The Mid-States Poker Tour’s 127th Main Event – a $1,600 buy-in, $3,000,000 GTD tournament held at The Venetian in Las Vegas – attracted 2,877 entries. After three long days of play it was Malaysia’s Michael Soyza who came out on top to win $588,249, the biggest first-place prize in MSPT history.
Prior to the win Soyza had $1,271,288 in live earnings including a prior best $260,552 for winning the Macau Poker Cup 27 High Roller back in September. Soyza previously sat fifth on Malaysia’s all-time money list but moved into fourth place with his new career-high score.
“Very long day, I started in the middle of the pack but ran really hot the first level,” the 28-year-old Soyza said after the win. “I had aces against kings, jacks against nines, and tens against eights. I just played my game and ran pretty damn well at the end.”
Soyza, who is in Vegas grinding the entire summer, continued: “Last year was my first World Series, it wasn’t that great but not that bad. This is so much better.”
The tournament also saw Minnesota’s Rich Alsup finish in third place for $273,430. The score brought the MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year’s tour earnings up to $611,460, which puts him atop the MSPT’s all-time money list. It was also his record-tying ninth MSPT final table, which means he is just one away (or four more Main Event cashes) from being inducted into the MSPT Hall of Fame.
The tournament played through the money on Day 2, which saw a long list of notable players finish in the top 297 and get paid. They included Jeremy Ausmus (57th - $8,700), Darryll Fish (61st - $8,700), Marvin Rettenmaier (64th - $8,079), Elio Fox (73rd - $7,457), Phil Laak (81st - $7,457), WSOP bracelet winner John Reading (104th - $5,800), MSPT Poker Bowl I champ Jordan Young (157th - $5,179), Aaron Johnson (226th - $3,936) and Lisa Costello (269th - $3,729).
On Day 3, 41 players return to action. Among those to fall short of the final table were Jason Song, (11th - $49,715), two-time MSPT champ Greg Himmelbrand (19th - $29,829), Minnesota’s Sam De Silva (31st - $14,500), Luke Vrabel (32nd - $14,500) and MSPT Season 8 Grand Falls champ Ahmed Taleb (41st - $11,186).
Final Table Action
The first final table elimination came when Hye Park moved all in for 3.28 million from the button holding the A♠5♠ and Paul Fisher called off for 1.8 million after looking down at the J♣J♦ in the big blind. Fisher was ahead but fell behind on the 6♥A♥Q♠ flop. Neither the 5♥ turn nor 9♠ river helped Fisher and he headed to the payout desk in tenth place to collect $49,715.
Ryan Yu, who began Day 3 as the chip leader, had a rough go of it at the final table and finally succumbed after shoving all in with ace-five only to run into Alsup’s ace-king. Not long after, Bulgaria’s Ivaylo Sivinov three-bet jammed his ace-eight only to run it smack dab into Soyza’s ace-queen. The board ran out clean and that was all she wrote for Sivinov.
Soyza then dispatched three-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner Peter Vitantonio in seventh place after the latter shoved the button with the K♣5♣ and the former called from the big blind with the A♥4♣. The board ran out A♣9♦7♥3♣Q♦ and Vitantonio missed his flush draw to bust in seventh place for $103,572.
David Chen exited in sixth place when his ace-ten suited failed to win a flip against Soyza’s pocket sevens all in preflop, and then Park followed him out the door in fifth when he too lost a race. He jammed with ace-queen and was up against Soyza’s pocket fives. A five on the flop was a disaster for Park and he was left drawing dead on the brick turn.
Soyza’s run good continued when he called Glen Nguyen’s shove holding pocket sixes. Nguyen had him crushed with sevens but a six on the turn gave Soyza another K.O. and the chip lead.
That left Alsup on the short stack and he’d soon tangle with Saderne, who led most of the final table. In Level 36 (200,000/400,000/50,000), Saderne raised to 900,000 with the A♣Q♦ and then called when Alsup three-bet shoved for 11 million holding the Q♠J♠. The board ran out lackluster 2♦8♥8♣K♣K♠ and Alsup bowed out in third place for a career-high $273,430.
Soyza and Saderne began heads-up play nearly even in chips and they briefly discussed a deal. However, they were unable to come to terms and opted to play it out straight up in true MSPT fashion.
“We talked about a deal but he said he thought he had an edge and wanted more money,” Soyza explained. “I had more chips and he thinks he has an edge. He didn’t have a good grasp on my game I guess but I had a pretty good grasp on his game.”
From the get-go, things went Soyza’s way and he opened up a big lead.
In the final hand of the tournament, which took place in Level 38 (400,000/800,000/100,000), Saderne jammed for 10.4 million with the 10♣9♠ and Soyza called holding the Q♦J♣. The 5♠A♦Q♥ gave Soyza a huge lead, but the K♣ turn kept Saderne drawing live. The dealer burned one final time and put out the 8♠. Saderne was eliminated in second place for $364,573 while Soyza captured the richest first-place prize in tour history!
The MSPT Venetian continues at Noon Monday with Day 1A of the $3,500 buy-in, $3.5 million GTD tournament. Flights 1B and 1C will take place at the same time on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. MSPT live updates will begin on Day 2 and once again the final table will be live streamed worldwide.