The 2019 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship at FireKeepers Casino proved to be a record-setting affair by attracting 1,615 entries over three flights. That made it the largest poker tournament in Michigan state history, as was the $1,565,066 prize pool on tap.
In the end, 31-year-old Bobby Noel finished as the last player standing to claim the title and $262,145 first-place prize. Prior to the career-high score, Noel had $305,584 in lifetime earnings including a prior best $136,625 for finishing runner-up to Josh Reichard in the 2018 HPT Championship.
“My first time here, I’ll probably come back now I guess. I’m feeling good,” Noel said after the win. “I haven’t been playing a ton this year. I had some success last year. Things just seem to be working out pretty well for me.”
On his way to victory, Noel had to defeat a former champ and a World Poker Tour champion.
“I would say it was the hardest final I’ve played by far,” he added.
Day 2 Action
The start of Day 2 saw 211 players return to action, and of those 171 were slated to get paid. Among those to fall short of the money was MSPT Hall of Famer Kou Vang, WSOP Main Event finalist Nick Manion, and bubble boy Brandon Sinawi, who lost ace-king to ace-queen all in preflop when a lady spiked on the river.
Among those to cash but fall short of making the final table were bracelet winner Ben Keeline (55th - $3,913), Minnesota Hall of Famer Blake Bohn (67th - $3,443), Nick Pupillo (68th - $3,443), MSPT FireKeepers champ Chris Moon (74th - $3,287), three-time MSPT champ Matt Kirby (87th - $3,130), and current MSPT Season 10 points leader Mike Shin (95th - $2,817).
Making his fourth appearance at a MSPT FireKeepers final table was poker pro Aaron Massey, who was joined by his brother Ralph Massey. It marked the first time the two had made a major final table together, but their shared experienced didn’t last long as Aaron was the first to fall after losing a flip with king-jack to the pocket tens of Noel.
Dapreesch Scates was the next to go after his ace-queen fell to king-jack blind on blind against Noel, and Erik Koch followed him out the door in eighth place losing queen-ten suited to Noel’s kings all in preflop.
At that point a rare double elimination took place when Hyung Cho got it in with nine-ten suited, Justin Pease with Big Slick, and Keven Stammen holding ace-eight. Stammen, who had both players covered, spiked a runner-runner straight to send them both to the rail and bring the field down to five players.
Day 1c chip leader Isaac Kratchman, who finished third in the 2018 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship, was the next to go after shoving the small blind with queen-ten only to have Noel wake up with ace-jack suited in the big. The better hand held and Kratchman had to settle for fifth place and $70,427 in prize money.
Massey then cracked the pocket aces of Elliott Hebden holding ten-nine thanks to a ten on the flop – which is when the chips went in – and another on the river. Not long after, the short-stacked Stammen, brother to 2018 MSPT Michigan State Poker Champ Matt Stammen, also fell to Massey, who took a nearly 2-1 chip lead into heads-up play.
Despite that, it was Noel coming out on top to send Massey to the rail in second place for a career-high $161,200.