The 2017 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship at FireKeepers Casino was once again a record-setting affair. For the second time in 2017, the tournament eclipsed a $1 million prize pool and became the largest poker tournament ever held in Michigan.
The 1,067 entries (244 on 1A, 406 1B, and 417 1C) beat the spring record by a single player, and it was set in just three flights without the use of unlimited re-entries nor “best stack forward.” Speaking of the spring tournament, Buffalo, New York’s Chris Meyers was there, ultimately finishing in fifth place for $42,333.
Meyers, a 35-year-old married poker pro, returned for the 2017 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship and found redemption by taking down the title, good for a career-high $191,196.
“I feel good,” Meyers said after the win. “I’ve put in a lot of work honestly. This was on my list, to win a MSPT. I made the final table last time, came up a little short. I thought I played well last time, and I ran really well this time to get it done. When you run good at a certain casino, you feel comfortable, like it’s meant to be. I had a good feeling about this one.”
Not only that, Meyers earned 1,900 points on the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year leaderboard, which along with the 1,400 he earned in the spring brought his total up to 3,300 with four stops to go. His next closest competitor is Keith Heine with 2,967 points.
When asked if he’ll be going for the POY title, he didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely. I’m going to hit as many as I can.”
As for the prize money, Meyers plans on making a pit stop on his drive back to Buffalo.
“I’m going to hit up Cleveland,” he said. “My plans include the Cavs opener on Tuesday. I’m going to upgrade my seats a little bit. We’ll see how close we can get to the court.”
Day 2 saw 191 players return to action, but of those only 108 were slated to get paid. Among those to fall short of the money were two-time MSPT champs Jason Zarlenga and Blake Bohn, MSPT Maryland Live! winner Greg Himmelbrand, and former champ Aaron Massey, who missed out on making his fourth MSPT FireKeepers final table in a row.
After Steven Stout bubbled in 109th place – the result of his Big Slick suited failing to get there against the pocket nines of Dave Cronk – the in-the-money finishes came quick. Among those to walk away with a prize were last year’s runner-up Cy Church (106th - $2,170), 2016 MSPT Iowa State Poker Champ John Sun (97th - $2,274), defending MSPT Michigan State Poker Champ Brett Blackwood (91st - $2,274), 2016 World Series of Poker Circuit Horseshoe Hammond Main Event champ Dylan Linde (79th - $2,584), Day 1A chip leader Nick Bogus (50th - $3,204), Day 1B chip leader Dan Underhill (37th - $3,514), and MSPT Season 4 Player of the Year Pat Steele (27th - $5,891).
Likewise, Day 1C chip leader Jeff Mackey exited in 20th place for $8,475, and not long after Mike Shanahan followed him out the door in 18th. Back in May, Shanahan won the record-setting MSPT FireKeepers for $216,829. Thanks to another deep run, he earned 700 POY points, which vaulted him into third place on the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Leaderboard with 2,700 points.
Here’s how things stacked up at the start of the final table:
Seat 1: Djon Palushaj (Oakland, MI) 990,000
Seat 2: Spencer Wright (Jeddo, MI) 2,235,000
Seat 3: Santa Zawaideh (Birmingham, MI) 920,000
Seat 4: Jerry Delisle (Hazel Park, MI) 4,100,000
Seat 5: Chris Meyers (Buffalo, NY) 4,470,000
Seat 6: Altaf Motiwala (Kalamazoo, MI) 2,315,000
Seat 7: James Miller (West Olive, MI) 530,000
Seat 8: Millard Hale (Kalamazoo, MI) 2,415,000
Seat 9: Brian Reinert (Atlanta, GA) 2,215,000
Seat 10: Jake Reeser (Davison, MI) 1,165,000
Meyers began the final table as the big stack, and in the very first hand he extended it by looking down at pocket aces and getting it all in against Spencer Wright, who held pocket queens. The aces held and Meyers was on his way.
Two hands later, the last woman in the field, Santa Zawaideh, hit the rail, and just a few hands after that James Miller fell to Millard Hale, who turned right around and eliminated Djon Palushaj.
With six players left, Brian Reinert got it in with king-jack only to run into the king-queen of Hale. The kicker made the difference and Reinert, who was only in town on a business trip, finished in sixth place for $38,239.
Meyers then flopped a set of fours to dispatch Jake “The Snake” Reeser, who had flopped top pair. Next to go was Jerry Delisle who opted to call off with king-queen after Hale had four-bet with aces. They held and Hale closed the gap between him and Meyers.
Altaf Motiwala’s elimination in third place – the result of calling off with top pair of queens to Meyer’s disguised runner-runner wheel – set up an entertaining heads-up match filled with big hands.
Hale managed to take over the chip lead briefly, but eventually Meyers regained it and whittled him down. After 70 hands at the final table, things came to a head when Hale flopped top pair and Meyers turned two pair. The chips went in and Hale, a World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner, missed the river, which meant he had to settle for second place and a $117,818 consolation prize.