Like moths to a flame, poker players from around the country swarmed to Firekeepers Casino to play in the $1,110 Mid-Stakes Poker Tour’s Michigan State Poker Championship and nearly tripled the $1 million prize-pool guarantee. The 2,883 entries set a new record for the casino for a poker tournament, blowing past the venue’s previous record of 2,479 set just in May.
And the man who ended up with all the chips is Travis Young, who bagged his poker career-best $297,997 and a giant trophy.
“I really came into today with no expectations and ended up running really well and ended picking some good spots to make moves which ended up paying off,” Young told a MSPT pool reporter after what would turn out to be a poker marathon.
Young did sniff a World Series of Poker Circuit ring at his local casino in Wisconsin in 2019, but finished second for $14,433 — his largest cash until this one.
“I’m pretty speechless, honestly. I basically just (made) 10-times my career earnings with just this one tournament, so that’s pretty amazing,” he said.
It sure is, but not uncommon for players going deep in MSPT events. Since 2009, the MSPT brings its branded series to players around the United States who may not normally have access to events with guarantees of mid-six figures or more. And they feed their $1,110 headliners with plenty of satellites and smaller tournaments at each stop.
Greg Raymer, 2004 WSOP Main Event Champ, is a fan.
“The MSPT is a well-run event with a good price range,” he said. “You’re going to get a lot of local amateurs that want to take a shot at a big event when it comes to town. With the satellites, it’s an event literally anyone who visits a poker room can afford to play. You get a great cross section of players from the traveling pros to local pros. You also get a large number of recreational players who’re there to take their shot and have some fun.”
More than $172 million has been won in MSPT events since inception.
The Michigan State Poker Championship was a three-day affair, and predictably attracted more and more entries as the days melted away: 672 in Day 1a, 990 in 1b; and a whopping 1,221 in 1c.
Of those, 341 returned to the casino in Battle Creek on Sunday to finish what they started. Unfortunately, 44 of those who bagged the night before missed the payout line, as the top 297 were the ones made at least $2,500.
As always, the big chunk of the prize-pool went to those who ended up on top:
Top nine finishers of the 2023 MSPT Michigan State Poker Championship
- Travis Young, $297,977
- Brian Hou, $236,956
- Cobi Cobian, $221,666
- Brad Sailor, $175,2816
- James Tedrow, $153,928
- Mark Stump, $89,440
- Jeffrey Kuc, $69,875
- Nick Ahmadi, $52,826,
- Richard Viebranz, $41,925
After the match, Young made sure to thank those who railed him for the hours and hours it took to get the finish line.
“I want to thank my buddy Asa for being here on my rail, to all my family and friends who were following along back home, and to my girlfriend Jessica for all the support.”
Cheer to that, Travis.
The next MSPT event takes place this weekend at Silverado Casino in Deadwood, South Dakota, with the $1,110 buy-in $200,000 guaranteed Deadwood Shootout. Satellites began on Sept. 22.