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A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Stop

A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Stop 0001

This weekend, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) returns to Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in South Central Wisconsin and looks to once again set the state record for largest prize pool – something it has accomplished in the last three visits.

Ho-Chunk has been experiencing record numbers in its satellites, with the $65 super satellites averaging over 100 entries. As such, the Main Event – which kicks off Friday, March 21 and will conclude on Sunday, March 23 – is expected to attract well over 300 players. In addition, the stop will implement a new blind structure, one designed by structure guru Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler.

The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to report all the action in our Live Blog, but in preparation we thought we’d offer you some information on the stop. First we put together a Travel Guide on things to do while in Wisconsin Dells, and now we’ve decided to review the history of the MSPT Ho-Chunk.

Season 3

The MSPT first visited Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in Season 3 from Sept. 8-16, 2012. The $1,100 Main Event, which was the first major event of any kind to be held in the casino, attracted 244 entrants and created a prize pool of $243,600, which was a state record at the time. Straight away the traveling pros were impressed by the venue, while local players had similar feelings toward the tour.

“I was really impressed with how things went here this week,” said Minnesota’s Chris “Fox” Wallace. “This is a perfect location and could definitely be a match made in heaven. The players here are passionate and craving this.”

Likewise, Madison’s Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon fell in love with the MSPT: “This week was a blast. This was my first MSPT event and I couldn’t have been more impressed. I loved the structure and how well things are run. Hopefully the MSPT will be back soon and often.”

The final table ended up including several local players like Derek Harvey, Lester Ray, and Mike Murray, but it was an outside who eventually won the title. Joe Illingworth, a teacher from Newton, Iowa, had qualified for the tournament through a $90 satellite and managed to finish as the overall Day 1 leader. He eventually made it to the final table as the chip leader, and then onward to the winner’s circle.

“I had a lot of fun and the structure is phenomenal,” Illingworth said before addressing the final hand. “I wasn’t too happy having to call with threes, but he had been pushing a lot all-in and I knew I had the best hand at that time. I just figured its time. I wanted to make sure I at least had the best hand going in.”

Indeed he did as his {3-Diamonds}{3-Spades} was ahead of Tim Treffert’s {6-Hearts}{4-Hearts}. The board ran out {a-Clubs}{q-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}{10-Hearts}{k-Hearts} and the first-ever MSPT Ho-Chunk Main Event came to an end.

Here’s a look at the Season 3 MSPT Ho-Chunk final table:

A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Stop 101
The MSPT Season 3 Ho-Chunk final table.

1Joe Illingworth$65,742
2Tim Treffert$35,219
3Mike Murray$22,305
4Reggie Mims$16,435
5Lester Ray$14,088
6Sunshine Williams$10,566
7Chris Wallace$8,922
8Derek Harvey$7,983
9John Orr$6,574
10Erik Burton$5,400

Season 4

The PokerNews Mid-States Poker Tour returned to Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells from March 16-24, 2013 for the first of two stops in Season 4. The tournament attracted 300 entrants and created a prize pool of $299,800, which was a new state record.

Extra tables and dealers were set up to accommodate the huge field of 179 players on Day 1b after 121 players came out for Day 1a. The Main Event was run in a separate space from the poker room, leaving the poker room open for a horde of cash-game players who were also in town for the event.

"This location is so much fun, and the action is incredible,” said MSPT founder Bryan Mileski. “I'm really looking forward to Ho-Chunk becoming a staple on the tour and seeing these players multiple times a year for the foreseeable future. The staff is great, and after two events, they really know how to run an MSPT event and create a great environment for the players. Wisconsin has so many great players that they really deserve some big events like the MSPT, and Ho-Chunk is a great place for it."

Interestingly, Jeremy Dresch earned his fifth MSPT cash and fourth MSPT final table. Dresch already had one bracelet and two runner-up finishes on his résumé before placing fourth at Ho-Chunk for $18,805 — giving him $126,834 in career MSPT earnings.

Patrick Steele of Chelsea, Michigan played his first-ever MSPT event at FireKeepers just two weeks before the stop at Ho-Chunk and placed fourth for $18,364. In Wisconsin, Steele finished in third for $27,772. As you know, both scores helped propel him to the MSPT Season 4 Player of the Year title.

It’s also worth noting that two local players – Larry Ormson and John Orr – were at the final table. Ormson is a familiar face on the World Poker Tour, while Orr, a local businessman, made back-to-back final tables at the MSPT Ho-Chunk. Orr ultimately finished in seventh place for $10,126 while Ormson took fifth for $14,465.

Daniel Bekavac from Chicago, Illinois, was the eventual winner and he earned $76,668 for the win along with the RF Moeller Diamond championship bracelet. Bekavac beat Minnesota pro Ryan Hartmann in a tough heads-up battle, with Hartmann earning $41,949 for his runner-up finish.

You can read all about Bekavac’s win right here on PokerNews.

A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Stop 102
The first MSPT Season 4 Ho-Chunk final table.

1Daniel BekavacChicago, IL$76,668
2Ryan HartmannMinneapolis, MN$41,949
3Patrick SteeleChelsea, MI$27,773
4Jeremy DreschFridley, MN$18,805
5Larry OrmsonElroy, WI$14,465
6Judi GumilaPalos Hills, IL$11,572
7John OrrMiddleton, WI$10,126
8Ryan EthridgeMadison, WI$8,679
9Jon TeppWaunakee, WI$7,233

Eight months later, the MSPT was back at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells from November 2-10. Once again the field increased – 305 entrants created a $305,000 prize pool – and of course that set a new state record.

MSPT Player of the Year contender Brett Kuznia headlined a tough final table. However, it was 22-year old Josh Reichard of Janesville, Wisconsin who walked away with the $78,003 first-place prize and the RF Moeller diamond championship bracelet. The win marked Reichard’s second MSPT cash — he placed 15th in the very first stop at Ho-Chunk in September of 2012.

Reichard, who survived the Day 1b starting flight in the middle of the pack, began final table as the chip leader with 300,000 more than his next closest opponent. The sizable chip lead helped him overcome some stiff competition to notch the biggest score of his career.

You can read all about Reichard’s win right here on PokerNews.

A Historical Look at the Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Stop 103
The second MSPT Season 4 Ho-Chunk Final Table

1stJoshua ReichardBeloit, WI$78,003
2ndMark BornsMadison, WI$42,681
3rdMiroslav SemanisinWisconsin Dells, WI$28,258
4thRobbie WazWazBrooklyn Park, MN$19,133
5thChad HollowayReedsburg, WI$14,718
6thJohn HayesSt. Paul, MN$11,774
7thBrett KuzniaStephen, MN$10,302
8thBrian SmithRhinelander, WI$8,823
9thJason SeitzForest Lake, MN$7,359

For more on the MSPT's upcoming stop at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells, visit Also, don’t forget PokerNews will be live reporting the event, which you can follow in our Live Reporting section.

*Lead photo courtesy of

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