The $1,100 buy-in MSPT Poker Bowl II, which coincides yearly with NFL Super Bowl weekend, drew 827 entries (268 on Day 1A and 559 on Day 1B) to The Venetian, crushing the $500,000 guarantee with an $806,325 prize pool and surpassing last year’s field of 695.
After two starting flights and Saturday’s Day 2 (instead of Sunday, to allow players to be free to watch Super Bowl LII), it was 43-year-old Kfir Nahum, who recently relocated to Las Vegas, earning the victory after a four-way chop (chops are allowed per The Venetian policy), netting him $108,410 and the current lead in the Season 9 Kimo Sabe Mezcal POY Standings.
“I feel great, my wife and parents are here,” said Nahum, a businessman who owns a travel agency. He’s also a father of two boys and a girl, the latter having just graduated high school. “I bought in three times to this tournament. The same guy knocked me out two times. The third time was the charm.”
As for who he wants to win tomorrow’s Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, Nahum was quick to answer: “I will go with the Eagles. It’s a business decision. If they win, my brother will make a lot of money in Philly.”
The win brought Nahum’s career earnings up to $587,960. It was the latest notch on his poker belt which includes finishing 61st in the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event for a career-high $121,188, and a pair of wins in Bay 101 $1K event for $100,000 and $79,330 respectively. He also won the 2014 Israel Poker Tour Summer Edition Main Event for $73,689.
On Day 2, 115 players returned to action, which meant 25 players left without a payday. Some of those unfortunate players that didn’t make the money include Osama “Sammy” Aweida, “DQ” Dan Hendrickson, 2017 MN Magazine POY Todd Melander, and poker pro Darren Rabinowitz. Nikhil Gera was our bubble boy, getting his set of kings cracked by Daniel Frumkin’s queens when Frumkin rivered a flush.
Notable players that were able to score a cash in the tournament include Ryan “protentialmn” Laplante (85th - $2,096), Washington’s all-time tournament earnings leader Scott Clements (83rd - $2,096), 2016 WSOP Colossus II Champ Ben Keeline (75th - $2,177), MSPT Poker Bowl I fourth-place finisher Jordan Cristos (70th - $2,258), Day 1B chip leader Valentin Vornicu (59th - $2,419), Jon “PearlJammed” Turner (55th - $2,419), 2010 WSOP Main Event third-place finisher Joseph Cheong (47th - $2,580), Day 1A chip leader Dylan Thomassie (45th - $2,903), Kathy Liebert (42nd - $2,903), Eric “Basebaldy” Baldwin (23rd - $5,725), MSPT Season 3 Running Aces champ Rodger Johnson (12th - $11,289), and a double elimination prior to the final table that saw Connor Arlia (11th - $11,289) and Marc Bernal (10th - $11,289) give us a nine-handed Final Table from the start.
Final Table Action
Early on, Daniel Perkins was unfortunate enough to run his K♠K♣ into Ana Freitas’ A♦A♣ and after a 4♥A♥K♦ flop left him drawing to one out, he found no help on a 7♦ turn or 2♦ river and was crippled and subsequently eliminated in ninth place for $14,514.
Season 8 MSPT Grand Falls Champion Ahmed Taleb was next to go, after he jammed his last 450,000 from the cutoff, and was called by Matthias De Cercq in the big blind.
De Cercq: K♠K♥
Taleb found no love on a 5♦Q♥2♦2♣8♥ board and the former MSPT Champion had to settle for eighth place and $18,454 as a consolation prize.
Freitas’s demise came in two hands, first when her jacks ran into Nahum’s kings in a monster pot, then two hands later, when her sixes weren’t able to hold when Mike Lang spiked an ace on the turn, to leave her with seventh place and $23,383 for her efforts.
The next player to fall was Steve Buell, after Nahum jammed from the small blind for Buell’s last ten blinds and Buell snapped him off.
Buell’s lead was short lived after the 8♣Q♠7♠ flop brought Nahum two pair, and the 10♦ on the turn and 7♦ on the river filled Nahum up. That sent Buell to the payout desk in sixth place with a $30,640 payday waiting for him.
Lang was the next to go losing a flip with eights against De Cercq’s ace-king. That gave Lang, the last MSPT regular in the field, a fifth-place finish and $40,316 in winnings, enough to propel him into the top 40 all-time for MSPT tournament earnings.
After Lang’s elimination, the four remaining players struck a deal as follows:
Nahum = $108,410 and the title (via chip count)
De Cercq = $108,410
John Ploski = $84,743
Bob Shao = $76,926
“The blinds were so high. It was more luck than skill at that point,” Nahum said of the decision to work a deal. “It was going too long, the average was about 20 bigs, so we decided to do away with the luck and chop. As for the money, I’ll be playing more poker and taking care of my family.”
Season 9 of the MSPT continued February 23-25 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota. That $1,100 buy-in, $300K GTD will offer two starting flights on Friday and Saturday culminating with Day 2 on Sunday. The stop will also mark our first live-streamed final table of the year.