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Introducing The Toughest Poker Home Game in the Midwest

James Mackey, Grant Hinkle, Blair Hinkle and Jeff Tebben are part of the toughest home game around.

Home games are a common way for friends to cut their teeth in poker in a fun, laid-back environment. For WSOP bracelet winners Jeff Tebben, Grant Hinkle, Blair Hinkle, and James Mackey, a fun little home game in their native Kansas City area has turned into “the toughest home game in the midwest.”

Monday Night Poker ("MNP") is a $40 tournament that was born in 2003 following the booming Moneymaker effect. What was once a group of friends that wanted to watch Monday Night Football rapidly turned into some of the most decorated poker players in the greater Kansas City area taking seats at the felt together.

"People constantly assume that MNP is some sort of high-roller league, but it couldn’t be further."

Tebben (lead image - right) was part of this original gathering and recalls the early days. “We really had no idea what we were doing. The structure was terrible, the payouts were ridiculous, and it was pretty much just an excuse to hang out together, watch football, and maybe get lucky and win a few bucks.”

Bracelet Collection Begins

Eventually the group saw the addition of Grant Hinkle (lead image - center, left), a quiet leader who, at the time, had a little bit of online success. That success soon turned into WSOP history-making. Hinkle went to Las Vegas for the 2008 WSOP and ended up winning an event later broadcast on ESPN that was one of the largest poker fields ever, a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em Event, for which he took home $831,462.

Blair Hinkle, 2008 WSOP $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Champion
Blair Hinkle

Just 11 days later, Hinkle's brother, Blair (lead image - right), won his first gold bracelet in the WSOP $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for $507,613, making the Hinkle brothers the first siblings in the history of the WSOP to win gold bracelets within a single year.

Two years later, Tebben also ended up with a WSOP bracelet of his own for taking down a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for $503,389. Soon, James “Corwin” Mackey (lead image - left), Blair Hinkle’s former roommate at the University of Missouri before they both dropped out of college to chase their poker dreams, joined the Monday Night Poker group.

Known as "migcom" in the online poker world, Mackey had won a bracelet at the age of 21 the year prior to the Hinkle brothers' bracelet wins, after he scored $730,740 in a $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. He has also gotten painfully close to a second bracelet with a second-place finish in 2008, a third-place finish in 2012 and another runner-up in 2018.

James Mackey
James Mackey

Over time the MNP league saw their circle grow to membership of around 25. What also continued to grow was their winnings away from the league. The Hinkle brothers, Tebben and Mackey plus two other league members Nick Burris and Matt Donaldson gradually amassed over $11.5 million in combined earnings.

In addition to the four already mentioned WSOP bracelets, their accolades also include four Heartland Poker Tour titles, three Rungood Poker Series titles, eight WSOP Circuit rings — five being from Main Events — a Five Diamond title, a Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open title, and a WPT title.

Same $40 Buy-in

Still, the group has stayed true to their humble beginnings.

Grant Hinkle
Grant Hinkle

"People constantly assume that MNP is some sort of high-roller league, but it couldn’t be further," Jeff Tebben told PokerNews as he battled in the 50th annual WSOP $1,500 Bracelet Winners Only No-Limit Hold’em Event in Las Vegas in July along with the Hinkles and Mackey. "It has remained at the original $40 buy-in since it’s inception."

In that event, the Hinkle brothers could be seen seated at the same table, eleven years after winning their bracelets, fighting for another chance at one of poker's most prestigious trophies.

When asked about playing at the same table as his brother, Grant Hinkle says, "I enjoy playing poker at the same table as Blair at MNP. He is historically one of the worst in our fun turbo home game. I hate playing at the same table in real events. It has happened probably six or seven times and is always awkward and particularly painful for me, as he constantly puts me in tough spots."

Grant Hinkle: "Blair is historically one of the worst in our fun turbo home game."

While Mackey was the only of the four to cash the Bracelet Winners Only event — finishing 12th for $4,402 — the crew had a nice showing over the summer.

Mackey booked five WSOP cashes for $73,290 which included a tenth-place finish in Event #9: $600 No-Limit Hold'em Deepstack. Blair Hinkle racked up eight cashes, good for $38,448 while Grant Hinkle cashed in the BIG 50.

MNP Poker Accolades

Even more impressive than their summer results are the earnings and poker accomplishments of six MNP members over the last decade-plus, combining for over $11.5 million in earnings and racking up a host of poker titles.

[I]MNP Players' Poker Results[/I]

PlayerLifetime EarningsWSOP braceletsCircuit ringsOther titles
Blair Hinkle$4,514,9571 (2008)53
James Mackey$4,205,8631 (2007)-2
Grant Hinkle$1,663,7371 (2008)11
Jeff Tebben$605,0511 (2010)--
Nick Burris$294,693-23
Matt Donaldson$244,605--2

Blair Hinkle sits first on Missouri's all-time money list. Three of his Circuit wins came in Main Events, while his other three titles include a Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open championship event win from 2013, an HPT win from 2016 and a RunGood Poker Series Main Event title from 2019.

Mackey's three titles came in the form of a WSOP bracelet in 2007, a win in a $3K Five Diamond event in 2008, and he carries the lone WPT title of the group from his WPT Choctaw victory in 2016.

Grant Hinkle also won a Circuit Main Event in 2017 and has a 2018 RunGood Poker Series Main Event title to go along with his 2008 bracelet win. He sits fifth on the Kansas all-time money list with his hometown listed as Overland Park on Hendon Mob.

“We really had no idea what we were doing. The structure was terrible, the payouts were ridiculous."

The majority of Tebben's live earnings came from his 2010 WSOP bracelet win in a $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for a score of $503,389. He also finished runner-up in a WSOP Circuit Main Event in 2018.

Burris has two Circuit wins to his credit, including a Main Event win earlier this year where he denied Blair Hinkle a fourth title at Horseshoe Council Bluffs. He also has two HPT side event victories and won a RunGood Poker Series Main Event title in 2019. Donaldson adds another HPT Main Event title to the group from a 2016 victory, and also won an HPT side event.

While this illustrious group of players may be battling mostly for bragging rights in “the toughest home game in the midwest” as a new MNP season is quickly approaching, don't be surprised to see them going for blood out there in the real poker world as they continue to add to the group's remarkable list of poker accolades.

Sharelines
  • These poker crushers still maintain the $40 buy-in that the inaugural home game began with.

  • Six members of this Kansas City poker home game combine for more than $11.5 million in tournament earnings.

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