The $1,100 buy-in, $3 million Guaranteed MSPT Mid-Season Championship at The Venetian attracted 4,345 runners, which made it the second-largest poker tournament in both MSPT and Venetian history!
On Day 3, the final 21 players returned to play down to a winner. After six hours, it was retired attorney turned business investor Mazen Abdallah of New Orleans, Louisiana who walked away with a $445,000 first-place prize after a four-way chop (the original first-place prize was slated to be $540,116)
“I feel amazing!” Abdallah said after his victory. ”I came out here specifically for this tournament, I flew in from Houston, Texas to come here. I told my wife I came here for one thing and one thing only, and that’s to win this goddamn tournament, and that’s what I did!”
Abdallah, who was a charismatic force at the table, had a unique way of describing his play style. “My style is a little bit off; a combination of game theory, but also anti-game theory. Create chaos, but always be in control at the same time. And the number one edge that I have is my table talk. I influence a lot of action through my words. It’s because I convince myself of the strength of my hand, and it conveys through my speech.”
Abdallah’s victory was also unique in that he doesn’t have a lot of prior tournament experience; “I don’t normally play tournaments, this is probably the sixth tournament I’ve ever played in my life. The thing is, it’s so hard to make it to the very end of a tournament. You can spend six, seven days and walk away with nothing. To have a couple prop bets with a buddy of yours, to where if you do make it, it’s worthwhile. I don’t wanna go into too many details, but every tournament I’ve ever played is based on a prop bet. Earlier this year, I had a prop bet on the first WSOP event I ever played, a $1,350 High Roller at the Hard Rock, and the only reason I played it was because of that prop bet.” He ended up shipping that event for the ring and $31,500.
Coming into the final day, Abdallah had a premonition about his eventual victory. “I had this overwhelming feeling, I’m gonna win this. I was telling everybody over and over again. Buddy of mine that made Day 3, (2018 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist) Aram Zobian, amazing player, he gave me some advice and tips on the later stages of the tournament. Ultimately what he told me was - Play your game, don’t change it. Play your game, maintain it, that’s what got you there.”
Abdallah also doesn’t plan to keep much of the winnings he accrued but has noble intentions in mind, saying, “I have to say this; my wife does not allow me to keep any money I win from poker. So basically it’s either going to charity or people who are in need. I told her we’re gonna splurge on one thing, though, and she agreed!
Day 2 saw a number of notables cash, including Reg Powell (24th - $21,182), Season 7 MSPT Canterbury Park champ Jonathan Kim (29th - $14,404), last year’s runner-up Felipe Davila (36th - $14,404), WSOP bracelet winner Jessica Dawley (50th - $10,591), former MSPT champ Josh Reichard (63rd - $9,320), Season 9 MSPT Venetian champ Sam Vizza (125th - $5,423), Season 6 MSPT POY Mark Hodge (200th - $4,152), Season 8 MSPT Potawatomi Regional champ Craig Trost (212th - $4,152), Season 9 MSPT Michigan State Poker champ Matthew Stammen (361st - $2,711), MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Alsup (366th - $2,711), and former WSOP November Niners Bryan Piccioli (391st - $2,372) and Jeremy Ausmus (392nd - $2,372).
Day 3 saw 11 players fall short of making the final table, including final table bubble boy Thaun Lam (11th - $42,364), Dustin Lee (13th - $36,009), Scott Hall (15th - $36,009), Erik Glenister (18th - $29,655) and 2018 WSOP Main Event Final Tablist Aram Zobian (20th - $25,418).
Final Table Action
Julien Loire went out on one of the very first hands of the final table, getting his last seven big blinds in with king-queen against the eights of Jesse Jaurigue. Loire failed to improve and hit the rail in tenth, $42,364 richer. A few levels later, Fernando Arajuo was felted in another flip, when his sevens couldn’t fade the king-jack of Mazen Abdallah. Arajuo took $50,837 home for his ninth-place finish.
Brandon Sinawi got his last ten big blinds in a short time later in a blind-versus-blind battle, but Jaruigue held Big Slick and ended Sinawi’s run in eighth-place for $63,546. Another blind battle would end Nitis Udornpim’s tournament in seventh-place, when he ripped king-six right into Sheddy Siddiqui’s jacks, giving Udornpim a $80,941 consolation prize.
Abdallah claimed his next victim when the start of Day 3 chip leader Matthew Sesso got his king-queen in against the ace-deuce of Abdallah, and Sesso failed to improve, leaving him with sixth-place and $108,028. Jaurigue was the last player to fall, when he called off his last ten big blinds with sevens, only to find Michael Shelton had him crushed with queens. Jaurigue finished in fifth for $148,273.
The final four players then made a modified ICM chop that resulted in the following payouts:
||New Orleans, LO
||Pembroke Pines, FL