$1,100 Main Event ($150K GTD)



Industry Insiders: Grand Falls Poker Room Manager Renee Thomas

Chad_Holloway • Level 2: 100-200, 200 ante
Renee Thomas Grand Falls
Renee Thomas Grand Falls

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort was granted an operator's license for a casino in May of 2010, which followed the passage of a referendum approving a gaming structure by the citizens of Lyon County, Iowa in September of 2008. Since then, the property has won a number of awards including Midwest Gaming and Destination Magazine 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards for “Best Amenities,” “Best Golf Course,” and “Best Casino Personnel.”

It also ranked as the second-best overall property in Iowa, second-best for amenities in the entire Midwest, and having the best golf course in the entire Midwest! As far as poker at Grand Falls is concerned, Renee Thomas, a mother of three and grandmother of two (not to mention her 3 lbs. Chihuahua that she claims runs the show at her house), is the woman spearheading the team that makes the action happen.

“I’ve been in the casino industry for 26 years in three states,” Thomas tells MSPT Magazine. “I started out dealing
blackjack in South Dakota for a year before transferring to poker as a dealer. I became a supervisor there and then managed the room for three and a half years. After 10 years, I moved to Colorado and followed the same path of dealing, supervising and then managing the Lady Luck poker room for six years.”

After Lady Luck, a sister property to Golden Gates Poker Renee Thomas Parlour (another MSPT stop) just down the street, Thomas set her sights on returning to the Midwest.

“As much as I loved Colorado, I knew that I would eventually want to move back closer to my family,” Thomas explains. “A friend had told me about a casino possibly being built in Larchwood, Iowa so I started paying attention when the state was doing impact studies. When Grand Falls was hiring I came on board before the casino opened as a supervisor and assisted the poker manager in training poker dealers. I was promoted to poker room manager three and a half years ago.”

Once in the driver’s seat, Thomas helped bring one of the country’s premier poker tours to the property.

“Our players look forward to the $1,100 MSPT every year,” she says excitedly. “It’s a great way for our local players to have the opportunity to satellite into a large tournament without having to travel. Because of our location we bring in players from multiple states and because of our amenities, many of them treat it like a mini vacation with their spouse.”

Of course there’s a lot of poker action to be had even when the MSPT isn’t in town.

“Along with running the MSPT every August, our poker room runs three different tournament events each year as
well as low limit weekly tournaments,” says Thomas. “We have the Fall Poker Series in November, our Poker Championship in March and our Summer Poker Challenge in June. I know every manager says that their poker room is friendly but ours truly is! We have such a great staff of supervisors, duals and dealers here at Grand Falls and we do our very best to take care of our player’s needs from getting you a Resort Club card to calling the Big Drop to order your dinner.”

While a strong player base from nearby Sioux Falls and experienced staff help make poker at Grand Falls a success, Thomas is also quick to credit the resort itself.

“Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort has so much to offer our guests and it’s a great destination for a mini vacation,” she says. “You can relax at the spa or pool, play golf, shop in our boutique and then have dinner at Ruthie’s, Robert’s Buffet or the Big Drop.”

*This post originally appeared in MSPT Magazine and is republished here with permission from the MSPT.

Tags: Renee Thomas

Most MSPT Main Event Cashes in History

Chad_Holloway • Level 2: 100-200, 200 ante

Since its inception in 2009, the MSPT has done a great job keeping track of player stats. As a result, 11 years on they have one of the best player databases in the industry.

On their "Leaderboards" page, the MSPT tracks such things as Career Earnings, Main Event Cashes, Main Event Final Tables, Main Event Titles, Total Cashes, Most Cashes/Final Tables in a Season, Most Final Tables All-Time, and much more. Click here for a look at all the leaderboards.Click here for a look at all the leaderboards.

Here's a look at the top ten MSPT Main Event cashers:

PlacePlayerHometownMain Event Cashes
1Aaron JohnsonRed Wing, Minnesota39
2Kou VangMaplewood, Minnesota32
3Richard AlsupNew Hope, Minnesota30
4DJ BuckleyEden Prairie, Minnesota27
5Pat SteeleChelsea, Michigan26
6Mark HodgeFernandina Beach, Florida25
7Blake BohnEden Prairie, Minnesota25
8Jason SeitzShakopee, Minnesota24
9Rob WazWazMinneapolis, Minnesota22
10Matt KirbyBemidji, Minnesota22

Listen to the MSPT Grand Falls Preview on the Latest Episode of the PN Podcast; Guest Alyssa MacDonald

Chad_Holloway • Level 2: 100-200, 200 ante

In the latest edition of the PokerNews Podcast, Sarah Herring, Chad Holloway and Jeff Platt recap the latest 2020 World Series of Poker online bracelet event series from GGPoker.

They then welcome guest Alyssa MacDonald, who talks about her deep run in the $10K Heads-Up Championship.

They also discuss Patrick Leonard's idea of doing away with nine-handed poker, break down the World Poker Tour WOC Mix-Max Championship, examine the new high-stakes scene (which includes new record-breaking NLH hands) and the MSPT Grand Falls, which is the first mid-major live poker tournament in the USA in nearly six months.


A Couple of Day 1b Tweets

Chad_Holloway • Level 1: 100-100, 100 ante

Download the PokerNews MyStack App and Update Your Chip Count

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PokerNews has activated the My Stack App for this event, allowing you to directly adjust your chip counts in our live reporting blog using your iPhone or Android phone.

You can download the app for iPhone or Android now to get started. Then, create a new PokerNews account or update your current one to start updating your status immediately. Your followers can see all the live-action that you're involved in.

Click here to download the My Stack app for iPhone, or click here to download the My Stack app for Android.


Welcome to Day 1b of the MSPT Grand Falls Main Event!

MSPT Grand Falls
MSPT Grand Falls

At the beginning of the year, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) was primed for Season 11 and even hosted three stops before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted things, just like it did for so many other tours and venues.

This weekend, the MSPT Season 11 continues, at least for one stop, with the $1,100 buy-in, $150,000 GTD Main Event at Grand Falls Casino, just outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The event, which requires players to be 21+ and will be live reported by PokerNews, marks the first mid-major tournament in the United States in nearly six months.

The $1,100 Main Event, which will require players to wear masks, features two starting flights and Friday's Day 1a drew 226 entries. After a hard stop 10 minutes into Level 15, just 27 players bagged and tagged with Kevin Berthelsen and his stack of 541,000 leading the way. Rounding out the top five big stacks were William Chao (427,000), Stephen Cleghorn (357,000), Tim Garles (310,000), and Curtis Vierstraete (296,000).

Others to punch their tickets to Day 2 were Donnie Phan (248,000), Steve Federspiel (227,000), Kyna England (207,000), Jason Seitz (191,000), Tyler Kolness (141,000), and Ryan Phan (95,000).

Of course, not everyone was fortunate enough to make it through the night. Among those to fire and fall in Friday’s flight were two-time South Dakota State Poker Championship winner Ryan Skluzak, WSOP Circuit studs Blake Whittington and Nick Pupillo, Howard Hankin’s BFF Cody Brinn, “Bemidji” Eric Anderson, and MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Alsup. There's a good chance we see most of them give it another go today in the second flight.

Day 1B will get underway shortly. The surviving players from both flights will then return at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 30 to play down to a winner.

The MSPT last visited Grand Falls Casino for a Main Event back in September when Jesse Rockowitz topped a 175-entry field to win the tournament for $45,425. The time before that, Ryan Skluzak bested a 226-entry field to win it for $54,427.

The last MSPT stop in general, which took place March 4-8, was actually at Grand Falls Casino, though it was a $350 buy-in Regional Event. Swadeep Mishra took down that tournament for $23,467