Day 1a of the Mid-States Poker Tour Running Aces Harness Park attracted 156 entries, and after 14 levels of play just 29 remained with Andrew Null and his stack of 309,500 leading the way. Mark Sandness, who took down the tournament the last time the MSPT rolled through town, began his title defense with a strong showing, as he finished fourth in chips with 189,000.
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
Null owes his stack primarily to one massive pot, and it was the biggest of the night. In one of the first hands at Level 13 (1,000/2,000/300), Brady Nissen had about 160,000 to start, and he got it all in holding with a board reading . Null covered him and had the better hand with set of sixes — the . Null only needed to fade a queen and jack on the river, and while paint hit the board, it was the , and Null dragged the enormous pot while a disappointed Nissen hit the rail.
Null had about 350,000 at that point, and he coasted through the last two levels of the night.
Sandness arrived just before the first break and got things rolling early by busting Adam Lamphere's first bullet. He bet-called on a flop with before calling Lamphere's subsequent barrels after an turn and river to reveal an all-in bluff of for a missed straight draw. Sandness continued to accumulate chips, despite a bump or two along the way, and ended with 189,000.
Others joining Null and Sandness in the lineup for Sunday's Day 2 included Rodney Colson (247,000), Lamphere (197,000), Ervin Bjerga (187,000), John "JohnnyGstaks" Hayes (148,500), Peixin Liu (118,000), Jason Seitz (107,500), Jeff Bryan (56,500), and Steve Belland (47,000). Belland and Bryan finished third and second, respectively, at the MSPT Grand Falls back in August.
Plenty of notables failed to make it through, but they can take another crack on Day 1b if they so choose. Among those to fall were Jason Zarlenga, coming off of a win at MSPT Potawatomi for his second MSPT title; Tony "Lazer" Lazar, Aaron Johnson, Jeremy Dresch, Brandon Meyers, David Gonia, Nick Pupillo, Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler, Matt Kirby, Lance Harris,, and Brett Kuznia.
"Chainsaw" tried grinding his trademark short-stack game, but couldn't find a spot to double up. He ultimately jammed it in for less than 10 big blinds with the and was called by Nissen's , before Nissen had busted. A run out spelled the end for Kessler, who comes into the tournament coming off of one of the biggest wins of his career.
Kuznia, meanwhile, continued his incredibly poor run of luck in MSPT events when he jammed in on a final board of , only to see Mario Hudson turn over the for a straight flush.
Day 1b is set to kick off at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, and the PokerNews Live Reporting team will be on hand to capture all the action. Be sure to visit our PokerNews Live Reporting section then for all the latest and greatest from the MSPT Running Aces Harness Park.