Craig Smith Wins MSPT Season Opener at New and Improved Tropicana Evansville Casino

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The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) recently concluded its Season 9 opener down at Tropicana Evansville, which is situated on the Indiana side of the Ohio River on the Kentucky border. The $365 regional event drew 658 entries, and after a final table deal, Craig Smith walked away with the title.

Craig Smith, MSPT Tropicana Evansville
Craig Smith earned the largest score of his career by winning the MSPT Tropicana Evansville for $24,750. (Image: MSPT)

Tropicana Comes Ashore

For nearly 22 years, Tropicana Evansville operated as Indiana’s first riverboat casino. But late last year they became the first in the state to transition to a land-based casino with a new 75,000 square-foot facility.

The new Tropicana Evansville entertainment complex located is now a single-level 24-hour casino featuring 1,175 slot games, 33 table games, a brand-new room and a High Limit Room. That’s in addition to a 243-room hotel tower, a 95-room boutique hotel, five dining options, a riverfront pavilion, and a 1,660-vehicle attached parking garage.

The new Tropicana poker room in Indiana. (Image: MSPT)

The tournament marked the MSPT’s 22nd Regional Event ever held, and the third at Tropicana Evansville.

The MSPT first visited Tropicana Evansville for a Regional Event back in 2016 when Adam Thomas prevailed over a field of 416 entries to win $30,674. In Season 8, Jason Gwinn walked away with a $35,443 first-place prize after coming out on top of a 511-entry field.

More recently in August 2017, the MSPT hosted the $1,100 buy-in 2017 MSPT Indiana State Poker Championship at Tropicana Evansville, which drew 320 entries and saw Satish Thakur claim the title and $71,047 top prize.

Let’s Make a Deal

In the latest tournament, 72 players got paid including MSPT Season 4 Ho-Chunk champ Dan Bekavac (57th for $667), three-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner Robert Castoire (53rd for $704), MSPT Season 5 Tropicana Evansville champ Charles Dawson (39th for $743), and Matthew Steiner (9th for $3,429).

At the final table, with eight players remaining, the idea of an ICM chop sprung up. The Independent Chip Model calls for a remaining prize pool to be split proportionally according to the size of players’ chip stacks. That left 51-year-old Smith of Lexington, Kentucky, who was playing in his first-ever MSPT event and holding the chip lead with 3.14 million seeing a $24,740 payday. Right behind him with 2 million chips was William Willman, who received $17,488 for second place.

“I wasn’t inclined to chop, but everyone else wanted to,” said Smith. “I usually don’t mind chopping three ways, so when I realized I would already be getting three-way money at that point, it made sense, especially when I learned I’d get the title as well.”

Given the tournament ended with an eight-way chop, Smith, who owns a paint and dent repair company, chose pocket kings to hold in his winner photo.

“One hand that was pivotal in the MSPT Trop Regional was when I had pocket kings,” he explained. “I raised under the gun and the player in the big blind called … Long story short, we got it in with him holding middle pair and a flush draw to my turned set. Fortunately, the river paired the board and I made a full house.”

The MSPT is now at JACK Cleveland Casino for its first-ever stop in Ohio. This weekend they’ll play host to the $1,100 buy-in $200K GTD Cleveland Poker Open.

Final Table Results
1 Craig Smith (Lexington, KY) $24,750*
2 William Willman (Mount Vernon, IN) $17,488*
3 Sidney Dill (Evansville, IN) $16,042*
4 Steven Frischkorn (Indianapolis, IN) $15,817*
5 David Dang (Evansville, IN ) $14,275*
6 James Will (Evansville, IN) $12,990*
7 Barry Wolff (Clarksville, TN) $10,516*
8 Christopher Allgood (Evansville, IN) $9,455*
9 Matthew Steiner (Avon, IN) $3,429

*Denotes 8-way ICM chop    

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