The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) visited the Golden Gates Casino in Blackhawk, Colorado for the first time Thursday night with the first of three starting flights. Day 1a attracted a huge 137 entries, which puts it on pace for a record-breaking field.
After 10 levels of play, Gene Gioia bagged the top stack with 302,100, while Mark Sandness, winner of MSPT Running Aces earlier this year, trails in a distant second with 234,800. John Taitt (193,800), David Gutfreund (192,100), and Charles Anderson (161,900), also bagged top five stacks.
Top 10 Day 1a Stacks
|6||Michael Del Toro||154,100|
Gioia gained most of his stack on one of the last hands of the night. With the first four cards coming , Gioia bet 25,000 and received a call. On the river, he put all of his red T5,000 chips in the center for a bet of 85,000. His opponent immediately called, and Gioia tabled the . The button raised his cards high into the air and slammed the onto the felt. Nobody else had time to catch Gioia after that, as just one more hand was played at his table.
Also among the 40 survivors were Phil Mader (86,000), Ryan Tepen (61,200), and Bryan Devonshire (38,100). Though Devonshire bagged one of the shorter stacks, he still looms as one of the most dangerous players in the tournament with a résumé that includes more than $2 million in live cashes.
Unfortunately, not everyone was so fortunate. Among the players to hit the rail on Day 1a were Blake Bohn, John Whitesel, Lance Harris, Larry Brookes, Matt Kirby, Matthew Alexander, and Christa Pryor. Pryor was actually a former poker dealer seeking success on the other side of the felt with the support of her husband.
“Christa and I actually met at the poker table in 2009,” Jim Pryor explained. “I had admired her for a while, but we had never actually talked. Then one night at a game she was talking about her upcoming move from Colorado to Las Vegas. That's when I learned she had been a poker dealer in Cripple Creek, CO, and was moving to Las Vegas to start working as a dealer at the Rio.”
While Pryor didn't survive the day, she'll have two more opportunities to reenter if she so chooses. The Day 1b flight will commence tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time, and PokerNews will be on the scene to bring all of the live updates.