$

Awarded to date

Potawatomi Casino

November 12 - 20, 2016
Main Event: 596 Entrants
Winner: Alex Aqel
recap_icon

EVENT RECAP

Potawatomi Hotel & Casno - Milwaukee, WI

November 18-20, 2016

Main Event: 596 Entrants

Alex Aqel Wins Second-Largest Major Poker Tournament in Wisconsin History; Takes Down MSPT Potawatomi for $138,385

The MSPT Potawatomi Hotel & Casino $1,100 buy-in Main Event attracted 596 entrants (269 Day 1a & 327 1b), which made it the second-largest major poker tournament ($1,000+ buy-in) in Wisconsin history behind the Spring 2015 MSPT Potawatomi, which drew 635 entrants.

After three days of play, Chicago’s Alex Aqel, 32, emerged victorious to capture a $138,385 first-place prize. Aqel began Day 2 second in chips, and it didn’t take him long to assume the chip lead. Amazingly, he held it all the day and used it to navigate all the way to the end.

“I want to say I played amazing, but it wasn’t that hard to play,” said Aqel, who is engaged to be married this summer. “Tournament poker is swingy. Anything can happen. I just got really fortunate in a lot of spots. Deserving to win the tournament, no I don’t buy into that. Everyone else who played this tournament deserved to win it just as much as I did.”

Prior to the win, Aqel, who plays poker part time while being invested in a tech firm with his brother, had $51,642 in tournament earnings with his prior best cash being $11,989 for a runner-up finish to tour regular Ron Kruk in the 2013 World Series of Poker Circuit Horseshoe Hammond $365 NLH Turbo. The victory in Milwaukee marked Aqel’s first MSPT cash.

Day 2 saw 111 players return to action, each looking to claim their portion of the $596,000 total prize pool, which was nearly triple the advertised $200K GTD. However, with just 54 players slated to get paid, more than half the field would leave empty handed including Wisconsin State Poker champ Andy Rubinberg, Iowa State Poker champ John Sun, and poker pro Kou Vang, just to name a few.

Once Gabriele Patti fell as the bubble boy in 55th place, the in-the-money eliminations came at a steady pace. Among those to leave with a payday were 2016 WSOP 12th-place finisher Mike Shin (48th - $2,306), author of Positively Fifth Street Jim McManus (44th - $2,595), two-time MSPT champ Jeremy Dresch (41st - $2,595), and MSPT Season 6 champ Rich Alsup (40th - $2,595).

The weekend before, Alsup finished runner-up to Carl Carodenuto in the MSPT Golden Gates Main Event. As such, Carodenuto took over the top spot on the MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year leaderboard with 3,800 points while Alsup was close behind with 3,600.

Alsup could have tied Carodenuto here in Milwaukee had he finished 28th-36th place, but unfortunately he was ousted in 40th for 100 POY points. That cut the gap separating them in half with one stop to go in the season.

Others who cashed but ultimately fell short of the final table were Tom Hammers (33rd - $3114), MSPT Potawatomi Regional champ Vinh Tran (26th - $3,979), WSOP bracelet winner John Reading (24th - $3,979), and the last two Minnesotans in the field Jason Seitz (12th - $9,226) and Rob Wazwaz (11th - $9,226).

Aqel began the final table as chip leader, and in the very first hand he eliminated Randy Perkins, who had been second in chips. Perkins tried to bluff Aqel, but it didn’t work as the eventual champ called down with pocket queens.

“He just fired. I thought he had at least tens or jacks,” said Aqel of the hand. “I was really surprised to see king-jack. I was really fortunate to win that.”

That gave Aqel a huge chip lead, and to make things even sweeter he ran pure, especially when he picked up aces twice at the same time Dan Stickel and Scott Obst held kings and tens respectively. That resulted in two eliminations and even more chips.

In between, Colorado’s Eric Maier exited in eighth place after losing ace-four to Kyle Kramer’s ace-eight. A short time later, the most accomplished player at the final table, World Poker Tour champ Ravi Raghavan, also busted to Kramer in similar fashion.

Aqel would go on to bust three of his remaining four opponents including Jill Bryant, who began the day as the overall chip leader but had to settle for third place. Aqel began heads-up play with a big chip lead over Derek Dunifer, and it proved to be a lengthy affair. In the end, Dunifer was never able to capture the chip lead and ended up finishing as runner-up for $82,168.

result

The RESULTS

Rank
Player Name
City
State
Amount
Points
1
IL 
$138,385
1,600
2
WI 
$82,168
1,400
3
Aurora 
IL 
$53,626
1,300
4
WI 
$37,192
1,200
5
WI 
$27,966
1,100
6
IL 
$21,623
1,000
7
WI 
$17,587
900
8
CO 
$14,416
800
9
IL 
$11,532
700
10
IA 
$9,226
600
11
MN 
$9,226
600
12
MN 
$9,226
600
13
IL 
$6,977
500
14
IL 
$6,977
500
15
IL 
$6,977
500
16
WI 
$5,190
400
17
IL 
$5,190
400
18
IL 
$5,190
400
19
MN 
$3,979
300
20
WI 
$3,979
300
21
IL 
$3,979
300
22
MI 
$3,979
300
23
MA 
$3,979
300
24
MN 
$3,979
300
25
WI 
$3,979
300
26
Aurora 
IL 
$3,979
300
27
MI 
$3,979
300
28
Verona 
WI 
$3,114
200
29
WI 
$3,114
200
30
IL 
$3,114
200
31
IL 
$3,114
200
32
IL 
$3,114
200
33
MN 
$3,114
200
34
WI 
$3,114
200
35
IL 
$3,114
200
36
IL 
$3,114
200
37
WI 
$2,595
100
38
WI 
$2,595
100
39
WI 
$2,595
100
40
MN 
$2,595
100
41
MN 
$2,595
100
42
WI 
$2,595
100
43
IN 
$2,595
100
44
IL 
$2,595
100
45
IL 
$2,595
100
46
IL 
$2,306
50
47
IL 
$2,306
50
48
WI 
$2,306
50
49
WI 
$2,306
50
50
MI 
$2,306
50
51
MI 
$2,306
50
52
WI 
$2,306
50
53
WI 
$2,306
50
54
IL 
$2,306
50