Ken Baime on Mid-States Poker Tour Majestic Star Casino Win, Family & More
The fifth season of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) is cruising right along. Three stops are in the books after Mark Sandness took down the opening event at Running Aces; Shawn Schoreck won at the Belle of Baton Rouge; and Ken Baime emerged victorious at the Majestic Star Casino last weekend.
Baime, who hails from Glenview, Illinois, was the last man standing in a 301-player field, a feat that earned him a $77,681 payday. Baime, who is married with two teenage boys, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. From there he went on to law school at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, which is where he met his wife. They recently celebrated their 20th anniversary.
PokerNews caught up with Baime after his win to learn a little more about the MSPT’s latest champion.
PokerNews: We know you’re from Glenview, Illinois, but beyond that we don’t know much about you. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
After graduating from law school, we moved back to the Chicago area, where we both began work as attorneys after taking the Bar exam. I practiced law with my father for 20 years, mostly in downtown Chicago. Currently, I am focused on raising my sons, staying involved in the law in a variety of ways, and playing as much poker as I can.
I had played a little bit of poker in high school and college, but not much and just as a social activity with friends. Around 2000, I was invited to a friend's house to play in a home tournament, an invitation that I initially declined, but later accepted on my wife's suggestion, solely as a social function. I came in 37th out of 37 people.
As my "prize,” I received a jester's hat and a copy of Poker for Dummies, and was told that I had to return the next year to pass them onto the next year's loser. I read the book, and returned the next year and came in seventh. Shortly thereafter, I started playing with some of the same guys in some home games, and at some point decided to try going to a casino to play poker. I started out playing infrequently, playing $3-$6 limit, and, as no limit caught on, started playing that. I continued to play more frequently, trying to get better, but poker was really a social activity for me for many years. It's still something I enjoy, and I wouldn't play if I didn't enjoy it, and still I try to have fun while playing, but I am much more focused on trying to play well and trying to win money than I had been when I began.
Although I have played in a number of tournaments of various buy-in amounts over the years, my main focus has almost always been on cash games. I usually play $2-5 no limit. I mostly play at Horseshoe Hammond, and travel to Las Vegas a couple of times a year, including every summer during the WSOP.
How did you come to play the MSPT Majestic Star? Did you buy-in, win a satellite?
I played a satellite into the MSPT on Thursday, and was able to win my seat. I played Day 1a on Friday, and after initially losing a bunch of chips, was able to turn it around and had a pretty good stack most of the night. Then, in a period of four hands — I was in three of them — I lost about 80% of my chips. I don't think I did anything particularly wrong, and I don't remember the hands, but I thought I played them fine, it was just tournament poker. Shortly thereafter, I lost the rest of my chips and went home. I [ended up going] back to Majestic Star and bought directly into Day 1B.
Had you played the MSPT before? What is it about the MSPT that you like?
This was my first MSPT. It was a great experience, and not only because I won. If I hadn't enjoyed it so much, let's face it, I wouldn't have bought into Day 1B. I thought the structure was pretty good; I know some people felt that it was missing a few levels, but some levels had apparently been added and the levels were 50 minutes long, so there was a lot of play for this type of tournament.
Moreover, Bryan Mileski and the MSPT staff are great. They were always present and very accessible. They take their job very seriously and run a great tournament and were constantly hustling all over the place. I talked with them a bunch over the weekend, and they were always gracious and informative. In fact, when I sent Bryan an email with a couple of questions the next day, I received a detailed reply less than 30 minutes later.
I also really like the players in this tournament. One of the goals of the MSPT is to be accessible to recreational players and players with jobs. So, while the tournament had its share of pros and semi-pros, there were also a number of people with jobs. So, even though it was an $1,100 buy-in tournament, the general vibe was very relaxed and fun. That's not to say people didn't play seriously, they did, but most people seemed to be having a good time and were, for the most part, very respectful.
What has been the reaction of your family and friends?
Very supportive and congratulatory. Unfortunately, there were some early problems with the broadcast feed, so some people had given up and gone to bed. My wife watched, and my older son watched until he had to go to bed for school. I asked my younger son today if he was going to watch when it was on the internet, and he said "No. I already know who won." I did have a couple of friends watch some, and I know Dion and his mom watched. Lots of support though, which is really great. I spent a lot of time the next day responding to texts, emails, and phone calls. I haven't been back to play poker since the win, but I have also received a lot of support from fellow poker players, dealers, etc.
Will you be making any big purchases with you prize money?
No big plans for myself for now. I gave each of my sons a little bit of money to buy what they want. The night I got home from the tournament, after talking about the tournament for a while with my wife, I told her to buy herself something nice. She has always been so supportive of my playing in so many ways. My friend Dion always says he can't believe how fortunate I am to have a wife who lets me play so much, and I always respond that she not only lets me play, but enables me to play. So, she completely deserves something nice for herself.
Of course, I'll put some of the money into some more tournaments. I'm in the midst of planning my summer trip to Vegas, and I had been thinking I would play more tournaments this summer, and this obviously cements that.
Other than that, though, I'm really focused more on the win than the money for now. Obviously, the money is huge, but at least for today, the win and validation of my play is more on my mind.
Will you be playing any MSPTs in the future? If so, which ones?
For sure. It's hard for me to plan too far in advance, but I've already calendared ahead the future Majestic tournaments. Also, would like to try to make an appearance at FireKeepers or Ho-Chunk, which are probably the closest for me, but not sure they will fit into my schedule. This was such a great experience and I will definitely play more MSPT's when I can.
For more on the Mid-States Poker Tour, visit msptpoker.com.
Beginning on Thursday, March 13, the MSPT will be at the Golden Gates Casino in Blackhawk, Colorado for the first time. The $1,100 Main Event will feature three starting flights (5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), followed by Day 2 action on Sunday. Then, on Monday, the final table will return to play down to a winner.
“We’re very excited for the MSPT to visit Colorado for the very first time,” said MSPT owner and operator Bryan Mileski. “The venue is among the most scenic we’ve ever visited, and the excitement for a brand new stop seems to be at an all-time high. The MSPT is definitely going to make its mark on Blackhawk.”
PokerNews will be on hand to bring you all the action from the MSPT Golden Gates. Be sure to check it out in our Live Reporting Section.