The MSPT Canterbury Park began with 491 runners (236 from Day 1A, 255 on 1B) – which made it the second-largest MSPT Main Event at Canterbury Park in 15 visits (record is 493 from last December) – but when things concluded Sunday night, it was Mark Collins, a 44-year-old IT system administrator from Illinois, who emerged victorious to win $102,076.
“I play maybe once a month, $100 buy-in tournaments, that’s about it,” Collins said after the win “I’ve played three or four of these MSPTs.
Collins, who has been playing poker for eight years, had just $3,289 in tournament earnings before the win including $1,011 for finishing 73rd in the MSPT Season 8 Potawatomi Regional Event.
He had Friday off from work, so he decided to travel up to frigid Minnesota and direct buy his way into the tournament. It proved a wise decision for the father of 23-year-old twin daughters as he left with a six-figure score, which he plans to use to pay off his house.
“You’ll definitely see me playing more,” said Collins when asked if he’s inspired to play more often. “I probably won’t win again, but you’ll see me playing.”
Day 2 began with 94 players returning to action, but with only 54 of them slated to get paid, 40 of them would leave empty-handed. They included two-time MSPT champ Jeremy Dresch, MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year Rich Alsup, and MSPT Season 5 Ho-Chunk champ Jason Sell.
Donnel Topness busted as bubble boy in 55th place – the result of his kings getting cracked by Loki Abboud’s jacks all in preflop – and then the in-the-money finishes began to mount. Among those to earn a payday but fall short of the final table were Abboud (49th - $2,136), Minnesota Poker Hall of Famer Mike Schneider (44th -$2,326), MSPT Season 8 Regional Champ Paul Cross (35th - $2,564), and MSPT Season 6 Canterbury Park winner Dan “DQ” Hendrickson (33rd - $2,564).
Speaking of Hendrickson, he was one of four players to have cashed all eight seasons of MSPT, the others being Matt Kirby, Jeremy Dresch, and Kou Vang. By cashing for the first time in Season 9, Hendrickson kept his streak alive, as did Vang, who finished in 14th place for $5,697.
Others to make money were reigning Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Player of the Year Chris Meyers (29th - $2,564), MSPT Season 8 Potawatomi Regional champ Craig Trost (23rd - $3,656), Brian Zupancich (13th - $5,697), and final table bubble boy Anthony Ostapenko (11th - $7,122).
The first elimination of the final table came when Umut Ozturk got his short stack all in with the against the of Sherry Hammers. Ozturk got it in good, but he fell behind on the flop. Neither the turn nor river helped him and he had to settle for 10th place and $7,122, his first-ever MSPT cash.
Not long after, Day 1A chip leader Gerald Cunniff fell when he slow played two pair on the flop only to allow Collins to turn a set. The river was no help to a stunned Cunniff and he hit the rail in ninth place for $9,021.
Charlie Workman was next to go after shoving the button with ace-six and running into the ace-seven of Collins. The latter made a straight and that was all she wrote for Workman, who took home $11,869 for his eighth-place finish.
Next, Gary Ewald ran pocket sevens into Bob Van Syckle’s kings, and then World Series of Poker bracelet winner John Reading, who began the final table as the chip leader, fell when his failed to win a race against Bob Van Syckle’s after a runout. Reading, a Chip Leader Coaching student fresh off finishing third in the WSOP Circuit Potawatomi Main Event for $86,052, earned $19,466 for finishing in sixth place.
Joel Doering took his leave after his failed to win a race against the of Aaron Johnson, who followed him out the door in fourth place when his couldn’t suck out on Hammers’ . Doering and Johnson took home $25,638 and $34,183 respectively.
The score, which was Johnson’s 19th Main Event and cash, brought his MSPT earnings up to $126,303 and allowed him to join the tour’s six-figure club.
Hammers, the better half of MSPT regular Tom Hammers, began the day on a short stack of just 40,000 but held on to make her first final table. Hammers was seeking to become just the second woman to win a tour title, but those hopes came to a halt in third place. That is when she three-bet all in holding the only to run it into the of Collins. The board ran out and Hammers had to settle for third place and $45,198 in prize money.
Heads-up play began with Collins holding a big lead of Van Syckle, who was making his second appearance at an MSPT Main Event final table is after finishing seventh in the MSPT Season 4 Running Aces for $12,407.
In what would be the final hand of the tournament, which took place in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), Collins raised to 380,000 on the button holding the and then called when Van Syckle moved all in for 1.5 million with the .
Van Syckle was primed to double, but the flop gave Collins the lead with a pair of sixes. The turn left Van Syckle looking for a queen on the river to stay alive, but it wasn’t in the cards as the bricked on the river. Van Syckle earned $62,720 for his runner-up finish.