Canterbury Park: April 21 - 29, 2018

Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400

Day 1A of the latest MSPT Canterbury Park $1,100 Main Event drew a record 259 entries, which was the largest opening flight in 16 stops. That puts us on pace to eclipse 500 runners for the first time in MSPT Canterbury history!

After 14 levels of play, the field was whittled down to 41 players with three-time MSPT champ and his stack of 299,000 leading the way. Back in Season 6, Carodenuto won the season finale at Canterbury Park for $116,103.

He returned in April 2016 and defended his title for $90,805, and as if that wasn’t impressive enough, he took down the MSPT Golden Gates that same season for $114,072 to make MSPT history. Only time will tell if Carodenuto can win an unprecedented fourth title.

Others to bag big stacks were Rob Wazwaz (293,500), MSPT Season 7 Canterbury Park champ Jon Kim (284,500), Steve Houle (261,000), and Alan Jeevanathan (214,000), who round out the top five.

Joining them at the end of the night were Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Chris Meyers (204,000), Thao “Scratch” Thiem (177,000), MSPT Season 5 Ho-Chunk champ Jason Sell (162,000), Flop the World’s Ben Valder (115,500), current MSPT POY points leader Aaron Johnson (115,000), MSPT Season 8 Running Aces champ Jeff Birt (110,500), MSPT Season 2 Canterbury Park champ Kou Vang (92,000), Minnesota Poker Hall of Famer Tony Hartmann (67,000), and two-time MSPT champ Johnny Hayes (53,000).

Not everyone was fortunate enough to find a bag. Among those to play and fall on 1A were three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Dutch Boyd, 2016 MN Poker Mag Player of the Year Saad Ghanem, and poker couple Tom and Sherry Hammers.

Likewise, a slew of former MSPT champs hit the rail including Max Young (MSPT Season 9 Golden Gates), Joe Matheson (MSPT Season 1 Running Aces), Blake Bohn (two-time champ), Jeremy Dresch (two-time champ), Luke Arora (MSPT Season 7 Running Aces), Josh Reichard (MSPT Season 4 Ho-Chunk), Dan “DQ” Hendrickson (MSPT Season 6 Canterbury Park), and Max Havlish (MSPT Season 8 Meskwaki).

Those players and any newcomers will have the opportunity to fire on Day 1B, which will kick off at 4 p.m. local time on Saturday. That is when the members of the UCCS Mountain Lion Poker Club will be in action. We’ll capture it all here in the live blog, so be sure to join us then.

Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400
Carl Carodenuto Bloomington, MN 299,000
Rob WazWaz Minneapolis, MN 293,500
Jonathan Kim Minneapolis, MN 284,500
Steve Houle White Bear Lake, MN 261,000
Alan Jeevanathan Chanhassen, MN 214,000
Gregory Stoker Hopkins, MN 208,500
Chris Meyers Buffalo, NY 204,000
Victor Hoffman Onslow, IA 197,500
Scott Sitron Henderson, NV 190,500
Thao Thiem Robbinsdale, MN 177,000
Josh Smith (IA) Bettendorf, IA 168,000
Jason Sell Plymouth, MN 162,000
Donovan Gilbert Brooklyn Park, MN 136,500
Nathan Lohmer Stillwater, MN 136,500
Brian Zupancich Silver Bay, MN 133,000
Dean Kaflowitz Edina, MN, 129,500
James Wilson Minneapolis, MN 123,500
Robert Mitchell Salt Lake City, UT 120,000
Chris Keller Bismark, ND 116,000
Benjamin Valder Minneapolis, MN 115,500
Aaron Johnson Red Wing, MN 115,000
Jeffrey Birt Bloomington, MN 110,500
Steven Jungmann Libertyville, IL 106,000
Alexander Truog Independence, WI 102,500
Kou Vang Maplewood, MN 92,000
Michael Anderson Mora, MN 87,500
Griffin Malatino Fort Lauderdale, FL 84,500
Steve Alonzo Beloit, WI 79,000
Joe Maas Edina, MN, 75,500
Chris Jones St. Paul, MN 75,500
Luke Struck Shakopee, MN 71,500
Tony Hartmann Minneapolis, MN 67,000
Darren Hendrickson Faribault, MN 66,000
Richard Stevens Shakopee, MN 65,000
Michael Lutgen New Prague, MN 65,000
Suprena Kretchman Minneapolis, MN 57,500
John Hayes St. Paul, MN 53,000
Daniel Kinney Plymouth, MN 49,500
Brad Cohen Faribault, MN 48,000
Adam Frank St. Cloud, MN 33,500
Neil Patel St. Louis, MO 33,000
Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400

The tournament staff just announced the remaining players will play four more hands before bagging and tagging on Day 1A. Stay tuned for a list of chip counts as well as a recap of the day’s action.

Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400
Rob Wazwaz

When we happened upon Table 2, there was 30,000 in the middle and a board reading . David Abramowicz had 6,000 out in front of him in the big blind and Rob Wazwaz, who was under the gun, had 30K in front of him.

We’re not sure what happened in between, but we do know that Abramowicz moved all in for a little less than 120K and Wazwaz, who barely had him covered, made the call.

“You have the straight?” Wazwaz asked.

Abramowicz indicated he didn’t and showed the . He was drawing dead as Wazwaz held a set with his , which turned into a full house on the river.

Rob Wazwaz - 250,000 (104 bb)
David Abramowicz - Busted

Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400
Josh Smith

A player raised to 6,000 from UTG+1, and Iowa’s Josh Smith three-bet to 12,500 from early position. A player cold-called in the hijack, and the UTG+1 player came along as well.

The flop was checked by the UTG+1 player, and Smith continued for 16,500. The hijack tanked for a bit, then released his hand, and the UTG+1 player followed suit a short time later, giving the pot to Smith.

Josh Smith - 120,000 (50 bb)

Level:14   Blinds: 1200 / 2400   Ante:400

Player NameChip CountPreviousProgress
Jonathan Kim270000250000
Carl Carodenuto235000260000
Chris Meyers210000200000
Gregory Stoker210000240000
Aaron Johnson192000200000
Brian Zupancich150000120000
James Wilson130000100000
Jason Sell12500045000
David Abramowicz116000120000
Steve Alonzo113000165000
Benjamin Valder11000085000
Rob WazWaz11000090000
Darren Hendrickson10000080000
Kou Vang980000
Suprena Kretchman7200090000
Josh Smith (Iowa)7000080000
Jeffrey Birt5800055000
Richard Alsup4500067000
Gerald Cunniff00

Level:13   Blinds: 1000 / 2000   Ante:300

Action folded to David Abramowicz (pictured left) in the small blind and he raised to what looked like 6,000. Daniel Kinney (right) responded by moving all in for 38,100 from the big and Abramowicz gave it some thought before calling.


Kinney got it in good and held when the board ran out a safe .

Daniel Kinney - 80,000 (33 bb)
David Abramowicz - 80,000 (33 bb)

Level:13   Blinds: 1000 / 2000   Ante:300
Three-time MSPT champ Carl Carodenuto
Mickey Stuefen
Donovan Gilbert
Michael Lutgen
Nathan Lohmer

Level:13   Blinds: 1000 / 2000   Ante:300

A year ago, Buffalo New York’s Chris Meyers, who is in action here on Day 1A of the MSPT Meskwaki (his first-ever visit to Iowa), gave strong consideration to leaving the poker world behind. Like so many grinders, he was worn out wondering if and when his time would come. With some encouragement from a friend, he decided to give it one more shot in 2017, and now he’s the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year.

“I’m at Turning Stone playing a $500 tournament,” the 36-year-old Meyers explained of that fateful decision to persevere. “On the Day 2 dinner break, I told my friends that I was thinking about exiting poker as a career. My friend, Veerab Zakarian, who is the most confident kid I know, looked at me and told me to give it one more year. I went on to chop that tournament heads up and here we are one year later.”

We caught up with Meyers, known to Buffalo locals as “Jersey Chris” for his multitude of sports jerseys, shortly after December’s MSPT finale at Canterbury Park. It was there, with 27 players remaining, that everyone was guaranteed 200 POY points. At the time, Meyers sat atop the leaderboard with 3,350, and given he was still in contention, it meant his total would be at least 3,550 points.

No other player in the field could catch him, so he locked up POY honors and accompanying $10K prize package even before he busted in 15th place for $5,721 and 400 POY.

“It was bittersweet,” said Meyers. “I came into the tournament wanting to win that tournament. I couldn’t think of the POY. I was really disappointed to bust, but a couple days later the accomplishment of winning the Player of the Year sunk in. I’m glad it came down to the wire with Keith Heine and some other guys. Competition is great.”

In Season 8, Meyers had three cashes coming into the final stop. In May, he placed fifth out of 1,066 entries – then a Michigan state record – in the MSPT FireKeepers for $42,333. Five months later, he returned to the venue and topped a record field of 1,067 entries to win the 2017 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship for $191,196. His third cash, which was $2,375 for finishing in 62nd place, came in the 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Long Road to Winning

Growing up, Meyers learned to play poker with friends. Around the time the “Poker Boom” hit, Meyers discovered online poker and before long, he ran up a respectable bankroll. However, he soon experienced the roller-coaster ride that is poker. Those highs and lows, coupled with some consequences catching up to him, saw Meyers’ life take an unexpected turn.

“I had a troubled childhood you could say,” says Meyers. “I was in some detention homes, definitely not close to the life I live now. I got in trouble with the law, and ended up going to jail for a year and a half. When I got home, all I had was $5,000 in my PokerStars account. The life I lived before was behind me – I’m never going back to that – but poker was still there.”

Upon his release around 2009, Meyers turned his life around. He stopped flirting with the law, married his longtime girlfriend, and decided to take poker more seriously. He grinded out a living, but then April 15, 2011 hit.

“I was a winning player for a while online,” says Meyers. “I had my up and downs, and then Black Friday happened. I started playing live, but had to go find work. I got back to it seriously again in 2013.”

Adapting to Live Play

Chris Meyers late on Day 1A.

Living just a short drive from the Canadian border, Meyers contemplated heading north to continue his online endeavors. However, given Canada’s strict crossing requirements and his checkered past, he thought better of it.

Instead, he decided to turn his attention to live cash games. In 2016, he added tournaments to his schedule and wound up making $174,059, including the $28,396 in the aforementioned $500 event at Turning Stone.

Reinvigorated, Meyers hit 2017 hard. In addition to what he did on the MSPT, he also finished fifth in the Hollywood Poker Open Columbus Main Event for $17,480, won the Seneca Niagara Fall Poker Classic Event 37: $300 Pot-Limit Omaha for $5,639, and placed 290th out of 18,054 entries in the World Series of Poker Colossus III for $4,418.

All told, Meyers won a career-high $508,463 playing tournament poker in 2017, although he hopes to beat that this year. He plans on playing a full schedule at the 2018 WSOP, including some $10K and $25Ks thanks to investors, and will be at most MSPT stops thanks to the POY prize package he won.

For winning the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year, Meyers will be awarded four MSPT Main Event Season 9 seats ($4,400 value) to be used at events of his choosing, a seat into the MSPT Venetian summer event with $400 toward travel costs ($1,500 value), and $250 at each Main Event stop he attends up to $4,250.

“I think it’s possible to be the first back-to-back MSPT POY if I play all the events,” he said. “Right now, I’m planning to play them all with the exception of maybe Black Hawk, Colorado. Winning it again is going to be a goal of mine.”

Keys to Success

When asked what factors have allowed him to find success, Meyers snaps off three – God, healthy living, and his wife.

“The foundation of my life, any accomplishment, any success including the POY, is a direct result of my relationship with Jesus Christs and my foundation of the Bible and church,” said Meyers. “Everything comes from that. It’s by the grace of God I’m where I’m at considering the mistakes I’ve made in my life and that I have the opportunity to play poker professionally.”

As for healthy living, for Meyers it’s both mental and physical.

“The biggest difference between poker for me now and then is the mental game,” he offered. “That’s led to me developing so much more discipline in my life in general, including poker. I was just playing too long and making poor decisions.”

He continued: “Being healthy starts with discipline and good habits. I need that, I need structure in my life, and it directly contributes to my poker success. Healthy living in number two for any success that I have.”

Finally, Meyers admitted he couldn’t have done it without his loving wife, who is often the one to provide him that much-needed structure.

“I’ve always been the risk taker and she’s always been the responsible one,” he said of his wife, a bank manager who shies away from playing poker. “She’s proud of me in a quiet way. She’s very conservative. She keeps me in check, she doesn’t want me to get a big head. It’s great because I need that.”

As for the MSPT stop he’s most looking forward to in Season 9, that’s easy.

“There’s something about that place,” he said with a smile. “I felt something special about FireKeepers the first time I went there. It felt like a good one. That place has been great to me. Things just sort of work out sometimes. It’s kind of surreal to be honest.”

You can follow Meyers on his newly-created Twitter account @JerZ716.

Level:13   Blinds: 1000 / 2000   Ante:300
Aaron Johnson

Greg Stoker raised to 4,000 from the cutoff and Aaron Johnson, who currently sits atop the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 9 Player of the Year leaderboard, three-bet to 14,600 from the small blind. Wisconsin’s Steve Alonzo called from the big blind, Stoker put in the additional 10,600, and it was three-way action to the flop.

Two checks saw Stoker bet 25,000 and only Johnson called to see the turn.

Both players checked and action repeated itself on the river.

Johnson tabled the and it was good as Stoker sent his hand to the muck.

Aaron Johnson - 200,000 (100 bb)
Greg Stoker - 240,000 (120 bb)

Player Name City State Country Chip Count Progress
Carl Carodenuto Bloomington MN United States 299,000 299,000 
Rob WazWaz Minneapolis MN United States 293,500 293,500 
Jonathan Kim (MN) Minneapolis MN United States 284,500 284,500 
Steve Houle White Bear Lake MN 261,000 261,000 
Alan Jeevanathan Chanhassen MN 214,000 214,000 
Gregory Stoker Hopkins MN 208,500 208,500 
Chris Meyers Buffalo NY United States 204,000 204,000 
Victor Hoffman Onslow IA 197,500 197,500 
Scott Sitron Elk River MN 190,500 190,500 
Thao Thiem Robbinsdale MN 177,000 177,000 
Josh Smith (IA) Bettendorf IA 168,000 168,000 
Jason Sell Plymouth MN 162,000 162,000 
Donovan Gilbert Brooklyn Park MN 136,500 136,500 
Nathan Lohmer Stillwater MN 136,500 136,500 
Brian Zupancich Silver Bay MN 133,000 133,000 
Dean Kaflowitz Edina MN United States 129,500 129,500 
James Wilson Minneapolis MN 123,500 123,500 
Robert Mitchell Salt Lake City UT United States 120,000 120,000 
Chris Keller (ND) Bismarck ND 116,000 116,000 
Benjamin Valder Minneapolis MN 115,500 115,500 
Aaron Johnson Red Wing MN United States 115,000 115,000 
Jeffrey Birt Bloomington MN 110,500 110,500 
Steve Jungmann Libertyville IL 106,000 106,000 
Alexander Truog Independence WI United States 102,500 102,500 
Kou Vang Maplewood MN United States 92,000 92,000 
Michael Anderson Mora MN 87,500 87,500 
Griffin Malatino Fort Lauderdale FL 84,500 84,500 
Steve Alonzo Beloit WI 79,000 79,000 
Joe Maas Corcoran MN 75,500 75,500 
Chris Jones (MN) St. Paul MN United States 75,500 75,500 
Luke Struck Shakopee MN United States 71,500 71,500 
Tony Hartmann Minneapolis MN 67,000 67,000 
Darren Hendrickson Faribault MN 66,000 66,000 
Richard Stevens Shakopee MN 65,000 65,000 
Michael Lutgen New Prague MN United States 65,000 65,000 
Suprena Kretchman Minneapolis MN United States 57,500 57,500 
John Hayes St. Paul MN United States 53,000 53,000 
Daniel Kinney Plymouth MN United States 49,500 49,500 
Brad Cohen Faribault MN 48,000 48,000 
Adam Frank St. Cloud MN United States 33,500 33,500 
Neil Patel St. Louis MO 33,000 33,000 
David Abramowicz Sunfish Lake MN United States 0 Busted 
Gerald Cunniff St. Paul MN 0 Busted 
Tom Hammers Burnsville MN 0 Busted 
Robert OConnell Minneapolis MN 0 Busted 
Bill Criego Prior Lake MN 0 Busted 
Andy Beberg Stillwater MN 0 Busted 
Aalok Arora Arden Hills MN 0 Busted 
Charles Workman Savage MN 0 Busted 
Scotter Clark Marion IA 0 Busted 
Dan Hendrickson Faribault MN United States 0 Busted 
Gary Ewald West Fargo ND 0 Busted 
Max Havlish Coon Rapids MN 0 Busted 
Sherry Hammers Burnsville MN 0 Busted 
Vladimir Revniaga Burnsville MN 0 Busted 
Brian Berthiaume Cottage Grove MN 0 Busted 
DJ Buckley Eden Prairie MN 0 Busted 
Joseph Barnard St. Paul MN 0 Busted 
Saad Ghanem Bloomington MN 0 Busted 
Mario Hudson St. Paul MN 0 Busted 
Loki Abboud Mendota Heights MN 0 Busted 
Umut Ozturk Saint Paul MN 0 Busted 
Jeremy Dresch Fridley MN United States 0 Busted 
Ahmed Taleb Moorhead MN 0 Busted 
Josh Reichard Janesville WI United States 0 Busted 
Justin Cole Colorado Springs CO 0 Busted 
Thomas Tracy Apple Valley MN 0 Busted 
Luke Mernin Robbinsdale MN 0 Busted 
Alex Moua Lake Elmo MN 0 Busted 
Keith Wright Evergreen CO 0 Busted 
Ryan Remington Gillette WY 0 Busted 
Hank Mlekoday Minneapolis MN 0 Busted 
George Shabatura Plymouth MN 0 Busted 
Jason Seitz Shakopee MN 0 Busted 
Jay Philips East Bethel MN 0 Busted 
Erick Wright Shoreview MN 0 Busted 
Trish Hazard Sturgis SD 0 Busted 
Eric Eelkema Brooklyn Park MN 0 Busted 
Vic Peppe Corcoran MN 0 Busted 
Dutch Boyd Las Vegas NV 0 Busted 
Blake Bohn Eden Prairie MN United States 0 Busted 
Joe Matheson Andover MN 0 Busted 
Max Young Seaside OR 0 Busted 
Sam DeSilva Austin MN 0 Busted 
Steve Wazwaz Brooklyn Park MN 0 Busted 
Rank Player Name City State Country AmountPoints
1 Rob WazWaz Minneapolis MN United States $109,3751,600
2 Blake Bohn Eden Prairie MN United States $67,2031,400
3 Peyton Smith Eagan MN United States $48,4301,300
4 Brian Zupancich Silver Bay MN $36,6281,200
5 Tom Stambaugh Nevis MN $27,4711,100
6 Robert Mitchell Salt Lake City UT United States $20,8581,000
7 Ryan Hartmann Minneapolis MN United States $16,279900
8 Barbara Sargent Fort Worth TX United States $12,718800
9 Vlad Tkachuk Ukraine $9,666700
10 Rob Maier Little Canada MN $7,631600
11 Jonathan Kim (MN) Minneapolis MN United States $7,631600
12 Josh Smith (IA) Bettendorf IA $7,631600
13 Scott Sitron Elk River MN $6,105500
14 Alex Winter Roseville MN $6,105500
15 Eric Hehr Minneapolis MN United States $6,105500
16 Zach Cheatum Savage MN United States $5,087400
17 DJ Buckley Eden Prairie MN $5,087400
18 Drew Schulz Littleton CO $5,087400
19 Michael Joyce St. Paul MN United States $4,629300
20 Steve Houle White Bear Lake MN $4,629300
21 Jeff Petronack Hugo MN $4,629300
22 Kou Vang Maplewood MN United States $3,917200
23 Alan Jeevanathan Chanhassen MN $3,917200
24 Joe Maas Corcoran MN $3,917200
25 Chris Carlson (MN) Minnetonka MN United States $3,408150
26 Justin Cole Colorado Springs CO $3,408150
27 Chris Jones (MN) St. Paul MN United States $3,408150
28 Larry Beilfuss Milwaukee WI $2,747100
29 Nathan Lohmer Stillwater MN $2,747100
30 Chris Meyers Buffalo NY United States $2,747100
31 James Wilson Minneapolis MN $2,747100
32 John Hayes St. Paul MN United States $2,747100
33 Victor Hoffman Onslow IA $2,747100
34 Chris Keller (ND) Bismarck ND $2,747100
35 Osama Aweida Broomfield CO United States $2,747100
36 Dan Favreau Montrose MN $2,747100
37 Jason Sell Plymouth MN $2,49375
38 Hugo Dvalle St. Paul MN United States $2,49375
39 Michelle Day Prior Lake MN United States $2,49375
40 Aslan Sahin Turkey $2,49375
41 Matthew Hamilton Minneapolis MN $2,49375
42 Thao Thiem Robbinsdale MN $2,49375
43 Mark Wadekamper Lonsdale MN $2,49375
44 Jeff Taylor Eden Prairie MN $2,49375
45 Aaron Johnson Red Wing MN United States $2,49375
46 Steve Jungmann Libertyville IL $2,28950
47 Reg Powell Elk River MN $2,28950
48 Bharathan Pulluvallil Eagan MN $2,28950
49 Adam Frank St. Cloud MN United States $2,28950
50 Curtis Anderson Provo UT United States $2,28950
51 Dan Hendrickson Faribault MN United States $2,28950
52 Marvin Donaldson Kansas City MO United States $2,28950
53 Donovan Gilbert Brooklyn Park MN $2,28950
54 Cody Espeseth Hopkins MN United States $2,28950


Level Info
Level 14
Blinds 1,200 / 2,400
Ante 400
Players Info
Entries 259
Players Remaining 41
Average Chip Stack 126,341
Total Chips 5,180,000
Top 10 Chip Count
Rank Player Name Chip Count
Carl Carodenuto 299,000
Rob WazWaz 293,500
Jonathan Kim (MN) 284,500
Steve Houle 261,000
Alan Jeevanathan 214,000
Gregory Stoker 208,500
Chris Meyers 204,000
Victor Hoffman 197,500
Scott Sitron 190,500
10  Thao Thiem 177,000
Season Top 10 POY Points
Rank Player Name Points
Aaron Johnson 5,117
Blake Bohn 4,400
Kou Vang 3,900
Alex Winter 3,650
Richard Alsup 3,100
Greg Himmelbrand 2,750
Osama Aweida 2,600
Adam Friedman 2,350
Pavel Plesuv 2,250
10  David Levine 2,200
Full Listing

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