPT Iowa State Poker Champion Brian Soja bowing out when his pocket queens lost a race to ace-king. Not long after, Thomas Smolinski lost his short stack with ace-five to Zakarian’s pocket kings. For Soja, this was his 5th MSPT main event cash and 4th final table (finishing 2nd, 10th, 1st, 10th).

In the very next hand, Zakarian picked up pocket rockets to send Derrick Brown, who got it in with king-ten, out in eighth place. This was Brown’s 2nd MSPT main event cash and 1st final table. Budwey Salhab - earning his 1st mspt cash - followed him out the door in seventh when his ace-jack failed to win a flip against Adam Foster’s pocket nines.

Michigan’s Steve Anderson, the last MSPT regular in the field, was the next to go after shoving king-jack only to have Zakarian once again wake up with aces. That allowed Zakarian to chip up to over half the chips in play. For Anderson, this was his 8th MSPT main event cash and his 4th final table (finishing 5th, 7th, 7th, 6th).

Zakarian then used Big Slick to dispatch Matt Dziomba, who held king-queen, before Paul Butski took care of Day 1C chip leader Aaron Olshan, the result of the former’s ace-queen holding against the latter’s king-queen.

After the elimination of Adam Foster, Zakarian began heads-up play with a 2-1 chip lead over Butski. The duo jostled for a bit before Butski called off holding ace-ten offsuit against Zakarian’s king-queen. Butski held through the flop and turn, but a king on the river put the final nail in his coffin.

Season 9 of the MSPT continues October 6-14 with the 2018 Michigan State Poker Championship at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan. That stop’s $1,100 Main Event, which will run from Thursday, October 11 through Sunday, October 14, is looking to eclipse a million-dollar prize pool for the fourth straight time.


Rank Player Name City State AmountPoints
1 Veerab Zakarian Toronto $63,3401,200
2 Paul Butski Scio NY $39,1691,000
3 Adam Foster Rochester NY $28,181900
4 Aaron Olshan Amherst NY $20,683800
5 Matthew Dziomba Kenmore NY $15,512700
6 Steve Anderson (MI) Clarklake MI $11,893600
7 Budwey Salhab Williamsville NY $9,049500
8 Derrick Brown Mount Clemens MI $7,239400
9 Thomas Smolinski West Seneca NY $5,688300
10 Brian Soja New Brighton MN $4,654200
11 Maria Parlatore Niagara Falls $4,654200
12 Patty Chapin Depew NY $4,654200
13 Kevin Siler West Seneca NY $3,878150
14 Chris Meyers Buffalo NY $3,878150
15 Harp Padda Calgary $3,878150
16 Dietrich Kuhlmann Wheatfield NY $3,335100
17 Patrick Lacy Wallaceburg $3,335100
18 Vince Palma Buffalo NY $3,335100
19 Gregory Miller Corning NY $2,84475
20 Hayden Glassman Rochester NY $2,84475
21 Steven Przybyl Lancaster NY $2,84475
22 Arthur Demmerey Derby NY $2,37950
23 Matt Shanahan Palm Beach Gardens FL $2,37950
24 Kenneth Baime Glenview IL $2,37950
25 Alex Visbisky Cheektowaga NY $2,17250
26 David Battaglia Buffalo NY $2,17250
27 Illan Kandiah Ajax $2,17250

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