On Sunday night, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) $350 Regional Event at Potawatomi Casino saw 47-year-old local attorney and recreational poker player Matthew Vignali became the winner of Wisconsin’s largest-field poker tournament.
It was the first five-figure win for the lawyer, who practices primarily civil and commercial litigation, as well as construction and contract law, and was good for $70,240 after striking a deal with runner-up Alexander Hill.
The event, which took place in downtown Milwaukee, drew 1,658 entrants over three starting flights.
It marked the second time this year that the MSPT set a state record in Wisconsin. Back in January, the MSPT Regional Event drew 1,228 entries, which at the time set a new bar. That tournament was won by Craig Trost for $63,252.
But only one month later, the World Series of Poker Circuit Potawatomi Casino Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry beat that with 1,272 entries over four flights.
Dead in the Water
When heads-up play began, Vignali, who had fired two bullets into the tournament, held 27 million to Hill’s 6 million. Hill managed to close the gap and pull close to even, at which point the opponents opted to secure $60,000 each and leave the trophy and $10,240 in prize money on the table.
In the first hand after the deal was struck, Vignali jammed the button holding the A♦9♥ and Hill ended up calling off with the inferior K♦9♦. The board ran out 10♣A♠8♣8♠J♣, which left Hill drawing dead after the turn.
“I’m pretty exhausted but very excited,” said Vignali, whose prior best cash was just $1,299. “ … I don’t travel the circuit or anything … [but] I always play in the MSPT and WSOP Circuit when they come to Milwaukee. ”
Cashing at Potawatomi
On Day 2, 294 players returned to action, and of those, 171 got paid. Among those to cash were former MSPT champ Ken Pates (164th for $626), Day 1C chip leader Michael Castro (40th for $1,493), 2016 Minnesota Poker Player of the Year Saad Ghanem (37th for $1,493), and final table bubble boy Bob Van Syckle (11th for $6,259).
The final table began with Michael Berry holding an eight-figure stack of 10.5 million, while his next closest competitor in Vignali had less than half that.
“When I got to the final table I felt pretty relaxed and pretty good,” said Vignali. “Things had been swinging my way and I felt like I’d been playing real good all tournament, not making many mistakes. I felt pretty confident actually.”
The fan favorite at the final table seemed to be Joan Sandoval, the last woman standing in the tournament. She was hoping to become the first woman to capture a MSPT Regional Event title, but she came up short, finishing in sixth place.
In her final hand, Sandoval got her stack of 3.4 million all in on a 4♦K♣6♠ flop holding the K♥J♠. But Hill held the A♥A♦ and neither the 8♥ turn nor Q♠ river helped her. Sandoval earned $16,370 for her first-ever MSPT cash.
The Mid-States Poker Tour will return to Potawatomi Casino from November 11-19 for the 2017 MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship, an $1,100 buy-in Main Event featuring a $200,000 guaranteed prize pool.
Final Table Results
1 Matthew Vignali (Kenosha, WI) $70,240*
2 Alexander Hill (Madison, WI) $60,000*
3 Michael Filippo (Itasca, IL) $37,555
4 Michael Berry (Waterloo, WI) $28,407
5 Alex Crawford (New Lenox, IL) $21,667
6 Joan Sandoval (Green Bay, WI) $16,370
7 Miroslav Semanisin (Baraboo, WI) $13,000
8 Ken Garbowicz (Green Bay, WI) $10,108
9 Jeff Olson (Sussex, WI) $8,185
10 David Papais (Darien, IL) $6,259
*Denotes heads-up deal
Editor’s Note: CardsChat and MSPT share a cross-promotional alliance. Chad Holloway is Media Director for MSPT.