The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) returned to the beautiful mountainside at Bally's Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, and hosted a 13-trophy Showdown Series which was headlined by its $1,110 buy-in, $300K GTD Main Event.
A total of 486 entries (94 from Day 1a; 138 from 1b; 254 from 1c) were tallied through three starting flights and generated a $469,920 prize pool.
On Sunday, 60 players returned for Day 2 action, and after roughly 10 hours of action, it was Texas native Alex Cruz who came out on top to win the $101,033 top prize and his first MSPT title.
"Pretty surreal honestly, I have a pretty good dopamantine rush going on right now that's for sure,” Curz continued, “You know, it’s pretty crazy because I woke-up late Friday, looked online to see what the chip leader bagged and thought I could top that.
Cruz added, “So I hit up a couple of my friends and they told me to go with my gut, so I booked a 7:00 a.m. flight from Texas, slept in a couple different airports, and made it here for Day 1c.”
Once here, Cruz was able to run up the top stack to start the final day, but it wasn’t a smooth road to the finish line.
“I came into the day as the chip leader with 600,000 and by the end of the first level I lost a third of my stack. I thought my day was over but I was able to flop a straight with Big Slick and just built from there.”
More of a cash game player, Cruz said he started playing tournament poker, but went on a downswing and took a break before finding some inspiration over the summer.
“So my friend just won a bracelet this summer for $1,200,000 and that really inspired me to get back into the tournament scene, shout out Braxton Dunaway.”
With 54 slated to get paid, only six players needed to exit before players reached the money. Among those to leave empty-handed were Larry Blazer, Barry Hamilton, Bobby Opila, Ronald Scott, and Joshua Williamson.
Once the tournament reached the hand-for-hand process, only a few hands were played before Ali Mirtaheri jammed his pocket tens into Louie Cohen's pocket aces, and the march to the final table began.
Among those to fall along the way, albeit with a payday, were four-time MSPT champ Jered Wood (10th place - $7,049), Matt Stolmeier (14th place - $5,639), and MSPT champs Gerald Cunniff (21st place - 4,276), Umut Ozturk (36th place - $2,538), Steve Wilkie & (46th place - $2,115).
Final Table action
Once the final table was set, fireworks popped off after Justin Lynch, Krzysztof Stybaniewicz, and Brian Yee all got their stacks in the middle preflop.
Each player held a premium hand with Yee turning a set of queens to send Lynch home in ninth place, while Stybaniewicz departed shortly after in eighth place.
After that action hand, Dalton Porter found himself next on the chopping block after his Big Slick was straightened out by Yee for a seventh place finish.
Yee would continue his elimination spree by winning a race with ace-queen suited against Marlon Caster's pocket sixes and made his exit in sixth place.
Once Caster departed, eliminations started to heat up like wildfire as the final four eliminations came in the same level.
It all started with Shane Borrillo jamming his ace-jack into Cruz's pocket aces to take a fifth place finish for $25,376, while Maddie Robinson lost a race to Yee's ace-queen and took a fourth-place finish for $33,835.
The very next hand, Jonathan McCray called off his short stack holding an offsuit ace-seven and had Cruz's ace-four dominated. McCray was looking good until the dealer dropped a four on the river to end the Cancer survivor's Main Event run in third place for $44,736.
From there, Cruz was able to take a quick chip lead against Yee in their heads-up battle and picked up aces once again in the final hand to win his first MSPT trophy and payday good for $101,033.
The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) is headed to Riverside, Iowa next (July 20th-23rd) and the MSPT team will be on hand providing updates for the $300K GTD $1,110 Main Event so make sure to come back!