The $1,100 buy-in MSPT Cleveland Poker Open, the tour’s first-ever stop in Ohio, drew 581 entries (111 on Day 1A, 182 1B, and 288 1C) to JACK Cleveland Casino. That made it both the largest poker tournament field and prize pool in Cleveland history!
After three starting flights and Sunday’s Day 2, it was 34-year-old Abdul “Dulie” Amer who emerged victorious to capture a $118,350 first-place prize. It was the first MSPT cash for Amer, who hails from Columbus, Ohio. Prior to the win, he had $95,595 in tournament earnings including a previous best of $25,230 for finishing third in a 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open $560 NLHE event.
“I haven’t scooped a tournament in forever, just always get deep but hard to break through, especially in these bigger ones with good players,” Amer said after the win. “It was a well-run tournament. It was a good time. Everything at JACK Cleveland was great. Everyone was nice and professional.”
Amer, who is good friends with poker pros Nick Guagenti and Adam Friedman, can often be found playing pot-limit Omaha cash games when he’s not spending time with his wife and two kids, one three years old and the other just eight months.
“I’ll take care of about $50K to bookies, I’m a big sports gambler,” Amer joked when asked about what he’ll do with the six-figure score. “No plans, probably put it in the bank and keep it rolling.”
The day began with a dozen players needing to fall before the money was made. Among those to leave empty handed were Bobby Noel, Edward Mogilnicki, Andy Spears, and bubble boy Tarik Adam.
Some notable players to cash the tournament were 2017 MSPT Indiana State Poker Champ Satish Thakur (62nd - $2,142), Day 1B chip leader David Michael (47th - $2,254), legendary Cleveland radio show host Michael “Triv” Trivisonno (38th - $2,423), Mike Ross (28th - $2,705), Day 1C chip leader Aaron Obstein (17th - $5,636), Day 1A chip leader Frank Lagodich (14th - $6,763), and final table bubble boy Kenneth Coppens (11th - $8,454).
Final Table Action
On just the third hand of the final table, Luke Edwards raised to 65,000 from the cutoff and Randall Brooks responded by three-betting all in for 620,000 from the small blind. Mike Shanahan flatted from the big, Edwards got out of the way, and Brooks discovered the bad news.
Brooks was looking for a miracle, but he didn’t get one as the board ran out a dry 7♥7♦9♦Q♥3♠.
Not long after Luke Edwards four-bet shoved with the A♦K♦ and received a call from Amer, who held the 7♦7♥. It was a flip, and Edwards failed to improve as the board ran out a lowly 4♣10♦8♣6♠8♦. Edwards took home $10,708 for his ninth-place finish.
Minnesota’s Brian Berthiaume, who was at back-to-back Main Event final tables after finishing fifth in December’s MSPT Season 8 finale at Canterbury Park, was the next to go after racing with A♠Q♦ against the 6♣6♠ of Shanahan. The board ran out K♦5♠5♥K♠2♣ and Berthiaume had to settle for eighth place and $13,526 in prize money.
From there, the short-stacked John Michalak shoved his last eight big blinds from the button with the Q♦9♦ only to run it into the Q♣Q♠ of Dan Wagner in the big blind. Michalak picked up a straight draw on the 5♠J♣K♥ flop, but he missed it when the K♣ blanked on the turn followed by the 6♠ on the river. Michalak earned $17,471 for finishing seventh.
Mike Peppin exited in sixth place for $2,543 – the result of getting his short stack all in against two players and having them checking it down – and then Ronnie Lamb bowed out in fifth place after jamming his short stack with the K♦5♦ from the small blind and getting a call from Shanahan, who held the 8♥7♥ in the big. The board ran out 3♦7♣J♠5♠10♥ and that was all she wrote for Lamb.
Four-handed play was an action-packed affair, and during it MSPT Season 8 FireKeepers champ Mike Shanahan went from the big to the short stack. That is when he jammed for 1.1 million under the gun with the A♣Q ♠ and Wagner called from the button with the 8♥8♣. Shanahan was unable to improve on the 10♠5♥6♠4♥8♦ runout, and the last former champ in the field hit the rail in fourth place for $39,450.
Interestingly, the score brought Shanahan’s MSPT earnings up to $278,607, which put him into 10th place on the tour’s all-time money list.
Falling in third place after losing a flip with the Q♦J♦ against the 10♦10♠ of Wagner was World Series of Poker bracelet winner Adam Friedman. While he came up short of his first MSPT title, he did join the MSPT six-figure club by earning a tour-high $52,976 (his previous best was $45,000 for finishing third in a Season 5 FireKeepers Casino stop), which brought his tour earnings up to $133,649.
Wagner began heads-up play with 8 million in chips to Amer’s 3.6 million, but it turned into a lengthy back-and-forth battle. The chip lead exchanged hands several times before it got to Level 33 (100,000/200,000/30,000), which is when Amer raised to 400,000 holding the A♣8♣ and called when Wagner shoved for 4.6 million with the A♠5♠. The board ran out 4♦K♥3♣10♠8♦ and Wagner had to settle for second place and a $72,701 consolation prize.
“Blinds were big, I know he’s going to shove with any ace,” Amer said when asked about why he decided to take a shot in the last hand. “He shoved earlier with queen-jack, so I know he’s a capable player.”