After 15 hours of play, the inaugural MSPT East Chicago at Ameristar Casino has come to its conclusion. A total of 841 entrants came out to play, ensuring that 90 players would make the money in this massive field.
After the dust settled, it was Illinois resident Marc Bernal who took down the event for his first MSPT trophy and a first place worth a career-best $130,822. “Elated,” the new champion remarked “I feel as though that is a good way to describe how I’m feeling right now.”
Bernal played in a final table that possessed much more of a home game atmosphere then compared to many other final tables. “History adds a lot,” he mentioned when describing some of the competition, “we are all for the most part PLO players and even though the games themselves are very different, the tendencies are the same.”
“The final table was more friendly, which made it a lot more fun,” he continued. “Honestly the competition between the final five of us was more friendly than it was competitive. A lot easier to handle the swings because of that.”
Bernal took down his first six-figure score live cash. When asked what the first thing he was going to do with his winnings he said “we need to buy dog food, so I’m gonna buy some dog food.”
Final Day Recap
The bubble burst rather quickly, with Jack Mayberry having been forced all in from the big blind for his last few chips with queen four off against Terrence Doyle’s three four suited. Doyle turned a flush to leave Mayberry drawing dead and he became the last player to not receive a payout.
Many notables found their exit earlier than they would have hoped, Rich Alsup (90th-$2,117), Michael Berk (87th-$2,117), Umut Ozturk (85th-$2,117) all found themselves leaving just after the bubble burst. Following them out the door included Frank Lagodich (71st-$2,280), Josh Reichard (62nd-$2,443), Abby Merk (60th-$2,443), Sarah Stefan (49th-$2,606), Scott Sisler (39th-$2,931), and Andy Rogowski (37th-$2,931) all found their runs coming to an end before the three table redraw.
After that redraw, others like Gerald Heath (25th-$4,723), Angela Jordison (21st-$6,840), Kou Vang (19th-$6,840), Ryan Julius (18th-$8,143), start of day chip leader Robert Moreno (15th-$9,771), DJ Buckley (13th-$9,771), and Mark Sandness (11th-$11,400) all found themselves on the outside looking in of the final table. The final players ousted before the final table was Joseph Elpayaa who could not win the pot with his queen two against Michael Puccio’s ace-king. Elpayaa collected $11,400 for his tenth place finish and the final table was set.
Final Table Recap
A few hands into the final table, Kyle Julius ended up all in with his pocket nines against Kevin Andriamahefa who held pocket tens. The domination situation resulted in no help being present for Julius and the Illinois-born player ended his impressive run in this event with a ninth place finish worth $14,657.
The final prior MSPT champion standing was the hall of famer Rob Wazwaz, who made his 16th final table. He came into the final table as one of the shorter stacks, and eventually got in his final chips with ace-seven suited against Marc Bernal’s pocket nines. The king-high board did no favors to the Minnesota native and he ended his run in eighth place for $18,728. With this finish, he now overtakes Umut Ozturk into the lead of the hotly contested 2023 Player of the Year race.
David Gutfreund was next to go in seventh place. Gutfreund was unable to gain much momentum throughout the final table and in the end he got in his final chips in with ace ten offsuit against Andriamahefa’s ace seven suited. Andriamahefa flopped a flush draw and the river paired his kicker to send him over eight figures in chips and see the midwestern regular Gutfreund to collect $23,614 for his efforts.
After that, MSPT regular Mo Nuwwarah got into two confrontations with Michael Puccio, with neither of them going his way. The first saw Nuwwarah and Puccio get into a classic race with Nuwwarah holding ace queen suited and Puccio holding tens. The tens held up which put Puccio squarely in second and Nuwwarah as one of the shorter stacks. A few hands passed and Nuwwarah moved all in on the button for his last few chips with king ten while Puccio called in the big blind with king jack. The king jack held and Nuwwarah exited the tournament in sixth place for $30,942.
Laddering up with his short stack throughout the final table was Maxx Holland. With seven left he dropped to the absolute shortest stack, but through careful timing and a few key double ups, he survived to make it to five handed. His run would come to an end when he was nearly forced all in from the small blind with queen six and it could not improve against Andriamahefa’s queen ten and Holland collectd $40,714 for his impressive fifth place finish.
What followed was a four-handed for the ages as all four players being good friends, exchanged jokes and jabs, all while playing intense poker. The chip lead moved to each different player at one time, with Puccio all in for his last chips with a flush and straight draw combo against Bernal’s top pair top kicker. Puccio hit the flush on the river to take the chip lead while Bernal fell to the short stack. As time went on it would be the start of four handed play chip leader Andriamahefa who would fall to the shortest stack and finish his run in fourth place when his jack two failed to improve against Bernal’s jack six and Andriamahefa collected $53,742 for his deep run.
The final three players made a deal to guarantee all three players $98,823, while first place would take home $130,822. Three handed started with Puccio holding the lead, but it would be Todd Sladek who took the lead briefly after doubling through Bernal, before Bernal took it back shortly after.
It would be Puccio’s turn to head to the door after, when his pocket sixes failed to hold up against Bernal’s king nine. The flop of two pair, sealed the deal for Bernal to take the overall tournament lead and Puccio took third place for his highest MSPT finish and $98,823.
Sladek did take the lead from Bernal in heads up play, but after a bit it was Bernal back on top who even took a pot down with seven deuce offsuit. Sladek did double up to ten bigs, but the following hand he found himself all in with queen four suited against Bernal’s king nine suited. The board provided no help for the queen four and Sladek ended his run for a career best live cash of $98,823.
Congratulations to Marc Bernal for winning his first MSPT for $130,822. Thank you to all who played and thanks for reading along with us on MSPTPoker.com.