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A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Running Aces Stop

A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Running Aces Stop 0001

Season 5 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) will kick of next week at the Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus, Minn. From Feb. 8-16, the horse track/card room hybrid will host a series of satellites culminating with the Main Event beginning on Friday, Feb. 14. The tournament is expected to draw players from across the Midwest, and of course you'll be able to follow the action in our Live Reporting Section.

“Working with Bryan [Mileski] and the MSPT brand has been something great to watch grow,” Running Aces Marketing Director Aaron Bedessem said in an interview with PokerNews. “We have worked well with the brand to help build it from only a few stops in Minnesota to a Midwest brand that has a great following. The growth MSPT has been able to accomplish has been great in drawing in more regional players to our poker room.”

Running Aces has been a part of the MSPT dating all the way back to Season 1; in fact, the property played host to the third-ever MSPT event back in April 2010. Back then it was called the Minnesota State Poker Tour as each stop was limited to that state, but it eventually morphed into the Mid-States Poker Tour after expanding outside the state's borders. Obviously a lot has changed in the past four years.

Season 1

That first stop at Running Aces attracted 183 players including Joe Matheson, an electrical engineer from Andover that won his seat via a $90 single-table satellite. Amazingly he turned that small investment into $51,349 when he won the tournament.

“I play up here (at Running Aces) in the $65 tournaments, and the $230 tournament on Saturday once in a while, but that’s it,” Matheson said of the tournament. “That’s the biggest I’ve ever played.”

Here’s a look at the Season 1 MSPT Running Aces final table:

Joe Matheson & Everett Carlton.
Joe Matheson & Everett Carlton.

1Joe Matheson$51,349
2Mario Hudson$25,321
3John Alexander$15,936
4Darren Hendrickson$12,395
5Everett Carlton$10,624
6Tony Moses$7,968
7Brian Schallhammer$6,906
8Kuong Yek$6,020
9Matt Leshovsky$4,958

Season 2

The MSPT was back at Running Aces from Feb. 16-20, 2011 for its second stop at the venue. The field of 201 runners was the largest ever up to that point, and after three days of intense play, it was Jason Seitz, a gas station owner, that walked away with the $56,295 first-place prize and a RF Moeller Championship diamond bracelet.

Seitz, who also won the Heartland Poker Tour Mille Lacs in 2006 or $47,005, took down the MSPT event by defeating a tough final 12 that included three former MSPT winners in MSPT Hinckley champ Matt Hyland; MSPT Mille Lacs champ Jeremy Dresch; and amazingly Matheson, the defending champ at Running Aces.

Matheson came close to a title defense but ultimately fell in third place to Seitz. “I didn’t have any time to try to satellite in this week,” Seitz explained after the win. “But I didn’t want to miss the MSPT so I just direct-bought.”

Here’s a look at the Season 2 MSPT Running Aces final table:

Jason Seitz
Jason Seitz

1Jason Seitz$56,295
2Jeremy Dresch$27,760
3Joe Matheson$17,470
4Hank Mlekoday$13,585
5Bob Beedle$11,650
6Sam Desilva$8,735
7David Mandt$7,570
8Dan Shogren$6,600
9Tim Mieczkowski$5,435

Season 3

The MSPT exploded in Season 3, and the 311 players that turned out at Running Aces – the largest up to that point – created a juicy prize pool of $309,600. The man that walked away with the title and $79,185 in prize money was Rodger Johnson of Grand Forks, ND. Johnson, who was in the farming and banking business, was actually the second in his family to win an MSPT as his brother, Brian Johnson, won the Season 1 stop at Northern Lights Casino.

“I come to Minneapolis to play some,” said Johnson, who actually flew himself to the stop. “I saw it on the internet so I came down. I get out to play quite a bit.”

Johnson direct bought into Day 1b and advanced to Day 2 with just sixteen big blinds. He got those chips in with {q-}{9-} offsuit at one point and managed to survive against {a-}{j-}.

“I won that hand then started picking up some cards,” Johnson explained. “But I played the entire tournament, both days, without picking up aces … My brother and I have a little competition going about who’s got the larger cash. His was over $50k; he’s had me beat until now. This gives me a lot of room.”

Here’s a look at the Season 3 MSPT Running Aces final table:

Rodger Johnson
Rodger Johnson

1Rodger Johnson$79,185
2Erick Wright$43,328
3Elias Monette$28,686
4Leo Fussy$19,423
5Sam Hanson$14,941
6Rob Westrom$11,952
7David Westrom$10,458
8Jeff Grobe$8,964
9Tom Westbrock$7,470

Season 4

The MSPT Running Aces continued to grow in Season 4. From Feb. 15-17,2013, 367 players made their way to Forest Lake for the $1,100 Main Event, which ended up with a $367,000 prize pool. David Gonia, a local player in the Twin Cities area, kicked off the season with a win for $93,940 after running over the final table, including a brief ten-minute heads-up match against Peixin Liu, a regular at Running Aces.

You can read all about Gonia's win right here on PokerNews.

The stop also featured a live-streamed table throughout the main event that broadcast on a fifteen-minute delay with hole cards. It proved to be a big hit for online railbirds, and that was due in no small part to notable players at the feature table including two-time MSPT champ Matt Kirby; millionaire John Morgan; former Running Aces champ Rodger Johnson; and 2011 MSPT Player of the Year Nate Fair.

Here’s a look at the Season 4 MSPT Running Aces final table:

David Gonia
David Gonia

1David Gonia$93,940
2Peixin Liu$51,401
3Matt Alexander$34,031
4Dylan Eggen$23,042
5Pham Christian$17,725
6Nate Franklin$14,180
7Bob Van Syckle$12,407
8Bill Romer$10,635
9Terry Eisenman$8,862

For more on the MSPT's upcoming stop at Running Aces, visit either or Also, don’t forget PokerNews will be live reporting the event, which you an follow in our Live Reporting section.

*Lead photo courtesy of

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