The latest MSPT Golden Gates Main Event attracted 469 entries to Black Hawk, Colorado, marking the ninth MSPT Main Event ever held at the property. In the end, 33-year-old poker pro Max Young emerged victorious to capture a $97,810 first-place prize.
“I feel pretty good, not gonna lie,” said Young, “It’s been awhile, I’ve been on a little dry spell the past few months. The year started off great and then I just couldn’t put anything together, so it feels pretty good to have a big result that turns my year around.
Young, who fired one bullet in the tournament and bagged the Day 1A chip lead, is a well-known pro throughout the country. Prior to the win, he had $648,217 in live tournament earnings. That includes three World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring wins (he’s already got a seat locked up in August’s Global Casino Championship) and a Parx Casino Big Stax XXII victory for $120,930. Now he’s got an MSPT title on his résumé.
“The structure is good, you get a 20K starting stack, and it’s well run,” Young said of the MSPT. “All the people I’ve met are great. I only have good things to say. I’m traveling the circuit a lot, just trying to find events within my buy-in range that I think I’ll do well in. The MSPTs are right there, I like them a lot.”
Day 2 saw 61 players (14 from 1A, 19 from 1B, and 28 from 1C) return to action, but with 54 getting paid, seven players needed to leave empty handed before the money was made. Among those to fall short of a payday were Paul Holder, Jesse Worrell, and bubble boy David Johnston.
Among those to leave with a cash were Aaron Thomas (54th - $2,047), Phil Mader (49th - $2,047), Keith Block (36th - $2,457), Day 2 chip leader Nader Wahdan (25th - $3,048), last woman standing Svetlana Martie (21st - $4,140), former MSPT Golden Gates Regional Event winner “Money” Mike Maruna (19th - $4,140), Dash Dudley (17th - $4,549), and Danny Gonzalez (13th - $5,459).
The final table began with Bryan Robinson holding the chip lead with 1.805 million, though four others players had over seven figures. Aaron Frei was the first to go after he open-shoved a flop holding the A♣J♣ only to get called by the A♥Q♦ of Wyoming’s Jeff Heiberg. Neither the 8♦ turn nor K♠ river helped Frei and he was sent to the rail in tenth place.
A double elimination saw both Daniel Sochacki and Adam Friedman, who both fell to Young. It happened when Friedman raised holding the A♣10♣ and Young just flatted. The short-stacked Sochaki then three-bet all in for 315,000 with the 3♠3♥ and Friedman four-bet jammed. Young snap-called with his A♥A♦ and held after the board ran out 6♠5♦7♥K♠Q♥.
Ironically, Friedman had nearly eliminated Young when they were down to the final two tables. Friedman got it in with nines against Young’s jacks and flopped a nine. Young was extremely short after that.
“I kept getting hands against Friedman,” Young explained. “I was on his left so it looked like I was targeting him, but I usually had it. Losing that hand was crushing because I thought that was my chance. I was left with less than 10 big blinds. I managed to come back and things started to go my way, especially at the final table. Monster hands came to me and I smashed everything.”
WSOP Colossus II champ Ben Keeline, who came straight to Golden Gates after a one-week vacation on Tokyo, Japan (he literally flew back and came straight to the venue to late register Day 1C) was next to go after first losing king-jack to queens, and then the rest with tens to ace-jack. Keeline earned $14,558 for finishing in seventh place.
Young then eliminated Ian Sylvester after turning two pair against the latter’s pocket kings, and Robinson followed him out the door in fifth when he jammed his short stack holding the Q♣4♠ on the button and getting called by Sammy Aweida and his K♣8♦. Robinson took the lead on the A♦7♦Q♠ flop but the running J♣ turn and 10♠ river gave Aweida a winning straight.
Young extended his chip lead by eliminating seven-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Vincent Moscati in fourth place. It happened when Young raised and Moscati defended his big blind to see a Q♣5♣10♣ flop. Moscati check-shoved with the Q♦9♦ only to discover Young had flopped a flush with the 8♣6♣.
From there, Young applied pressure on the short stacks. Aweida made a stand with the K♥J♠ only to run smack dab into Young’s A♣K♣, which sent him packing in third place for $43,309.
The heads-up match between Young and Heiberg didn’t last long as the former held 95% of the chips in play. In the final hand of the tournament, Heiberg jammed the button with the A♦3♥ and Young called with the A♠Q♥. The board ran out J♣A♣K♦8♥5♥ and Heiberg finished as runner-up for $60,097.