Over the weekend, the 2018 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship attracted 748 entries to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. That surpassed the 701 entries from the 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship to become the largest major poker tournament ($1K+ buy-in) in state history.
In the end it was 27-year-old Brett Halan, a logistics account manager from Naperville, Illinois, who finished as the last player standing for $144,812. It marked the third year in a row a player from Illinois walked away with the MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship title.
“It feels great, honestly it really does. The cards ran great, that’s all I could ask for,” Halan said after the win. “I usually play in the smaller tournaments, this was a big one. I tried to get it in good as best as I could. When I did it seemed to hold up every time.”
Halan, who said he plans to spend some of his winnings on family and friends, wasn’t about to rest on his win. In fact, he had to work just a few hours after capturing one of the Midwest’s most prestigious titles.
“I’ll be in at 5 a.m., I’m committed. It’s my job,” he said.
Prior to the win, Halan had a single MSPT cash of $1,204 for finishing 58th in the 2017 MSPT Potawatomi Hotel & Casino $350 Regional Event. His prior best score was a modest $4,413 for winning the 2015 WPTDeepStacks Chicagoland Event #16: $250 NLH.
Day 2 saw 114 players return to action, but with only 81 getting paid, 33 would leave empty handed including current MSPT Season 9 Player of the Year points leader Aaron Johnson, WSOP Colossus II champ Ben Keeline, WPT champ Keven Stammen, and bubble boy Michael Hudson.
Among those to finish in the money but fall short of making the final table were Rob Wazwaz (15th - $8,689), MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Alsup (16th - $7,241), Day 1C champ Ravi Raghavan (17th - $7,241), 10-time WSOPC ring winner Josh Reichard (20th - $6,082), 2015 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Champ Ben Wiora (23rd - $5,141), Day 1A chip leader Joe McArthur (28th - $3,186), the red-hot Nick Pupillo (35th - $3,186), three-time MSPT champ Blake Bohn (44th - $2,679), and the start-of-the-day chip leader Byron Ziebell (73rd - $2,027).
At the final table, it took 42 hands for the first player to fall and happened when Josh Hergott – making his 2nd MSPT Main Event final table – moved all in with ace-five only to run it into the ace-queen of Josh Janis. He was followed out the door by Minnesota’s Sam “Sammy Whammy” De Silva, who lost a flip with jacks to Andre Haywood’s Big Slick suited. For De Silva, this was his 9th MSPT Main Event cash and 4th Final Table.
Joe Freeman then dispatched Joe Pusateri when ace-queen held against jack-ten suited, and Larry Wagner took his leave after he shoved ace-ten suited and failed to get there against Haywood’s two black kings.
Haywood then notched his third final table knockout after picking up ace-queen and holding against Janis’ ace-ten. Unfortunately for Haywood, his momentum came to a screeching halt and he was next to go after shoving queen-eight suited and getting called by Jeff Cvetezar’s pocket nines.
Ed Rohloff exited in fourth place when his ace-seven was outdrawn by Freeman’s ace-four all in preflop, and then the eventual champ finished off the final two players beginning with Cvetezar. It happened in a big pot where Halan turned straight and flush draws and called the shove of Cvetezar, who held pocket rockets. Halan spiked his flush on the river and Cvetezar, the last player from Wisconsin standing, had to settle for third place and $65,165 in prize money.
“I got lucky. I definitely didn’t think he has aces,” Halan said of the hand. “I thought I had a ton of outs. I had the spade outs and it just happened to hit.”
The heads-up match between Halan and Freeman was a back-and-forth affair with each holding the chip lead on more than one occasion. Eventually, Halan whittled down his opponent and claimed the title when Freeman bluffed all in on the flop. Halan called with flopped trips and Freeman was drawing dead.