World Series of Poker Europe

Aaron Massey Wins Biggest MSPT Outside of Vegas for $174,658

Aaron Massey
  • MSPT FireKeepers in Michigan drew 820 runners, and Aaron Massey claimed the title and $174,658.

The Mid-States Poker Tour nearly tripled its $300,000 guarantee by drawing 820 players — and an $820,000 prize pool — for its stop at FireKeepers in Battle Creek, Mich. That made it the largest stop to date outside of Las Vegas, and it was well-known pro Aaron Massey outlasting the mammoth field for a $174,658 payday.

"Perfect timing right before the summer, great for my morale," said Massey, who may be pulling himself out of a slump after a 2015 that saw him cash for $229,280, the least he's won by far since a breakout 2012 where he won over $800,000. "I thrive in these big fields over my career. I do really well in the mid-majors."

Final Table Results

1Aaron MasseyElmwood Park, IL$174,658
2Ron KrukOsceola, IN$106,383
3Jason SmithFerndale, MI$69,228
4Rodger JohnsonGrand Forks, ND$47,952
5Chris BlikGrandville, MI$34,932
6Richard BaiSchaumberg, IL$26,834
7Al SingletaryOkemos, MI$22,150
8David BermanSolon, OH$18,498
9Brian BrennekeFort Wayne, IN$14,847
10Ryan LallyRockford, MI$11,354

The tournament paid out to 81st place, and Kou Vang (81st), Dan Heimiller (67th), Tom Midena (59th), Matt Kirby (57th), Nick Pupillo (54th), Mark Johnson Jr. (43rd), and Adam Lamphere (19th) were some of those making the money.

According to event updates, Massey grabbed the chip lead by making quad kings all in preflop with the {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds} against an opponent who held fives when it was down to two tables. However, by the time the final table was reached, it was Michigan's own Jason Smith, another pro who has amassed more than $2.2 million in online cashes, who held a strong lead with over 4 million and blinds at 25,000/50,000/5,000.

Smith found some early good fortune after the first elimination at the final table, flatting a raise with the {3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds} and flopping a set against Brian Brenneke's {10-Spades}{10-Diamonds} to bust him in ninth. He then called the eight-big blind shove of David Berman with the {a-Spades}{3-Diamonds} and flopped two pair against the {a-Hearts}{j-Spades}. Smith's hot run continued when his {a-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds} made a flush to bust Al Singletary, who had gotten it in with the {a-Clubs}{k-Spades}.

Smith held more than half of the chips in play six-handed at that point, but he dropped a key pot when five players remained. He had the {5-Spades}{5-Diamonds} and reshoved in the small blind over a shove from Chris Blik on the button, but Ron Kruk woke up with jacks in the big blind and doubled through Smith while busting Blik, who had the {10-Spades}{9-Clubs}.

Massey then caught a break when he and Smith got in a raising war that ended with Massey shoving 2.79 million at 50,000/100,000/10,000. Smith decided to call with the {a-Hearts}{10-Spades} and was leading against Massey's {k-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}, but the latter found a winning two pair on the {10-Diamonds}{k-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{j-Spades} board.

Smith was able to work his way back to the lead but again sent that lead to Massey, this time courtesy of a {k-Hearts}{k-Spades}-versus-{q-Clubs}{q-Hearts} cooler that went in Massey's favor after he flopped a set of kings. Smith was able to outlast Rodger Johnson and ladder up to third, but it was Massey and Kruk who battled heads up.

Massey started with the lead and did not relinquish it, ending things in a preflop all-in clash with the {a-Spades}{k-Hearts} when Kruk had the {a-Clubs}{q-Spades} and did not find enough improvement on the {j-Spades}{7-Spades}{a-Diamonds}{8-Clubs}{k-Spades} board.

The win marked Massey's fifth-largest live tournament score to date.

*Photo courtesy of the MSPT.

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