The MSPT Season 8 finale $1,100 Main Event at Canterbury Park attracted a record 493 entries, which surpassed the spring event (475 entries) as the largest major poker tournament ($1K+ buy-in) in Minnesota history.
By the time the stop wrapped, 32-year-old poker pro Ben Marsh finished as the last player standing for $102,493 and his second MSPT title. Marsh, who way back in Season 2 won the MSPT Treasure Island for $40,071, became the ninth player in tour history to win multiple titles.
“I am feeling pretty great,” said Marsh, who spends most of his time playing online. “I haven’t played a ton of live poker this year and didn’t have any luck when I did. This is only my second tournament since the WSOP in Las Vegas.”
All told, Marsh now has four MSPT final tables, two wins, and seven cashes totaling $189,438.
“The tour has grown so much,” Marsh said when asked about the six-year gap between wins. “When I won the first time, first place was only $40K. Everyone involved with the tour has done a great job growing the events. Now they’re tournaments that you can’t miss. I think in general poker is a lot tougher these days.”
A Streak Falls, Final Table Action & More
Among those to make the trip to the Minnesota venue were 2016 MSPT Michigan State Poker Champion Brett Blackwood, MSPT first-timer and poker Twitter legend Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers, and Joe Matheson, who saw his streak of cashing every MSPT season come to an end when he fell on Day 1B.
Matheson’s failure to cash in Season 8 means Kou Vang, Matt Kirby, Dan “DQ” Hendrickson and Jeremy Dresch are the only four players in the world to have cashes each and every season of the MSPT.
On just the third hand of the final table, James Huynh fell after getting his short stack all in preflop holding the K♦J♦ and failing to get there against the A♣K♣ of Thomas Wu. Former champ David Gonia was next to go after his A♥9♦ didn’t hold against the A♦8♦ of 2017 Minnesota State Poker Champ Jon Hanner, who rivered a flush.
Marsh then got his first elimination of the final table when he defended his big blind against Vlad Revniaga’s short-stack shove in the small blind. Revniaga got it in good with the K♦9♦ but was bested by Marsh’s Q♣10♦ after a 10♥Q♦8♣4♠10♣ runout.
Norberto Santamaria followed him out the door in seventh place – the results of his A♦3♣ failing to get there against the 7♥7♣ of Rob Wazwaz – and then Osama “Sammy” Aweida, the only player at the final table not from Minnesota, hit the rail when he ran A♥J♣ into the A♦K♥ of Marsh.
Brian Berthiaume exited when he ran pocket jacks into Wu’s queens, and then Wazwaz fell shortly after losing most of his chips holding A♠Q♠ to Wu’s K♣K♦. Not long after, Marsh won a crucial flip against Wu, the former’s 2♣2♦ making quads against the latter’s K♣10♣.
Wu, the Day 1B chip leader, took his leave in third place after getting it in with the A♥4♥ against Hanner’s A♣Q♣ after an 8♣7♣10♣3♣8♦ runout.
Hanner and Marsh entered heads-up play near even in chips, but before long Marsh pulled out to a healthy lead. In the final hand of the tournament, which took place in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), Hanner raised to 330,000 with the A♠K♣ and Marsh defended holding the 10♥9♣.
The 9♠4♣K♠ flop saw Hanner continue for 300,000, Marsh called, and the dealer burned and turned the 9♥. Marsh led out for 330,000 with trips, Hanner called, and the 5♠ fell on the river. Marsh moved all in and Hanner hesitantly called off his remaining 1.395 million.
“There are a lot of really good players in Minnesota, a lot of them at this final table,” Marsh said after the win. “Jon Hanner is a great player, I just got some cards and things went my way.”
Chris Meyers Wins MSPT Season 8 POY
With 27 players remaining in the tournament, everyone was guaranteed 200 POY points on the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year leaderboard. That meant Buffalo, New York’s Chris Meyers, who sat atop the leaderboard with 3,350, was guaranteed to bring his total up to at least 3,550 points. No other player in the field could catch him, so he locked up a $10K prize package.
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 last month’s 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. He ultimately finished MSPT Canterbury Park in 15th place for $5,721 and 400 POY points to bring his winning total up to 3,750 points.
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.
In addition, poker tax specialists Kondler & Associates, CPAs will provide the MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year with free tax services for the 2017 tax year ($800 value). This includes preparation of all tax forms (1040, 1099, etc.) as well as year-long tax planning and guidance.
“Chris’ back-to-back final tables in the two largest tournaments ever held in Michigan was a remarkable feat,” said MSPT President Bryan Mileski. “After those two strong performances, he set his eyes on the prize and chased POY among stiff competition. Players like Keith Heine, Sammy Aweida, and ‘Big’ Al Hedin certainly gave him a run for his money.”
Congratulations to Chris Meyers on winning the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year!