Day 1a of the Mid-States Poker Tour's annual visit to Grand Falls Casino just outside of Sioux Falls, South Dakota ended with 23 runners surviving out of 110 entrants. A familiar name lurks in second place after 14 levels: Mark Hodge, who has already racked up six cashes on the tour this year for more than $50,000. The Minnesota native bagged 145,000, second only to Alan Curl's 241,500.
That's not the only place Hodge finds himself in second. MSPT Team Pro Blake Bohn has built a solid lead with 3,000 Player of the Year points after taking down MSPT Meskwaki, but Hodge sits well within striking distance at 2,590. Last year, the winner of this tournament got 1,200 points. With Bohn not returning to defend his MSPT Grand Falls title, Hodge has a golden opportunity to take the lead.
Top 10 Day 1a Chip Counts
Hodge needed a stroke of good luck to bag up. In the penultimate level of the night (1,000/2,000/3,000), Hodge saw a flop of with position on two opponents. Todd Melander fired a continuation-bet of 8,000, and Hodge called. The big blind made it 22,000, and only Hodge continued. On the turn, the big blind bet 27,000 and called Hodge's shove of 28,500 more with the . Hodge held the and needed help. He called for a four or six, and the did indeed arrive.
Others set to join Hodge and Curl for Sunday's Day 2 included Judd Greenagel (133,500), Matt Alexander (133,500), Max Bergquist (131,500), Peixin Liu (116,500), Phil Mader (102,500), Taylor Tollefson (66,000), Larry Ormson (58,500), and Melander (53,500).
Alexander's willingness to give action pays off when he flops a big hand, as he did when he got an opponent to commit stacks on a flop with . Alexander had flopped trips in the big blind with , and he easily held for a pot of over 50,000 at 500/1,000/100 blinds.
Players culled during the course of Day 1a play will have two more bullets available for Saturday's Day 1b, which starts at 4 p.m. Among them: Duane Gerleman, Mike Ross, Mark Fink, "DQ" Dan Hendrickson, Mike Lang, "Red Bull" Robbie Thompson, Aaron Johnson, and Alexander's fellow team pro Matt Kirby.