Day 1b of Mid-States Poker Tour Tropicana Evansville wrapped up with 30 players surviving the 14 levels of play. The second of two flights drew 141 runners, enough to inch past the $250,000 guarantee when combined with the 110 Day 1a players. Kenny Smith finished with the chip lead, bagging 226,000, just ahead of Neil Patel's 216,500.
Smith surged ahead with a late rush in the final few levels. He busted 2013 MSPT Player of the Year Patrick Steele in Level 14 (1,200/2,400/400) just after Steele doubled up to around 55,000. According to Steele, Smith opened from early position and Steele three-bet with from the blinds. Smith four-bet and they got it in with Steele at risk, and Smith turned into a straight for the win.
Day 1b Top 10 Chip Leaders
Also of note, MSPT Team Pro and two-time champ Jason Zarlenga made it through the day with a nice stack of 147,500. Zarlenga has cashed for more than $260,000 on the tour. He overcame some early struggles tangling with Jonathan Dimatteo, who caused Zarlenga fits with an aggressive early bluff or two.
Zarlenga turned the tables in Level 9 (400/800/100) when Dimatteo bet 5,500 in middle position after five players saw a flop. One player called in late position, but Zarlenga check-raised to 16,200. Dimatteo called, and he called Zarlenga's last 9,000 on the turn with the . He trailed Zarlenga's , and the two pair held on the river. Dimatteo didn't recover and busted shortly thereafter.
Zarlenga is looking to become the first ever three-time MSPT champ.
Other player advancing included Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler (129,500), former European Poker Tour champ Tim Vance (103,500), and Adam Lamphere (72,000).
Among the players joining Dimatteo and Steele on the rail: Mark Hodge, Aaron Wallace, Matt Alexander, Steve Anderson, Adam Friedman, Michael Hahn, and last year's winner here, Charlie Dawson. Dawson ran into a set-over-set spot to bust his final bullet.
The 49 players who survived the Day 1 flights combine at 10:30 a.m. local time to play to a winner. You can follow live updates from the event by clicking here.