The first ever MSPT $350 Regional Event held at Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, Iowa, which is just outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota, drew 426 entries (112 on Day 1A, 128 1B, and 186 1C) over three starting flights. On Sunday, the surviving 71 players returned to play down to a winner, and in the end, it was Travis Gant of Geddes, South Dakota who walked away with a $29,782 first-place prize.
“It feels pretty awesome,” said Gant, a father to a five-year-old daughter. “I came in to today short and had to spin it up right away. I got back in the game, made a few hands, and got to the final table. Hands went my way and here we are. It’s been a long time coming, I’m really happy. I’ve been grinding online before they shut us down. I saw a lot of hands before I got this break.”
The win marked Gant’s first MSPT cash. Prior to the score, he had $18,162 in tournament earnings including $8,700 for finishing fifth in the 2017 South Dakota State Poker Championship in early April.
“The tournament was run fantastic,” said Gant, who helps his family ranch and plays baseball on the side. “From the dealers on down, everybody was on top of everything. It was smooth. As far as Grand Falls goes, it’s a great place to play.”
Gant came back from a 4-1 chip deficit in heads-up play against Jason Bender. In what would be the final hand of the tournament, which took place in Level 32 (80,000/160,000/20,000), Bender got his stack of 3.5 million all in preflop holding the A♥10♥ against the A♣K♥ of Gant, who was sitting with roughly 5 million. The board ran out 2♥5♦8♠3♠6♦ and it was all over.
Bender now has four MSPT Regional cashes, all of which are final tables!
Among the 45 players to cash the event were Minnesota pro Aaron Johnson (41st - $619), 2017 South Dakota State Poker Champion Ryan Skluzak (32nd - $743), four-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner Mark Fink (22nd - $929), start-of-the-day chip leader Brian Wika (19th - $929), and “Wild” Bill Romer (15th - $1,611).
Final Table Results
1 Travis Gant (Geddes, SD) $29,782
2 Jason Bender (Keota, IA) $17,975
3 Darren Eide (Moorehead, MN) $11,741
4 Curtis Vierstraete (Wahpeton, ND) $8,119
5 Ken Pates (Brooklyn Park, MN) $6,198
6 John Cap (Scotland, SD) $4,772
7 Mark Steffen (Hot Springs, SD) $3,966
8 Paul Skjerseth ($3,285) $3,285
9 David Swanholm (Fargo, ND) $2,776
10 Dan Dykhouse (Sioux Falls, SD) $2,107
The MPST will return to Grand Falls Casino August 19-27 for thier annual $1,100 buy-in, $150,000 guaranteed Main Event. As for the next stop, the MSPT heads to FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan for a $300K GTD Main Event May 18-21.