Fitchburg, Wisconsin's Jason Mirza won the 2015 Mid-States Poker Tour Potawatomi Casino Main Event in the early morning hours Monday, besting a record field for a poker tournament in his home state.
Despite coming into heads-up play a little behind in chips, Mirza got the best of veteran grinder Leon Morford to collect a $147,529 first-place prize and the coveted MSPT title.
"Just shipped the MSPT Potawatomi for $147k," Mirza tweeted after the win. "Finally a big result after a ton of work. Tyty all for the rail."
Notable finishes: Mike Deis (11th - $7,988), Brett Reichard (23rd - $3,379), Darryl Ronconi (27th - $3,379), Dan Almerli (29th - $3,011), Zal Irani (30th - $3,011), Mark Hodge (37th - $2,704), Matt Alexander (54th - $2,396)
The event's two starting flights drew a grand total of 635 entries to Milwaukee, also becoming the MSPT's second biggest tournament and largest ever held outside of Las Vegas. The event's final day began Sunday morning with 135 players and quickly moved past the 63-player money bubble.
Mirza began to assert himself soon after and found a spot among the leaders after busting Mike Ross at the final three tables.
Although he lost a massive hand versus Morford as they inched closer to the final table, missing with an open-ended straight-flush draw, he was able to settle down and right the ship.
Mirza entered the final 10 in the middle of the pack with Morford holding the lead, but it was fourth-place finisher Richard Bai who took control early and moved into a commanding lead at one point.
Bai had a chance to get up and above five million chips during seven-handed action before third-place finisher Andreas Wagner went runner-runner to make a flush and crack his queens.
It was Mirza himself who ended up being the first player past that post when he took most of sixth-place finisher James Kasputis' chips, holding with queens versus nines all in preflop.
Morford did all the heavy lifting after that, busting all the shorter stacks to take a lead into heads-up play.
The two then traded a number of jabs heads-up with Mirza taking the lead twice. The final hand of the tournament took place in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), and it happened when Morford bet 500,000 on a 6♥8♥5♠ flop and Mirza raised to 1.8 million, Morford shoved all in and Mirza, who barely had him covered, snap-called.
Morford had flopped top pair with a solid kicker, but Mirza was ahead with two pair. The 6♠ turn counterfeited Mirza and gave Morford the lead with eights and sixes with a king kicker, but then the 5♦ spiked on the river. With that, Mirza rivered a full house to take the title and the home-state glory.
Season 6 of the MSPT continued this week with the MSPT Maryland Live! in Hanoiver, Maryland, which will culminate with an $1,100 buy-in $250,000 Guaranteed Main Event this weekend. For more information, visit msptpoker.com.