Season 5 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) is set to conclude next weekend at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota with a $1,100 buy-in $200,000 guarantee Main Event that runs from Friday, Dec. 12 through Sunday, Dec. 14.
The stop, which is actually happening now with a series of qualifiers, will also bring to a close a heated 2014 MSPT Player of the Year race. Right now, Mike Deis leads the race with 3,350 points, but not far behind at 3,150 points is MSPT Team Pro Kou Vang, while Jason Zarlenga, who has won two events so far this season, sits in third with 3,100 points. Likewise, Team Pro Blake Bohn sits in fourth with 2,900 points.
All players need to do to earn valuable POY points is finish in the money, a feat that will earn them an automatic 50 points. Then, depending on the size of the field, it only goes up the deeper their run. Assuming the event attracts more than 300 players, which it should considering when they visited Canterbury Park earlier this season the tournament set a state-record field of 447 entrants — Mike Wilmes won that event for $108,984 – then the eventual winner will earn 1,400 POY points.
Given that math (though it could be more if the field swells), 15 players are still alive for the POY title including MSPT regular Steve Anderson (1,950 points); World Series of Poker bracelet winner and MSPT Meskwaki champ Nick Jivkov (2,000 points); winner of the largest MSPT in history Drake Bronk (2,200); and Wisconsin native and consummate final tablist Ken Payne (2,450 points).
“Last year the MSPT POY race came down to the wire,” said MSPT owner and operator Bryan Mileski. “Patrick Steele ultimately won the title by making the final table at last year’s finale. I won’t be surprised if it once again comes down to the MSPT Canterbury Park final table. It should be exciting.”
Indeed, to help make sense of the race we’ve decided to take a closer look at the MSPT Season 5 POY race. Here’s a look at the top five on the leaderboard:
Mike Deis (3,350 POY Points)
Final Tables: 3
Deis kicked off his incredible year back in March when he made the final table of the MSPT Majestic Star, ultimately finishing sixth for $11,725. Not too shabby for his first-ever MSPT cash. Two weeks later, he was back at a MSPT final table at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells, which is where he placed fifth for $18,404.
In May, Deis had his best result to date finishing runner-up to Zarlenga in the MSPT FireKeepers Casino for $58,589. Since then he’s added a 26th-place finish in the season’s second stop at the MSPT Majestic Star for $1,989, and a 17th-place finish at the MSPT Potawatomi Casino for $3,714.
Kou Vang (3,150 POY Points)
Final Tables: 3
As a member of Team MSPT Pro, Vang is one of the more visible players on the tour, and that was especially true early on in Season 5. He kicked things off back in February by finishing runner-up in the MSPT Belle of Baton Rouge for $21,032, and then two weeks later he was at another final table when he took eighth in the MSPT Majestic Star for $8,794. A week after that he finished fifth in the MSPT Golden Gates Casino for $22,650.
Those were Vang’s best results of the season, but since then he’s notched five more cashes including a 29th-place finish in the MSPT’s largest-event, which took place at the Venetian in Las Vegas over the summer.
Jason Zarlenga (3,100 POY Points)
Final Tables: 2
Prior to Season 5, Michigan’s Zarlenga had a single MSPT cash, which was a paltry $2,324 for a 22nd-place finish. Now, thanks to three cashes in Season 5, he is the MSPT’s all-time money winner.
Zarlenga’s incredible year began back in May when he took down the MSPT FireKeepers Casino for $101,482. After a lackluster summer in Vegas, Zarlenga was back on the tour in September and promptly won the MSPT Potawatomi Casino for $120,164, which made him just the third place in MSPT history to win multiple titles.
Tack on a 23rd-place finish in the MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells for $2,350, and Zarlenga is in the thick of the POY race.
Blake Bohn (2,900 POY Points)
Final Tables: 2
Bohn was the first-ever member of Team MSPT Pro, and he earned his stripes this season. He nearly won the first stop of the season, but ended up finishing runner-up in the MSPT Running Aces Harness Park for $49,741. He then notched 22nd and 31st-place finishes at Golden Gates Casino and Canterbury Park respectively, before finally breaking through at Grand Falls Casino in Sioux Falls back in August.
It was there Bohn finished as a massive Day 1 chip leader and used that stack to navigate his way to his first MSPT title, not to mention $54,607 in prize money. More recently, Bohn finished 33rd for $2,425 at the MSPT Golden Gates Casino.
Final Tables: 2
Another Season 5 rookie, Michael Lang scored his first-ever MSPT cash back in April at the MSPT Meskwaki, which is where he placed 21st for $2,818. Later that month, he was at Canterbury Park and finished runner up for $60,547.
In September, he took 35th in the MSPT Running Aces Harness Park for $2,014, and then last month he returned to Meskwaki in Tama, Iowa where he once again finished runner-up in a MSPT event, this time taking home $60,600.
Can Lang return to Canterbury Park and redeem himself? Even if he cant’ win it, we’re sure he’d be happy with a deep run that results in him being crowned the Season 5 POY.
Here’s a more thorough look at the 15 players currently in contention for the MSPT Season 5 POY:
|Player||POY Points||Season 5 Cashes||S5 Final Tables||S5 Titles||S5 Winnings|
|David St. John||2,000||2||1||0||$27,787|
The MSPT Canterbury Park, which requires patrons to be just 18 years of age to play, is currently hosting a series of qualifiers. Here’s a look at the entire schedule:
|Friday, Dec. 5||2:30 p.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Saturday, Dec. 6||10:30 a.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Saturday, Dec. 6||2:30 p.m.||Super Satellite||$65|
|Sunday, Dec.7||2:30 p.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Tuesday, Dec. 9||6:30 p.m.||Super Satellite||$65|
|Wednesday, Dec. 10||6:30 p.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Thursday, Dec. 11||12:30 p.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Thursday, Dec. 11||6:30 p.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Friday, Dec. 12||10:30 a.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Friday, Dec. 12||4:00 p.m.||Main Event Day 1a||$1,100|
|Saturday, Dec. 13||10:30 a.m.||Main Event Qualifier||$260|
|Saturday, Dec. 13||4:00 p.m.||Main Event Day 1b||$1,100|
|Sunday, Dec. 14||10:30 a.m.||Main Event Day 2||-|
Both Main Event starting flights will play 14 40-minute levels. Players who advance from Day 1a are not eligible to play in Day 1b. The remaining players from each flight will combine on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. and play until a champion is crowned. The Main Event final table will be broadcast on a 15-minute delay with hole cards on both MSPTPoker.com and PokerNews using RFID technology.
For more information on the MSPT Canterbury Park, visit msptpoker.com.