Accomplished local player Kane Lai banked $101,365 for winning the 2015 Mid-States Poker Tour Golden Gates Main Event. Lai added to a career tournament résumé with a smidge under $400,000 in cashes and received his first six-figure score for topping a field of 409 entries.
Lai entered the final table with a hefty chip lead and completely dominated play, holding more than half of the chips when things got down to eight-handed action. His win came against a very tough final table that included Kevin "Phwap" Boudreau and MSPT Pro Nick Pupillo.
A sizable Day 2 field of 88 runners took to the felt after three Day 1 flights, with Lai sitting below average at 98,000 coming into Level 16 (2,000/4,000/500). A couple of heavy hitters, MSPT Team Pro Blake Bohn and World Series of Poker bracelet winner Will Givens, fell before the money was reached, as only the top 45 would be paid. Once the bubble burst, Boudreau began mounting his charge, surging to a 2 million-chip stack while other top stacks were barely clearing 1 million. Nothing would stop him navigating to a second straight final table at MSPT Golden Gates after his fourth-place finish in November.
Lots of notables collected payout tickets short of the final table. Bryan Devonshire, who has millions in live and online cashes and made a deep run in last year's WSOP Main Event, busted 36th. Current MSPT Player of the Year points leader Mark Hodge added yet another cash (his fourth of the season) when he finished 35th. Danny Gonzales (33rd), start-of-the-day leader Jay Robb (30th), and Travis Northrope (25th) also added to their bankrolls.
A turning point happened when Lai got all in and at risk for about 1.5 million in a four-bet pot with Boudreau during Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000). Lai held AxJx and managed to spike a jack on the turn against Boudreau's 10x10x. When Gene Gioia and Andreas Ramadanis busted in simultaneous hands in that same level, a final table of nine headed for dinner break with Lai at 3.5 million and Boudreau his closest competitor with 2.3 million.
Lai kept it rolling by busting Wally Printz in ninth before another huge pot with Boudreau went his way. Lai called three barrels from Boudreau on a 10♦A♦6♠10♥8♣ run out, who had raised under the gun and showed the 9♦6♦ for a pair and flush draw on the flop that didn't improve. Lai had the A♣Q♠ and about half of the chips in play eight-handed at that point.
Next to fall was Travis Maly in eighth, then Boudreau, who couldn't seem to win a key hand at the final table, called off 10 big blinds against a Pupillo small-blind shove. Pupillo's A♠5♠ turned Boudreau's K♥Q♣ dead to finish him in seventh. Pupillo had climbed to second from a low point of less than five big blinds, but then he got picked off by Lai on a four-bet jam with the A♥Q♠ against the A♣K♠.
Tyler Corbett then busted Danny Dang in fifth with the A♥K♥ when he rivered an ace against two black kings. When Lai outran Darek Spring to send him packing in fourth, he had about 10 million of the roughly 12.2 million in play, making the win look like a foregone conclusion. The short stacks then went to war as Jon Cohen jammed from the small blind with the K♦6♦ only to have Corbett wake up with the K♥Q♦ and hold.
That set up one of the more lopsided recent heads-up matches on the tour, with Corbett outchipped about 10-1. A few hands in, he put in his five big-blind stack with the A♥J♥ only to see Lai pick up the A♠Q♥ in the big blind. A run out of 3♥10♦7♠9♥5♦ later and a new MSPT champ was crowned. Corbett settled for $58,515.
The MSPT returns in about two weeks to Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa. PokerNews will once again be providing live coverage, and we hope to see you there.
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