The MSPT returned to JACK Cleveland Casino for the first time this season and it was one for the record books.
The $1,110 buy-in, $500K GTD Main Event was one to remember as a total of 1,1156 entries (237 from Day 1a; 380 from 1b; 539 from 1c) were tallied, which blasted passed the venue’s previous best field of 1,041 last year and the $1,119,820 prize pool was the largest in an Ohio casino.
After 14 hours of play, it was Illinois native Matthew Eng who navigated his way through to the finish line was for a $168,903 first place prize along with his first MSPT title!
“You know, I really hate driving, but something was telling me to come out here, so I buckled down and made what was a five-hour drive from Chicago and now I'm really happy I did”, Eng stated after his win.
“It feels really good”, Eng continued to say after his victory, “I’ve put a lot of time into this game, and it feels great to walk away with the win.”
The six-figure score was definitely a milestone for the 10-year poker vet as it surpassed his career live earnings, according to The Hendon Mob, and added his first major win to his resume.
“I would just like to thank my fiancé for always being cool and supportive when I play, I did it and I’ll be bringing home the trophy”, Eng added in his closing comments.
Day 2 Action
The final day saw 146 players returned to the felt and the field was stacked with 14 previous champs along with three Hall of Famer’s. With only 117 slated to get paid, a few handfuls of players needed to exit before players reached the money.
Among those to leave empty-handed were Greg Harris, Ronnie Lamb, Mike Suggs, MSPT champ Chris Meyers and MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Alsup, to name a few.
Only one level needed to pass before the Ben Lapointe’s Big Slick was flushed out on the river by James Yantz’s ace-six of clubs to burst the money bubble.
After Lapointe was washed down the stream, the march to the final table started and players began dropping like flies.
With payouts being yelled across the room, MSPT Hall of Famer Rob WazWaz started taking advantage of all the chips being thrown in the middle and was able to become the first player to eclipse the milly mark.
Unfortunately for the Hall of Famer, his hot streak would soon vanish after his flopped two-pair was counterfeited on the turn by Kevin Kerchenski and he fell to the bottom of the counts.
After falling to the bottom of the counts, WazWaz was unable to gain any momentum and was eliminated in 50th place ($3,559) shortly after.
With Alsup and WazWaz gone from the field, Umut Ozturk was the lone Hall of Famer left, but unfortunately for the Season 14 Player of the Year, his stack started to dwindle until his eventual 35th ($4,815) place exit.
After Ozturk’s departure, only seven former champs remained in the field and each would fall along the way with Satish Thakur (32nd Place - $4,815) being first to exit, followed by Bobby Noel (31st Place - $4,815) Abdul Amer (27th Place - $6,382), Alex Cruz (24th Place - $7,614), Ken Baime (17th Place - $10,974), and Chris Moon (12th Place - $15,677).
Final Table Action
Once players took their seats at the final table, a full level passed before the two big stacks got into some heated battles which ultimately saw Kerchenski depart in ninth place becoming the first final table elimination.
Shortly after getting a pay jump, the short stacks started tossing their chips into the middle with Adam Foster picking up a made hand of fives to move all-in with only to run into Ricky Ali’s superior pair of ladies, ending his tournament in eighth place.
Next up was Neal Aulick, who had a couple all-in’s push through until he ran his king-jack into MSPT champ Curtis Vierstraete’s dominating ace-king.
After climbing to second in the chip counts, Ali found himself next on the chopping block after losing back-to-back hands against Nazim Temiz, ending his run in sixth place for $40,313.
After Ali’s exit, Ryan Zickefoose pushed his short stack around until he was finally called by soon to be champ Eng from the big blind.
Zickefoose was behind and he couldn’t complete his flopped Broadway draw, ending his night in fifth place for $52,613.
With four player remining, chips were pretty evenly dispersed until Kyle Gross’s full house of eights and jacks fell short to Eng’s jacks full of nines.
Gross was able to secure one double before his ace-queen off suit was out-flopped by Temiz’s ace-eight, and he took a fourth place finish for $70,660.
After the few Gross hands, three handed action saw Temiz secure a double-up through Eng and he started catching some steam to accumulate the chip lead.
From there, Temiz continued to catch hands and looked down at the best one when Vierstraete got his short stack in the middle holding a made hand of sevens.
Unfortunately for Vierstraete, his pair of sevens weren’t lucky enough to crack Temiz’s pocket aces, and he took a third place finish for $127,000.
Once the former champ made his exit from the tournament field, the heads-up battle started Temiz holding a sizable 7:1 chip advantage against Eng, but he was able to catch a few double-ups to even the playing field.
Eng continued with his aggressive play collecting majority of the pots during the heads-up match until the final hand where he made an incredible call to take home the title along lion’s share for the record-breaking prize pool.
This wraps up our coverage of, yet another record-breaking tournament so make sure you join us when we make our way back to the Venetian, Las Vegas for back-to-back events for the Poker Bowl February 6th - 10th!