James Wilson claimed the chip lead and a $2,000 bonus on the very last hand of Day 1a at Mid-States Poker Tour bestbet Jacksonville. He topped 31 survivors of 14 levels of play out of 185 total runners, a field nearly big enough to hit the $200,000 guarantee before Day 1b even dawns. Wilson scored $61,473 for second place at the last MSPT of 2014 at Canterbury Park.
Others joining Wilson for Sunday's Day 2 include Austin McCullers (242,000), Toby Boas (239,500), Timothy Forsberg (234,000), Men “Not the Master” Nguyen (221,500), former MSPT Player of the Year Patrick Steele (200,500), Judd Greenagel (145,000), Mark Hodge (109,500), Jason Zarlenga (89,000), and Steve Anderson (42,000). Hodge also made the final table at Canterbury, where he finished seventh.
Wilson's decision to gamble on the final hand of the night paid off, separating him from a tight bunch at the top of the counts. He opened to 7,000 in early position with blinds of (1,200/2,400/300) and saw an opponent make it 35,000 on the button. Wilson called, and the two got it in on an flop. Wilson had flopped a set with and he easily held against .
Boas also owes his massive stack to a huge late pot. After Zarlenga opened early to 5,000, Boas made it 15,000. Chan Nguyen cold-called in the small blind, and Zarlenga came along to see flop. Zarlenga opted to lead into the raiser for 22,000. Boas was undeterred, shoving all in for 51,600. Nguyen cold-called once again, and Zarlenga called as well. The two checked down the and , and Boas slapped down the for top set. He had dodged two flush draws, Nguyen's and Zarlenga's .
All of the players in that pot ultimately bagged up, but a number of competitors weren't so fortunate. Tour pro Matt Kirby, as well as regulars Adam Lamphere, “East Coast” Mike Ross, and Jim Boone also fell during the course of play. The most decorated player in the field, 2004 Main Event champion Greg Raymer, also found himself busto after failing to get much going in the early levels. The good-natured Raymer at least kept his tables entertained with friendly banter for the duration of his run.
Raymer and the rest of the vanquished still have one more day to qualify for this burgeoning prize pool, as Saturday's Day 1b is expected to attract another sizable field. Cards are scheduled to fly at 2 p.m., and PokerNews will once again provide live updates.