The second-ever MSPT $350 Regional Event held at Canterbury Park attracted 1,065 entrants, and it was 2016 MNPokerMag POY Saad Ghanem who captured a $39,542 first-place prize and the MSPT hardware after a three-way chop. The top 3 places were scheduled to pay $57,151, $35,216 and $26,258 respectively.
Ghanem, a self described “retired car jockey,” started the final table with a monster chip stack, and he described the final table as pretty easy-going. An early hand where he had jacks cracked, “...stung a little bit, but I recovered from that, I won a flip with ace-king versus queens.”
Ghanem’s final table also included 2017 MSPT Canterbury Park Regional Champ Paul Cross, who was seated directly to his left at the final table. This wasn’t a negative to Ghanem, however, and he described the experience of having the defending champ next to him as, “Pretty good actually. During the dinner break we got together to play a game of darts.”
He cited a “lot of things” that helped propel him to victory, including “Good friends, positive vibes. All the rail was pure.” When asked what plans, if any, he had for the score, he simply smiled and said, “Giving it back to the players, one day at a time.”
Wednesday’s Day 1A flight drew 216 entrants, but only 26 of them made it through, including chip leader Luke Mernin (470,500). On 1B, 234 hit the felt, with 31 of them advancing. Dana Isaacson won a mammoth flip with his jacks making quads against the ace-king of his opponent, and he bagged the overall Day 1 chip lead with a whopping 680,000.
Friday’s Day 1C drew an additional 245 runners, bringing the total field up to 695, and Nicholas Aarestad bagged 274,000 to lead the 36 survivors of the day. The fourth and final flight saw 370 entrants take their shot, and Koua Her knocked out last year’s third-place finisher Loki Abboud just before the end of the night to bag up 495,500 and the Day 1D chip lead over the 56 survivors.
108 players were slated to be paid, meaning 41 left empty-handed, including current Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT POY Aaron Johnson, April’s MSPT Canterbury Park Champ Rob Wazwaz, Season 6 MSPT Canterbury Park Champ “DQ” Dan Hendrickson, and bubble boy Vlad Revniaga, who got his last 2.5 big blinds in from the small blind after a raise from Duane Anderson in middle position.
Revniaga, who had been crippled a few hands prior when his kings ran into Anderson’s aces, was again beat after a board gave Anderson top pair and sent the remaining field in the money.
Some of those players that found their way into the money included Final Table Bubble Boy Tim Ling (11th - $4,325), John Alexander (13th - $3,707), Day 1A Chip Leader Luke Mernin (17th - $3,027), Two-Time MSPT Champ Peixin Liu (18th - $3,027), Alex Winter (21st - $2,533), Zac Campbell (27th - $1,761), Day 1C Chip Leader Nicholas Aarestad (38th - $1,050), Erick Wright (44th - $1,050), Brett Kuznia (49th - $958), MNPokerMag POY Todd Melander (51st - $958), Jay Philips (52 - $958), Season 8 MSPT Running Aces Champ Jeffrey Birt (54th - $958), Matt Alexander (55th - $865), Sherry Hammers (59th - $865), Day 1D Chip Leader Koua Her (61st - $865), Michael Mernin (66th - $803), DJ Buckley (71st - $803), Rob Maier (74th - $772) “Wild” Bill Romer (85th - $680), Eric Eelkema (88th - $680) and Dennis Stevermer (100th - $649).
Here’s how things looked at the start of the final table:
Seat 1: AJ Thompson - 910,000
Seat 2: Alex Juedes - 1,730,000
Seat 3: Saad Ghanem - 5,135,000
Seat 4: Paul Cross - 2,300,000
Seat 5: Matthew Hamilton - 2,120,000
Seat 6: Dana Isaacson - 2,360,000
Seat 7: David Rutledge - 2,835,000
Seat 8: Cole Fuches - 1,250,000
Seat 9: Joshua Matti - 1,780,000
Seat 10: Mikey Wangh - 925,000
Final Table Action
Juedes was the first victim of the final table, losing a flip to Matti, leaving him with tenth-place and $4,325 for his efforts. Another flip spelled the end for Isaacson shortly after, his queens unable to fade the ace-king of Ghanem, and he left in ninth-place $5,561 richer.
Fuchs was the next to fall in eighth in Level 31 (60,000/120,000/20,000) after calling a raise in the big blind from Ghanem in the lojack to 260,000. On a flop, Fuchs jammed for 450,000 and Ghanem snapped him off.
Fuchs had flopped a monster, with a double-gutter straight draw, flush draw, and two overs against Ghanem’s top pair. The turn and river were safe for Ghanem, and Fuchs was left with eighth-place and $6,796 for his efforts. Rutledge found a bad spot to three-bet steal with when he ran into the kings of Hamilton, and he was left with seventh-place and $8,959.
Wangh met his end in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000) when he got his last 545,000 in the middle from the lojack and was called by Cross on the button.
Cross flopped trips on a flop, and Wangh was dead after the turn, leaving him heading to the payout desk after the hit the river, giving him $11,430 for his sixth-place run.
Hamilton was next to go in Level 33 (100,000/200,000/30,000) when his couldn’t catch up to Ghanem’s , and Hamilton took home $14,828 for his fifth-place finish. Cross then finished off Matti with Cross and his besting Matti’s , and while Matti took down fourth-place and $19,462, the final three; Thompson, Ghanem, and Cross, all sat nearly even in chips. They eventually worked out a deal where Ghanem and Thompson took home $39,542, while Cross, the defending champion, took home $39,541 and brings his career MSPT earnings over the six-figure mark.
The next event at Canterbury Park is a $300,000 GTD Main Event with three starting flights starting on Thursday, September 13th with the final day on Sunday, September 16th featuring MSPT Live Reporting and a Worldwide Broadcast of the Final Table. The previous Canterbury Park Main Event in April attracted a record 526 entries and saw local legend Rob Wazwaz ship the title and $109,375.