The Mid-States Poker Tour Running Aces Main Event, a tournament that originally boasted a $200,000 guarantee, attracted 347 entrants and blew away the guarantee by creating a $347,000 prize pool. After a long and arduous Day 2, which saw 69 players return to action, 30-year-old Luke Arora of Arden Hills, Minnesota emerged victorious to capture his first MSPT title and an $83,773 first-place prize.
Arora, who only fired a single bullet on Day 1b, is a local cash game pro that plays primarily $40/$80 mix at Canterbury Park. Prior to the win he had just five tournament cashes with his best being $5,966 for a ninth-place finish in the 2011 Borgata Poker Open $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max.
"I feel very fortunate," Arora said after the win. "I ran really hot for long periods of time. I ran very much above expectation. I think I played many hands poorly, but I just ran hot."
The day started off with 33 players needing to hit the rail until the money was reached. Among those to leave empty handed were DJ Buckley, Steve Belland, Dan "DQ" Hendrickson, MSPT Pro Matt Kirby, two-time MSPT champ Johnny Hayes, and Harry Behling, who finished as the bubble boy.
It happened in in Level 18 (3,000/6,000/1,000) when Behling shoved for 66,000 holding the Ah-Jh only to run smack dab into the pocket rockets of start-of-the-day chip leader Leo Fussy.
From there, the in-the-money finishes began to mount all the way until the final table of ten was set. Among those to earn a payday but fall short of the finale were MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells runner-up Kou Vang (32nd - $2,111); the last woman in the field, Mandy Caffee (30th - $2,111); and Fussy (19th - $2,681).
The final table proved to be a stacked affair that included chip leader and former MSPT Running Aces champ Mark Sandness, MSPT Team Pro Matt Alexander, circuit pro Jeff Fielder, and MSPT champ Jeremy Dresch. However, Arora outlasted them all, including Alexander in what turn out to be an entertaining heads-up match where the cash game pro was keen to show his hands.
"I always show hands, I don't care," explained Arora. "If you want to use the information that's fine. Maybe it's different in tournaments.
As for Alexander, Arora had nothing but good things to say.
"He's a really good player, I just ran hot against him. I had ace-high starting hands a bunch. I made three aces when he made three pair. I just ran hot from the final table on."