The Regional Poker Scene in 2017: How the Midwest Was Won

4 min read

Mid-tier poker tours are often overshadowed by majors such as the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker. But this year, regional poker tours like the Mid-States Poker Tour showed just why they should be taken seriously.

From Colorado to Iowa, and Minnesota to Michigan, poker records were set across the Midwest in 2017 thanks in no small part to tours like the MSPT. (Image: Canterbury Park, Horseshoe Hammond)

Regional Events Breaking Records

In 2017, the MSPT set new records in several states. In March, the tour set the record for largest poker tournament attendance in Colorado history, with 893 entrants taking part in a $350 Regional Event at Golden Gates Casino.

By May, the MSPT FireKeepers had become the largest poker tournament, in terms of both prize pool and attendance, in Michigan history with 1,066 entries. (This also set a record for MSPT tournaments outside of Las Vegas.) This resulted in a record win by a single player in October when Chris Meyers captured a $191,196 first-place prize.

These tournaments offered back-to-back $1,000,000+ prize pools in the Midwest.

In July, the 2017 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship attracted 496 entrants and set the state record for largest major poker tournament ($1,000+ buy-in). Carter Myers won that event for $115,109.

The week before that, the $350 buy-in MSPT Regional Poker Event in Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Casino attracted 1,658 runners in three flights, which made it the largest poker tournament ever held in Wisconsin. The previous record was 1,272 entries set by the World Series of Poker Circuit in four flights back in February. Local attorney Matthew Vignali took home $70,240 for winning that event.

In August, the MSPT $350 Regional Poker Event at Canterbury Park became the biggest tournament by attendance in Minnesota poker history with 1,169 entrants over four starting flights. That bested the previous state record of 1,114 entries in Canterbury’s 2015 $115 buy-in Ultimate $100K, which was set in eight flights. Paul Cross won for $61,911.

But even with all this tournament success across the Midwest, the MSPT still enjoys the occasional jaunt to Las Vegas. And at this past summer’s MSPT Venetian, the regional tour drew 3,273 entries, which made it the the largest poker tournament in both MSPT and Venetian history.

Big Flyover Poker Wins

The Midwest also played host to several other regional poker tours and events throughout the year. For example, Horseshoe Hammond hosted the annual Chicago Poker Classic in March, and saw such players as Jake Hommen, Shawn Rice, and Stephanie Chung claim titles. However, it was Lance Howard who bested a field of 651 entries to win the $2,000 CPC Main Event for $231,237.

That same weekend, Canterbury Park held its 10th annual $1,000 buy-in Minnesota State Poker Championship, which drew 182 runners and saw Jon Hanner come out on top for $45,511.

Ben Zamani continued his hot streak in September by beating out a 926-entry field to win the 2017 River Poker Series $2,500 Main Event at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The reigning WPT Player of the Year earned $347,134 for the victory.

In early October, Canterbury Park also hosted the Fall Poker Classic, a festival that dates back to 2001. Dennis Stevermer topped a field of 375 entries to win the 2017 FPC Main Event for $72,762 after a heads-up deal with Todd Melander.

Also in October, Chicago’s Blake Battaglia topped a field of 1,247 entries to win the WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Hammond $1,675 Main Event for $332,020 and his first gold ring. At the same stop, Will Berry captured the $5,300 High Roller title for $105,000.

This year, you might want to add stops in the Midwest to your tournament schedule.

Editor’s Note: Cardschat and MSPT share a cross-promotional alliance. Chad Holloway is Media Director for MSPT.

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