The PokerNews Mid-States Poker Tour didn't have far to go for this week's event at Running Aces Harness Park in Forest Lake, Minnesota. Fields have always been large for the MSPT in the state where they started it all, and this week was no exception with 367 players generating a prize pool of $367,000. Big qualifier fields and a large local contingent continue to boost MSPT fields that have grown every year.
David Gonia from White Bear Lake, Minnesota won the first PokerNews MSPT event of Season IV for $93,940, a near record first place prize. Dave plays tournaments in the twin cities regularly and is widely known as a strong player, though this is by far his biggest cash to date. After running roughshod over the final table and dispatching opponents quickly, he took only ten minutes to dispatch his final foe.
Dave plans to buy a house with his winnings and continue to play poker tournaments on a regular basis, making his next stop in Chicago for the Chicago Poker Classic and hopes to go right to the next MSPT stop in Battle Creek, Michigan after the CPC.
Peixin Liu is also a regular player at Running Aces, and can be found playing the weekly tournaments most nights. He'll be able to play those weekly events for a long time with the $51,401 that he took home for second place.
The addition of a featured table throughout the main event, broadcasting on a fifteen minute delay with hole cards and action included, was a big draw online. Two time champ Matt Kirby, millionaire John Morgan, former champ Rodger Johnson, and 2011 MSPT Player of the Year Nate Fair made for some interesting hands as well as excellent table chatter at the featured table during Day 1A. The featured table on Day 1B was an excellent draw as well, with hedge fund mogul Andy Redleaf, local pros Todd 'Sharkslayerr' Breyfogle and Leo Fussy, as well as James Gibson, champion from last season's final event at Canterbury Park.
Running Aces was a fantastic venue as always, and players raved about the live cash games and excellent staff. The dealers and tournament directors at Running Aces are top notch and helped the event run smoothly where many card rooms would have been overwhelmed by the tremendous turnout.
The tour will visit four states in the next 45 days, stopping in Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Iowa before returning to Minnesota for a stop at Canterbury Park. For more information and a complete schedule, go to MSPTPoker.com.