The 2015 World Series of Poker isn't the only game in town. From June 1-5, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) was in town for their second-ever stop at The Venetian. The tournament boasted a $1 million guarantee, but that was nearly doubled as a whopping 1,964 entrants turned over three starting days to create a prize pool of $1,964,000.
The tournament attracted some of the biggest players in the world, including Spanish powerhouse Sergio Aido and Season XII World Poker Tour World Champ Keven Stammen. Those players finished in sixth and second place respectively, while the title and $215,815 first-place prize went to 25-year-old Angelina Rich, who became the first woman in history to win a MSPT title.
"I heard I was the first woman to win, which is incredible," Rich told PokerNews. "They told me someone had gotten third, so once we were five-handed I thought I needed to get to at least third."
Rich never had a chance to get to third place, because with four players remaining a deal was struck based upon chip counts. David Lee of Memphis, Tennessee locked up $160,407 for fourth place, up from the original payout of $106,292; while David Mowery of Delavan, Wisconsin took $167,417 for third, up from $141,078. Stammen managed to lock up $199,635 for his runner-up finish, while Rich got the official title along with the trophy by virtue of holding the chip lead (by quite a large margin)
Notable finishes: Martin Finger (12th - $25,123), Blake Bohn (29th - $7,537), Poorya Nazari (52nd - $5,218), Mike Deis (53rd - $5,218), Matt Salsberg (70th - $4,058), and Jake Cody (71st - $4,058)
Prior to the win, Rich had just $41,281 in live tournament earnings, with her biggest cash being $27,224 for winning the 2015 Aussie Millions Event #12: A$1,650 No-Limit Hold'em Bounty back in January. While she calls Seattle home, Rich actually cut her poker chops in the land down under.
"I've only been playing for a year and a half now, so not very long at all," said Rich. "I had friends who played professionally who I went to high school with, and they were living in Australia at the time. I had just graduated from college with a fashion degree and I kind of just wanted to do something else. I went to Australia to live with them for a year, and I just planned on getting a job in the fashion industry, something like that, but they just encouraged me to play poker. I got super envious of them traveling and all of that kind of stuff, so they kind of persuaded me to play. I've been playing ever since."
Among those friends are accomplished poker players like Patrick Crivell ($236,790 in tournament earnings), Jordan Westmorland ($470,466 in tournament earnings), and her boyfriend Alex Lynskey ($176,840 in tournament earnings).
According to Rich, she came to play the MSPT after her and Lynskey decided to travel the country in a camper, beginning with a stop in Las Vegas.
"We were going to come here and do the whole World Series of Poker thing," Rich explained. "We bought a big camper van and were going to do a big road trip after this. It fell into place there happens to be poker tournaments in the Midwest, so we figured we'd go together and do some vacationing while playing poker."
She continued, "My boyfriend and I were planning on doing some of the other MSPT trips in the Midwest, so we were looking through it and saw there was one in Vegas. It looked like a pretty good spot, there was a big guarantee, so we decided to register it and went from there."
Both Rich and Lynskey play poker full time, and she is quick to credit him, as well as her other friends, for teaching her the game just a year and a half ago.
"He's taught me so much, but they've all taught me an incredible amount," said Rich. As for the MSPT, she was impressed: "That's the first one I've ever played. It was nice. It was a Deepstack tournament, started with a ton of chips, structure was really good, especially towards the end. I was surprised by that in a three-day tournament. It was really good."
Rich revealed that she originally wasn't planning on playing the WSOP Main Event unless she satellited in, and while that's still her hope, she's likely to play it either way now.
"I'm going to try to satellite into the Main Event," she said. "I wasn't really planning on playing it unless things went well, which obviously they have. So I should 100% be playing the Main Event, and I'll be playing other events like the Ladies Event and a couple of other $1Ks and $1,500s."
As for the rest of the money?
"We bought a 1995 Chevy camper van we bought right before we came here. We're planning on using that, but I'm not really sure now. I don't have a car other than that, and I've always wanted a Jeep Wrangler, so maybe that will be on the list of things I'll buy. Other than that nothing too crazy, just gonna continue to travel and play."
Congratulations to Angelina Rich for not only becoming the first-ever woman to win a MSPT title, but also for taking down the largest MSPT event in history! The MSPT continues July 18-26 with the Iowa State Poker Championship at Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa. For more information, visit msptpoker.com.