Paul Cross Puts Finance Manager Skills to Work, Wins Largest Entry Field Event in Minnesota Poker History

In the past month, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) has set new records in several states. Most recently, last weekend’s MSPT $350 Regional Event at Canterbury Park became the biggest tournament in Minnesota poker history.

Local Paul Cross went from recreational player to MSPT champ over the weekend, which entailed winning the largest tournament in Minnesota history. (Image: MSPT)

Shattering Records Across Midwest

The first-ever MSPT $350 Regional Event held at Canterbury Park attracted 1,169 entrants over four starting flights. That bested the previous state record of 1,114 entries in Canterbury’s 2015 $115 buy-in Ultimate $100K, which was set in eight flights.

It comes on the heels of July’s 2017 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship, which drew 496 entrants, a state record for tournaments featuring a $1,000 buy-in or more. Carter Myers won that event for $115,109.

The week before that, the $350 buy-in MSPT Regional Event in Milwaukee’s Potawatomi Casino attracted 1,658 runners in three flights, which made it the largest poker tournament ever held in Wisconsin. The previous record was 1,272 entries set by the World Series of Poker Circuit in four flights back in February. Local attorney Matthew Vignali took home $70,240 for winning that event.

Another record set this year by the MSPT was for largest poker tournament by attendance in Colorado history. March’s $350 Regional Event at Golden Gates Casino saw 893 entrants take to the felt. Likewise, May’s 1,066 entries in the MSPT FireKeepers became the largest poker tournament in Michigan history.

Topping it all off, the summer’s MSPT Venetian, which catered to 3,273 entries, became the largest poker tournament in both MSPT and Venetian history.

The latest record-breaking event came less than four months after the MSPT set the record for largest-ever major tournament in Minnesota poker history. The 13th MSPT Main Event ever held at Canterbury Park attracted 475 entrants and was won by 56-year-old business development manager Mark Wadekamper.

Among those to cash Minnesota poker’s largest tournament were MSPT Season 5 champ Ken Pates (28th for $1,458), Todd Melander (48th for $1,108), MSPT Season 7 Running Aces champ Luke Arora (73rd for $848), Aaron Johnson (87th for $814), and Jon Kulkay (108th for $678).

New Minnesota Poker Champ

Fittingly, Paul Cross, a 32-year-old finance manager at Thomas Reuters, took down the title for $61,911. Cross is a well-known recreational player in the Minnesota poker scene, so winning such a prestigious event meant a lot.

“It’s humbling and overwhelming,” Cross told MSPT officials after the win. “I actually got pretty emotional. I have been grinding these tournaments for a long time and have made a few final tables, but a MSPT final table was a big goal for me. It is the most prestigious tour that comes through Minnesota. So, to make my first and go on the heater of a lifetime was unbelievable.”

In the final hand of the tournament, MSPT Season 7 Meskwaki champ Heine got his short stack all in preflop holding the K♣4♣ against the 10♣10♠ of Cross. The 10♥9♥7♣ gave Cross top set, and Heine was drawing dead after the 4♠ appeared on the turn.

The silver lining for Heine, who earned $37,988 for his runner-up finish, was that he received 567 points toward the Kimo Sabe Mezcal MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Leaderboard. Thanks to two other final table finishes earlier in the year, he now sits in first place with 2,767 points with his next closest competitor being Keith Block with 2,500 points.

“Keith just gets it,” Cross said of his heads-up opponent. “He is an inventive poker player that likes to talk and I love that. I had never played him with him before and I was really impressed. It was a great match which is something you don’t get to do often.”

Season 8 of the MSPT continues next weekend with the 2017 Indiana State Poker Championship at Tropicana Evansville.

Final Tables Results

1 Paul Cross (Minneapolis, MN) $61,911
2 Keith Heine (Hillsboro, MS) $37,988
3 Loki Abboud (Mendota Heights, MN) $28,186
4 Mark Bloomberg (Mound, MN) $21,402
5 Riley Stahley (Las Vegas, NV) $15,941
6 Nate Fair (Brooklyn Park, MN) $12,210
7 Tyler Brackey (Fairmont, MN) $9,497
8 Mark Anderson (Robinsdale, MN) $7,462
9 John Alexander (Minneapolis, MN) $6,105
10 Jarrod Blackwell (Milaca, MN) $4,749

Editor’s Note: CardsChat and MSPT share a cross-promotional alliance. Chad Holloway is Media Director for MSPT.

Related PostsWSOP Circuit Event Moving to Lake Lugano in ItalyWSOP Circuit Event Moving to Lake Lugano in ItalyJon Kim Wins Second-Largest Poker Tournament in Minnesota HistoryJon Kim Wins Second-Largest Poker Tournament in Minnesota HistoryEPT Deauville Ladies Event Crashed by 22 MenEPT Deauville Ladies Event Crashed by 22 MenJon Hanner Wins First Mid-Major By Taking Down 10th Anniversary Minnesota State Poker ChampionshipJon Hanner Wins First Mid-Major By Taking Down 10th Anniversary Minnesota State Poker Championship

Sb