It started with a $90 super satellite seat, which turned into a $250 qualifier seat, and now Mark Rubenstein, aka Harry Tisdale, has $142,637 in his pocket after winning the Mid-States Poker Tour FireKeepers Casino, a tournament that set a Michigan state record with 614 entries. Rubenstein prevailed over a tough final table that included MSPT sponsored prosNick Pupillo and Jason Zarlenga.
Rubenstein began the day eighth out of the 119 Day 2 runners. Sixty-three would be paid, and the money bubble hit fairly quickly, as is the norm under the Allen Kessler-approved structure in the MSPT. Scott Hammett, Nick Jivkov, Adam Friedman, David Gutfreund, and Brett Reichard were among the players walking away empty handed.
Once the money bubble burst, Mike Ross (59th), Zal Irani (57th), defending champ Ryan Dykhouse (51st), Pat Steele (48th), Adam Lamphere(39th), Jose Serratos (37th), Tom Midena (20th), Ken Baime (16th), Dan Bekavac (15th), and Mark Johnson (13th) were among the notables falling but earning compensation.
Rubenstein made a big move with 12 players left, clashing with Pupillo in a three-bet pot when Rubenstein opened for 125,000 in middle position at Level 26 (20,000/40,000/5,000). Pupillo three-bet to 320,000 in the small blind, and Rubenstein called. The flop brought a monotone Q♠2♠8♠, and Pupillo fired 250,000. His fingers hadn't even left the chips before Rubenstein said he was all in, and Pupillo quickly folded. That pot gave Rubenstein about 20 percent of the chips in play.
The rich only got richer in the last hour before the final table as Rubenstein put together a stack of over 3.8 million, while his closest competitor,Sean Munjal, had just 1.59 million with blinds at 25,000/50,000/5,000. Munjal's position was precarious with everyone besides Rubenstein so tightly bunched, and he ended up going out in 10th after losing a big flip for most of his stack with the 10♣10♥ to Nicholas Aranda's A♠K♣.
Ryan Michael then fell to a brutal beat as his A♦A♥ was outdrawn all in preflop by JC Chen's K♦Q♦ as the latter made a flush. Next out was Tom Theisen in eighth, followed by Chen in seventh when he tried one time too many to crack aces and couldn't catch Aranda with 4♥4♦.
At that point, Rubenstein and Pupillo butted heads in another monster pot, starting with Rubenstein opening the cutoff and Pupillo calling on the button. A 7♦8♣5♦ flop led to a bet of 500,000 and a shove of 1.7 million, with Rubenstein calling with his 9♥9♣. Pupillo was in a bad spot with 4♦4♠ and he failed to find another four. The MSPT team pro has been consistent about making final tables but hasn't been able to finish the deal, as he now has two fifths, two sixths, and a seventh in the past nine months.
Zarlenga looked poised for yet another final table rampage as he busted Jeremy Grable in fifth with the A♥6♣ against the A♣7♥, but a sick beat sent him out next. He got his last 955,000 in on a 6♦A♠6♥ flop with the 6♠5♦, only for William Rogers to bink an ace on the river with the A♣4♦.
From there, Aranda failed to hold with the K♠9♠ against the Q♥J♣ of Rubenstein, who found a jack on the river to go to heads-up play with more than two-thirds of the roughly 12 million chips in play at 50,000/100,000/10,000.
Just a few hands later, a massive cooler developed in a limped pot, with both Rogers an Rubenstein checking a 3♦6♣6♦ flop to see a 10♥ turn. Rogers bet 150,000, Rubenstein raised to 450,000, Rogers came back with 1 million, and Rubenstein immediately shoved. Rogers couldn't get away from his 6♥2♥ and was outkicked by his opponent's A♣6♠. The river brought a 7♦ to give Rubenstein the title. Rogers took home more than $80,000 as a consolation prize.
An exhausted Rubenstein said his dad was going to wake up to a hell of a birthday present.
The MSPT grinders will now get some time off before the biggest event of the season, the $1 million guaranteed tournament at the Venetian in early June. Visit msptpoker.com for more information.