This past weekend, Ken Pates defeated a field of 338 players to claim an $87,698 first-place prize at the Mid-States Poker Tour's second Season 5 visit to Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus, Minn. It was Pates' second visit to an MSPT final table this year after the Minnesotan took fifth at Canterbury Park back in April.
Notables Matt Kirby,Jonathan Olson, Minnesota business magnate and high roller John Morgan, Marc "Poker Joker" Powers, Jeff Bryan, and Larry Ormson all fell before the money.
The early levels also saw eventual heads-up combatants Pates andDennis Stevermer chip up considerably and take the top two spots in the counts. Pates had already built a top-five stack when he and Josh Dahlstrom got it all in on a flop of 9x6x3x, with Pates at risk for more than 200,000 in a monster pot. Pates had flopped a set with 3x3x, while Dahlstrom had elected to roll with his KxKx. No help came on the last two streets for Dahlstrom, and Pates took the chip lead.
After the elimination of John Wilhelmy on the bubble, MSPT Canterbury champion Mike Wilmes (30th - $2,014), Tony Hartmann (28th - $2,014), defending champ Mark Sandness (22nd - $2,274), John "JohnnyGstaks" Hayes (18th - $2,777), and start-of-Day 2 leader Andrew Null (15th - $3,492) collected payouts before heading out the doors. The end came in brutal fashion for Sandness when he jammed all in with A♥K♥ on a 9♠2♠A♦5♦ board and was called by Steve Vang's A♠10♥. Vang binked the 10♠ on the river for two pair and that was all she wrote for Sandness.
After the elimination of Blake Warner in 11th, the final table was set.
Former MSPT champions Jason Seitz, Jeremy Dresch, and Ben Marsh headlined the final 10, but Seitz and Dresch were dispatched in eighth and ninth places, respectively, following the elimination of Bill Perpich in 10th. William Vincent went out in seventh, and 90 minutes of six-handed play led to Marsh exiting after a failed limp-shove with 7♣6♣ in a blind battle against the unimproved A♠5♣ of Ervin Bjerga.
Dan Shogren followed in fifth when his A♣K♠ was outdrawn all in preflop by the A♦J♣ of Stevermer, who hit trips. Next out the door was short-stacked Vang in fourth after Bjerga called his shove with the Q♠J♥ and hit a pair of jacks on a J♣9♠8♠4♠4♥ board to beat the K♥10♣ of Vang. Bjerga’s willingness to gamble preflop finally caught up to him though, when he lost nearly all of his stack calling the 40-big blind shove of Pates, whose queens held against pocket sevens. A crippled Bjerga busted shortly after in third.
Pates and Stevermer played a short and very aggressive heads-up match that ended when the board read K♠J♥6♠2♥ and Stevermer bet 200,000. Pates raised to 600,000, and Stevermer pushed all in. Pates made the call.
"I'm on a draw," Stevermer announced as he got out of his seat, throwing down 5♥3♥ for a gutshot and a flush draw. "Good call."
Pates flipped K♦Q♠ for top pair. The two awaited the river card, and the dealer placed the 6♦ on the felt, pairing the board and keeping Pates' kings best. The tournament director counted down stacks, and Pates had his opponent covered by about 100,000. He embraced the small crowd that had gathered on the rail for him before shaking Stevermer's hand and accepting his congratulations.
The MSPT will be at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells this weekend. For more information visit msptpoker.com.