The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) returns to Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells this weekend for the first of two stops in Season 5. This marks the fourth time the MSPT has visited the property, and each of the three prior stops set a state record for largest prize pool. If all goes accordingly, a new record will be set on Saturday.
“It’s always exciting to return to Wisconsin. Each of the last three stops at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells has set a state record for largest prize pool, and we’re confident we’ll do it again in Season 5,” said MSPT founder and operator Bryan Mileski. “The qualifier numbers are at an all-time high, and the poker room manager tells me the energy in the room in palpable. It’s going to be one heck of a stop.”
Indeed, the location in South Central Wisconsin affords players and their family plenty of things to do such as the area’s popular indoor waterparks, which were highlighted in our Travel Guide. As far as poker is concerned, MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells has developed a rich history thanks in no small part to the quality of players it attracts. Among those to play the stop in the past were online legend Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon, MSPT phenom Kou Vang, and five-time World Series of Poker finalist Eddie Blumenthal.
“I’ll be buying in,” Blumenthal told PokerNews. “I'm excited for the tourney because there aren't very many MTTs in Wisconsin that are big enough to appeal to the pros. I wish more tours would come to Wisconsin and would run a lot of satellites to build the field just like the MSPT does.”
While Blumenthal has the means to direct buy, many players have turned to more affordable options such as satellites, home games, and local bar leagues.
“For the past three tournaments, our poker group of eight players participate in our own mini-tournament in which the winner takes the full pot to pay the entry fee of the MSPT and play for the rest of us,” construction worker Bob Day explained. “We break down the action with 51% going to the winner and 7% going to each of the other players who helped fund the seat. The first time we did this our rep made the final table..
One hopeful amateur who qualified via one of Ho-Chunk’s satellites was Melissa Verrett, the wife of the Poker Players Alliance’s Wisconsin State Director Steve Verrett. Both plan to play the Main Event, though Melissa will begin with a little luck already in her pocket.
In one of the qualifiers, Melissa was sitting with just 3,100 in chips on the bubble with 3,000/6,000 blinds. She was under the gun – meaning she would be all in the next hand no matter what – when someone at another table shoved holding , got a call, and lost. Melissa barely squeaked in, but now she’ll be one of a few hundred competing for nearly $100K.
Another player who qualified through a satellite is family man Aaron Olson, who lives in nearby Richland Center, Wisconsin.
"I qualified by winning the $65 MTT satellite to get into the $250 MTT satellite, and then qualified to the Main Event through that,” Olson said. “I am excited about the MSPT coming to town because I have never played in one and I'm ready to test my skills versus the best tournament players in the area. I've recently made the transition from online to live play and have done quite well, so I'm hoping to make some noise in this one."
The MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells Main Event, which will be the first time the MSPT utilizes a new structure designed by Allen Kessler, will kick off Friday, March 21 at 4 p.m. local time with Day 1a action. Day 1b will be held on the same time Saturday, and then the returning players will come back on Sunday to play down to a winner.
Of course the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to report all the action in our Live Blog.