The MSPT returned to Majestic Star Casino in the Chicago region for the first time since Season 5 and despite the heavy, local competition, the $1,100 buy-in Main Event attracted 309 entries which eclipsed the largest field of 301 at the property. In the end, Mike Shin of Milwaukee, Wisconsin managed to navigate his way through and walk away with the $68,593 top prize. The win was the second-largest of Shin’s career after the $427,930 he received for finishing 12th in the 2016 WSOP Main Event.
"I feel awesome, man! I don't know what else to say." Shin said about his victory. "I try not to miss these events, especially in this region." Shin, who recorded his seventh career MSPT cash with the victory, admitted that he had a game plan for the final table. "There were a couple of good players at the table, and I was trying to stay away from them. There was a couple of players I was trying to pick spots with and play hands with."
Shin treated his victory humbly, saying, "It feels good, but you treat this as a business, you don't feel like you're hitting a jackpot, it feels like income that you're suppose to have." When asked if he had any advice for players that just hit a big score of their own, Shin said, "Best thing is invest, but if you don't know what to invest in, don't go crazy, hold on to the money. I see people win a big score, and they think it's going to keep happening. It's hard to win one of these tournaments." He also credited his family with helping him be motivated. "Shout out to my brother, my parents, my cousin John (former MSPT champ Hao "John" Sun), especially my brother; he's helped me through a lot."
Day 2 saw 46 players return to the felt, but with only 36 slated to get paid, a few left short of a payday, including Jordan Miller, George Dietz, Jill Bryant, and bubble-boy Daniel O'Connor, who lost a flip to John Nelson to fall one spot short of a cash.
A number of players managed to find a cash before the final table kicked off, including Jeffrey Rasch (11th - $5,040), Jason Mangold (14th - $4,026), Henry Zou (17th - $3,430), Jeff Minnerly (19th - $3,131), former WPT Five Diamond champ Ravi Raghavan (22nd - $2,386), Season 4 MSPT POY Pat Steele (24th - $2,386), Sam DeSilva (25th - $2,177), Michael VanderWoude (33rd - $2,088) and Joshua Hergott (36th - $2,088).
Final Table Action
Ashor Ochana was the first to fall, a result of a squeeze play with his ace-four running into the nines of Mo Nuwwarah. Ochana, who recorded his second MSPT cash, now sits just under six-figures in Hendon Mob recorded earnings after his tenth-place finish.
Daniel Sepiol fell next, after Mike Shin set a trap in the small blind for him with kings, and Sepiol ripped his last fifteen big blinds with jack-six off. Sepiol, who also earned his second career MSPT cash, was looking to best his prior career high cash of $52,655 in 2017.
Local grinder Bryan Skreens then found himself up against Nuwwarah and his nines, and Skreens couldn't find a third six to go with his pocket pair to fall in eighth. Skreens recorded his first MSPT cash to go along with an impressive resume that finds him with nearly a quarter-million in recorded tournament earnings.
Zachery Schneider was the third victim of Nuwwarah, as Schneider's king-nine couldn't hold up to Nuwwarah's king-four when Nuwwarah found a four on the flop. Schneider's first MSPT cash for a seventh place finish goes nicely alongside two WSOP Circuit Rings, including one victory for $302,492.
Matt Weller then found one double up with pocket nines, but his next attempt to double with that same hand found him running into Greg Baird's aces, and Weller was forced to exit in sixth. Along with a 15th place finish at the Season 9 MSPT Denver Poker Open, Weller now holds two deep runs on the MSPT in a three month span.
Brad Oliver lost a massive pot to Mo Nuwwarah just before his elimination in fifth, when his ace-seven couldn't overcome the pocket tens of Jeremy Brown. Oliver made his first MSPT and second career recorded cash count, and the start of Day 2 chip leader was able to parlay his chip lead into a career best payday.
Brown bowed out in fourth after a lengthy four-handed affair, when he ripped king-five into the aces of Shin. Brown's second MSPT final table led to the third biggest cash of his career, which was topped by a runner-up performance in the 2014 - $260 buy-in Queen City Classic in Cincinnati for $61,256.
Baird was the last to go before heads-up play began, as Shin's tens bested Baird's ace-nine. Baird crossed the $200,000 threshold in lifetime earnings with the third-place finish, with this marking the largest cash of his career.
An epic heads-up battle then ensued between Nuwwarah and Shin, with both players coming a card shy of winning the title, but in the last hand, with blinds at 80,000/160,000/20,000, Mo Nuwwarah jammed for 2.4 million from the button and Mike Shin called to put him at risk from the big blind.
Nuwwarah found a little help on the flop, giving him a pair and a gutshot. The on the turn left him drawing to an ace, three or five to survive, but Nuwwarah was left wanting with the on the river.
The $42,349 Nuwwarah received for his runner-up finish was the biggest of his playing career. His previous best was $17,170 for finishing sixth in November’s MSPT Meskwaki. A couple weeks before that, he also shipped a WSOP Circuit ring by taking down a $600 HORSE event for $14,008.