The record-breaking Mid-States Poker Tour event at FireKeepers Casino drew 820 entries to the Battle Creek property as popular Aaron Massey earned his first MSPT title and $174,658.
“I’m feeling really good,” Massey said. “Perfect timing right before the summer, great for my morale. … I thrive in these big fields over my career. I do really well in the mid-majors. That’s my bread and butter. I’m just really happy to close it out in such a big field.”
Massey, with nearly $2.9 million in lifetime earnings, broke through in 2012 when he topped a field of 1,394 to capture WinStar’s River event for $651,559. Since then, he’s continued to dominate by finishing third in a 2014 WSOP event for $255,209, runner-up in a World Poker Tour Borgata Open event for $219K and a 2014 win at the Heartland Poker Tour’s East Chicago stop for $177K.
Among those to cash at FireKeepers wereDan Heimiller (67th, $2,223), Tom Midena (59th, $2,540) and Nick Pupillo (54th, $2,937).
“The fact that it was such a big field, it does make me feel good,” Massey said. “It feels more prestigious to me.”
AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: The Heartland Poker Tour’s stop here has grown significantly. The recent $300 Monster Stack was the largest tournament in HPT history with 1,247 entries and combined prize pools surpassed $1M.
The televised main event drew 541 entries, an increase of 175 over last year, creating Chicagoland’s second largest prize pool in HPT history with $779K.
“HPT always gets a great turnout in Chicagoland,” HPT marketing coordinator Korey Stewart said. “Ameristar is a beautiful property. The staff is incredibly accommodating and the players love it. It’s only a matter of time before we hit the million-dollar mark in the main event.”
Casey Carroll took top honors, winning $174K in the main event. Chicagoland’s top players showed up with Craig Casino, Aaron Massey and Mike Puccio finishing in the money.
Carroll, who finished 10th in a main event here in September, topped 478 entries to win the $300 HPT event at Soaring Eagle in Michigan in November.
James Casement Jr. won the record-breaking Monster Stack for $44K. He was the main-event runner-up here in January.
The 76-year-old Pete Falco won the $150 buy-in seniors event, also cashing in the $200 seniors event that Tim McCarthy won.
The HPT returns to East Chicago on Aug. 25-Sept. 5 and is shaping up to be another record-breaking event.
HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: The Denny Crum Poker Open will run July 21-31. Opener will be a $240 buy-in Monster Stack event with three Day 1. The $675 main event starts July 30 at noon. This is Indiana’s oldest independent tournament series starting in 2007.
HOLLYWOOD AURORA: Mike Greenan won the HPO event for $27K and advanced to the HPO Championship at the M Resort in Las Vegas.
In other Aurora news, the bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was more than $171K at press time.
HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Andrew Rubinberg won the WSOP Warm-Up main event, earning $53K and a WSOP main-event seat. In February, the Skokie native won the MSPT’s main event at Baraboo, Wis.
Erick Wright of Shoreview, Minn., took home $42,448, his second largest career cash, after winning the Mayhem in May Main Event at Running Aces Harness Park in Minnesota, in association with the iNinja Poker Tour.
Wright entered Day 2 with 224K chips, the ninth biggest stack of the 98 players starting the day. At the final table, his 700K chips put him eighth with about 6 percent of the chips in play. After losing three players, Bruce Wolfe and Vladyslav Tkachuk had more than half of the chips. At that point, Wright went on a tear until he gained the chip lead while play was four-handed. He knocked out the next two players to find himself heads-up against Tkachuk with a 10-to-1 lead. It took only a few hands to win the remaining chips and secure the victory, which puts him close to $500K in career earnings.
The event had a $280 buy-in and drew an impressive 840 entrants across six Day 1s which resulted in a $170K prize pool.
HORSESHOE CASINO: Chris Wicks captured the $655 main event at the RunGood Series in Council Bluffs on May 14, earning $31,433. Wicks had to outlast 208 entrants to claim his piece of the $141,075 prize pool. Winners of other events included John Vechnak, who captured the $135 bounty tournament ($4,428), James Devaney ($180 deepstack, $9,086) and Michael Albert, who claimed the $100 turbo ($2,138).
The iNinja Poker Tour visits July 30-31 with a $100K guarantee for the main event with a $280 entry fee. There are six starting flights and players can enter more than one. If they survive more than one, only the larger stack continues but they will receive $1K for the smaller stacks that are removed from play.
MESKWAKI CASINO: The Mid-States Poker Tour returns to Tama this month for the $1,100 Iowa State Poker Championship, which will have a $300K guarantee. There will be satellites running all week as cheap as $65. The main event runs July 22-24.
DIAMOND JO CASINO: The Worth property will run a special $250 Independence Day tournament on July 2 at noon.
RIVERSIDE CASINO: On July 3, look for a $200 event at 11 a.m.
POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: From July 9-17, the Mid-States Poker Tour returns to the Milwaukee property for the second $350 buy-in, $100K guarantee regional event of Season 7. The stop, which requires players be at least 21 years old, will host more than a dozen $50 and $90 satellites for the main, which will have three starting flights.
The last time the MSPT was here was in January when 904 entries, a record for regional events, competed for a $58,964 top prize. Oscar Arndt walked away with the title.
HOLLYWOOD TOLEDO: At press time, the bad-beat jackpot was a whopping $275K. The qualifier is quad eights.
RIVERS CASINO: The Pittsburgh property’s $550 deepstack on July 30 at 12:15 p.m. Players get 25K chips and 40-minute blinds. There is a $60 satellite to this event at 9 a.m. Also, it’s bad-beat jackpot was at $190K at press time.
Meet Timothy Chizmar
Tim Chizmar has been working in the poker industry for the past eight years, after starting as a dealer in theMountaineer poker room in 2007. He still gets out once in a while to play no-limit hold’em, which he picked up in 2003, but most of his time is spent enjoying his time with his wife and three young boys.
He initially was just looking for a part-time job, as he was working a full-time job, going to school and attending the new dealer class. Once he started and realized how much he enjoyed the atmosphere and the people, he knew working in a poker room was something he really enjoyed and wanted to do.
He moved from a dealer to a dual-rate supervisor to a full-time supervisor in a short time, largely because of his work ethic and friendly personality. In 2010 he joined the Rivers Casino poker room as a full-time supervisor and quickly moved to assistant shift manager.
What do you like most about working in poker? By far, working with people, guests, employees and co-workers. It makes coming to work easy knowing I get to spend time helping guests and getting to know people from all walks of life.
— Anthony Furnier