Ken Pates defeated a field of 338 players to claim an $87,698 first-place prize at the Mid-States Poker Tour's second visit to Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus, Minn. It was Pates' second visit to an MSPT final table this year after the Minnesotan took fifth at Canterbury Park in April.
Day 2 of the tournament began at 10:30 a.m., and notables Matt Kirby, Jonathan Olson, Minnesota business magnate and high roller John Morgan, Marc "Poker Joker" Powers, Jeff Bryan, and Larry Ormson fell before the money.
The early levels also saw eventual heads-up combatants Pates and Dennis Stevermer chip up considerably and take the top two spots in the counts. Pates had already built a top-five stack when Pates and Josh Dahlstrom got it all in on a flop of , with Pates at risk for more than 200,000 in a monster pot. Pates had flopped a set with , while Dahlstrom had elected to roll with his . No help came on the last two streets for Dahlstrom, and Pates took the chip lead.
After the elimination of John Wilhelmy on the bubble, Tony Hartmann, MSPT Canterbury champion Mike Wilmes, start of Day 2 leader Andrew Null, John "JohnnyGstaks" Hayes, and Mark Sandness, who won this tournament in February, collected payouts before heading out the doors. The end came in brutal fashion for Sandness when he jammed all in with on a board and was called by Steve Vang's . Vang binked the on the river for two pair.
After the elimination of Blake Warner in 11th, the final table was set.
Former MSPT champions Jason Seitz, Jeremy Dresch, and Ben Marsh headlined the final 10, but Seitz and Dresch were dispatched in eighth and ninth, respectively, following the elimination of Bill Perpich in 10th. William Vincent went out in seventh, and 90 minutes of six-handed play led to Marsh exiting after a failed limp-shove with in a blind battle against the unimproved of Ervin Bjerga.
Dan Shogren followed in fifth when his was outdrawn all in preflop by the of Stevermer, who hit trips. Next out the door was short stack Steve Vang in fourth after Bjerga called his shove with and hit a pair of jacks on a board to beat . Bjerga's willingness to gamble preflop finally caught up to him though, when he lost nearly all of his stack calling the 40-big blind shove of Pates, whose queens held against pocket sevens. A crippled Bjerga busted shortly after in third.
Pates and Stevermer played a short and very aggressive heads-up match that ended when the board read and Stevermer bet 200,000. Pates raised to 600,000, and Stevermer pushed all in. Pates made the call.
"I'm on a draw," Stevermer announced as he got out of his seat, throwing down for a gutshot and a flush draw. "Good call."
Pates flipped for top pair. The two awaited the river card, and the dealer placed the on the felt, pairing the board and keeping Pates' kings best. The tournament director counted down stacks, and Pates had his opponent covered by about 100,000. He embraced the small crowd that had gathered on the rail for him before shaking Stevermer's hand and accepting his congratulations.