The inaugural Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) $1,100 Poker Bowl at The Venetian in Las Vegas proved to be a successful affair drawing 695 entrants (253 on Day 1A, 442 Day 1B). That created a $681,100 prize pool – more than double the advertised guarantee – and after two days of play it was poker pro Jordan Young who walked away with $139,624 and two different trophies.
Young, who only had to fire one bullet in the tournament, defeated Ankush Mandavia, who won $2,387,064 in 2016 and is one of four nominees for “Breakout Player of the Year” in the 3rd Annual American Poker Awards, in heads-up play to capture the title.
“I’ve had a little bit of a struggle playing deep, mainly at the World Series of Poker, so it feels good to finally close a big tournament out,” said Young after the win. “The structure was great. I love the 40-minute levels. My playing style is not suited all that much for the real long levels. I like to get it in there and just ram and jam. I loved the structure and I never had below the starting stack. Right away I had 80,000 and never looked back.”
The win marked the largest score of Young’s career, which dates back to 2010. Prior to his breakthrough win, Young’s top cash was $54,936 for finishing ninth in a 2011 WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event. The win pushed Young’s lifetime tournament earnings up to $461,921.
Day 2 saw 99 players return to action, but with only 72 slated to get paid, 27 would leave empty handed. Among them were Dylan Wilkerson, Jeff Fielder, 2016 MSPT Iowa State Poker champ John Sun, MSPT Meskwaki champ Ken Komberec, and Vancouver’s Yimin Fang, who fell as the bubble boy after his ace-queen failed to hold against Cody Schumacher’s nine-ten suited.
Once the money was made, the eliminations came rapid fire. Among those to cash but fall short of the final table were Michigan’s Griff Woodman (72nd - $2,248), Lily Kiletto (55th - $2,384), World Series of Poker bracelet winner Eric Baldwin (48th - $2,520), Luke Vrabel (38th - $2,656), three-time bracelet and start-of-the-day short stack Dutch Boyd (35th - $2,997), World Poker Tour Five Diamond champ James Romero (29th - $2,997), and the last MSPT champ in the field Jason Seitz (23rd - $4,904).
Early on at the final table, Joseph Alban exited after his Big Slick fell to the trip tens of Michigan’s Chris Moon, and start-of-the-day chip leader Gary Bolden followed him out the door after he ran queen-jack into the king-queen of Michael Vanier.
Mark Hamilton was the next to go after his ace-ten fell to Moon’s turned flush with the jack-seven of hearts, and from there Moon took care of Vanier after pairing the turn with ace-eight against the latter’s ace-queen.
MSPT Golden Gates runner-up Jason Vanstrom hit the rail in sixth place after losing a race to Mandavia. It marked Vanstrom’s third MSPT final table and ninth overall cash to bring his tour earnings up to $108,190.
After Patrick Gunraj bowed out in fifth place, WPT champ Jordan Cristos exited when his ace-seven was outdrawn by Young’s jack-six. In the very next hand, Moon ran pocket eights smack dab into Young’s queens to bust in third place.
Heads-up play began with Young holding a slight chip lead over Mandavia, but the two ended up swapping it on numerous occasions. Eventually, the pair struck a deal that saw them even split on the condition the loser would give the winner $5,000. From there, Young pulled out to a healthy lead and finished things off when his jack-four got there against Mandavia’s king-ten.
“Andy is just really good,” Young said of his opponent. “He’s really strong especially heads-up. My card distribution was solid heads-up, so it made it easier to play against him.”
Seeing as it was the Poker Bowl was just a day away from the New England Patriots taking on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, we decided to get the champ’s prediction, despite the fact he is a Detroit Lions fan.
“I can’t really imagine betting against New England, but I’d like to see the Falcons beat them,” said Young. “New England is so easy to hate, but you have to respect how good they are.”