There is only one stop remaining in Season 6 of the Mid-States Poker Tour – the MSPT Canterbury Park from December 4-13 – and MSPT Player of the Year race is coming down to the wire.
Right now, Mark Hodge sits atop with 3,540 points, but with a $200,000 guaranteed prize pool at Canterbury, the stop will award a minimum of 1,200 points (more likely 1,400-1,500 depending on the size of the field). That means a slew or players have a chance to catch Hodge.
Here are things stack up heading into the finale:
The eventual winner will receive a $1,100 Main Event seat to the MSPT Mid-Season Championship at The Venetian in Las Vegas as well as $400 cash toward airfare. They will also receive $250 to every MSPT event in Season 7 (up to $5,000), and this year the 2015 Player of the Year will receive a $5,000 Custom Home Audio package from Holm Audio.
Originally from Indiana, Hodge has called the Twin Cities home for 25 years, and he's since become a tour regular. Decades ago, he was a partner in a technology consulting firm, one that eventually went public.
"Right place at right time, so I retired young," says Hodge, who retired in 2001. Even so, he went back to school to get his Masters in education, which lead to him working as a high school math teacher for a year. While he gave that up, he occasionally substitutes in between traveling with his wife and visiting their three sons and eight grandchildren.
"This is my hobby," Hodge says of poker. "It's been a lot of fun. I made a decision at the end of last year that I was going to play more poker this year. As soon as I started playing more poker the results came. A good start to the season, quiet in the middle, and a nice hit in Meskwaki. It's been a mix of results."
Hodge, who only plays on the MSPT and in local Twin City tournaments, kicked off the season by making the final table at the first-ever MSPT Jacksonville, and from there the results came regularly.
|01/30/2015-02/08/2015||Columbus, Minnesota||Running Aces Card Club||4||$25,539|
|02/14/2015-02/22/2015||Baraboo, Wisconsin||Ho-Chunk Gaming WI Dells||18||$3,541|
|03/05/2015-03/15/2015||Black Hawk, Colorado||Golden Gates Casino||35||$2,182|
|04/04/2015-04/12/2015||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Potawatomi Casino||37||$2,704|
|06/01/2015-06/05/2015||Las Vegas, Nevada||The Venetian||169||$2,512|
|09/11/2015-09/20/2015||Columbus, Minnesota||Running Aces Casino||32||$1,963|
|10/31/2015-11/08/2015||Tama, Iowa||Meskwaki Casino||6||$18,820|
"I think it'd just be fun, it'd be validation," Hodge says about the possibility of winning POY. "I don't think anything else would change. I'm competitive, the money is just a way to keep score. If you put points on something, I'm going to want to have more points than the next guy."
While POY is on his mind, Hodge also spends a lot of time thinking about actually capturing a MSPT title.
"If you ask me at the beginning of next year, my goal would be to win an event," he admits. "I want to win a $1,000+ buy-in event, that's my goal. Player of the Year is nice, something to talk to people about, but if you want to win you play to win."
Aside from that, for him, the MSPT is all about camaraderie.
"I've met a lot of good folks. It's been a lot of fun. The other day I was playing, and right before I busted, a couple guys said the table was a lot of fun. One guy looked at me and said it was because of me. I actually felt like I won. I know it may sound corny."
The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be on hand throughout the MSPT Canterbury Park. Be sure to follow the action in our dedicated live blog to keep tabs on the POY race and to see whether or not Hodge can hold onto his lead.
Here's a look at those who've capture titles in Season 6 thus far:
|Jan. 15-25, 2015||MSPT bestbet Jacksonville||421||Brian Arbaugh||$102,806|
|Jan. 30 – Feb. 8, 2015||MSPT Running Aces||354||Erv Bjerga||$91,941|
|Feb. 14-22, 2015||MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells||463||Ben Wiora||$114,512|
|March 5-15||MSPT Golden Gates||409||Kane Lai||$101,365|
|March 21-29||MSPT Meskwaki||371||Chad Willett||$96,760|
|April 4-12||MSPT Potawatomi||635||Jason Mirza||$147,529|
|April 6-19||MSPT Maryland Live! Casino||270||Greg Himmelbrand||$72,910|
|April 17-26||MSPT Canterbury Park||430||Dan Hendrickson||$106,182|
|May 9-17||MSPT FireKeepers Casino||614||Mark Rubenstein||$142,637|
|June 1-5||MSPT Venetian||1,964||Angelina Rich||$215,815|
|July 24-26||MSPT Meskwaki||410||Blake Bohn||$101,229|
|August 14-16||MSPT Grand Falls||238||Alan Curl||$64,941|
|August 21-23||MSPT Tropicana Evansville||251||Michael O'Neill||$67,746|
|September 4-6||MSPT Potawatomi||462||Dan Goepel||$114,117|
|September 18-20||MSPT Running Aces||328||Peixin Liu||$85,498|
|October 10-18||MSPT FireKeepers Casino||559||Michael Ferraroti||$134,642|
|November 6-8||MSPT Meskwaki||410||Rich Alsup||$101,229|
|November 20-22||MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells||379||John Hayes||$98,907|