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MSPT Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells Day 1b: Berlowski Edges Former Champ Bronk for Chip Lead

Ben Berlowski

Day 1b of Mid-States Poker Tour Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells attracted 202 entries to bring the total field up to 349, which created a prize pool of $349,000. After 14 levels of play, Benjamin Berlowski bagged 240,000 to end with the chip lead, which was just a nose over Drake Bronk (239,500), who won the biggest event in tour history when he topped a field of 854 to take home $163,870 at the MSPT Mid-Season Championship at the Venetian back in June.

Also among the day’s 37 survivors were MSPT pro Matt Alexander (223,500), Ken Payne (213,000), last week's champion Ken Pates (192,500), MSPT Player of the Year leader Mike Deis (172,000), Matt Kirby (149,000), defending champ Jason Sell (134,000), Tony Lazar (79,000), and Jason Zarlenga (53,000). All of those players will join the 24 Day 1a survivors, which includes big stacks Don Coy (282,500), Rob Wazwaz (254,500), and Jason Mirza (253,000).

Top 10 Day 1b Chip Counts

1Benjamin Berlowski,240,000
2Drake Bronk239,500
3Matthew Alexander223,500
4Zach Tabak215,500
5Ken Payne213,000
6Ken Pates192,500
7Sam De Silva184,000
8Mike Deis172,000
9Jason Meyer152,000
10Matt Kirby149,500

Berlowski's most crucial hand came late in the night during Level 13 (1,000/2,000/300). After a {k-Diamonds}{10-Hearts}{j-Spades} flop, he got all in for his last 48,800 with monster stack Kevin Fiedler.

Berlowski: {a-Diamonds}{a-Hearts}
Fiedler: {k-}{j-}

Fiedler looked poised to add to his already-hefty stack, but running {2-Spades}{2-Clubs} ended those hopes by giving Berlowski aces up. Meanwhile, Bronk seemed to steadily climb throughout the 14 levels of play, not owing his stack to any one pot.

As for Sell. he spent almost the whole day far below average. His chances of a successful title defense looked rather bleak as he toted a stack of 10,700 as late as Level 12 (800/1,600/200). He then shoved over a 3,600 open from Lazar, who made a reluctant call. Lazar was unable to hit with the {k-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds} against Sell's {a-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} as the community ran out a dry {3-Hearts}{q-Hearts}{8-Spades}{5-Clubs}{6-Clubs}. The double up started a late climb for Sell that culminated in bagging an above-average stack.

A number of notables failed to match Sell's survival skills. They included Steve Belland, Chad Holloway, Terry Ring, Mike "Schneids" Schneider, Tom Midena, Kou Vang, Larry Ormson, John Hayes, Mark Kroon, Jonathan Olson, and reigning Player of the Year Pat Steele.

Vang got coolered in brutal fashion early in the day when he bet 900 on a {3-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds} flop from middle position, but Jason Meyer bumped it to 2,200 on the button. Vang made the call, and the two checked the {j-Spades} turn. A {5-Diamonds} completed the board, and Vang checked. Meyer bet 3,000, and Vang raised to what looked like 11,800. Meyer shoved all in, and Vang snapped. Meyer showed {j-Clubs}{2-Clubs} for jacks full and Vang disgustedly flicked {3-Clubs}{3-Diamonds} into the middle, showing a lower full house.

Vang reentered, but the second bullet went no better than the first, ending with a lost race to Peter Ruszkiewicz. The Minnesotan will likely have more work to do to catch Deis atop the Player of the Year leaderboard, especially with Deis looking to add to his lead on Day 2.

The surviving 61 players from the two starting flights will return at 10 a.m. Sunday morning to play down to a winner. Just 36 of them will secure a payday, meaning 25 will leave empty handed. The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand to capture all the action, so be sure to stay tuned to see who captures the $90,632 first-place prize.

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