Season 7 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) kicked off its first $1,100 Main Event at the second annual Wisconsin State Poker Championship. Andy Rubinberg emerged as champion from 489 entrants, capturing a $120,808 prize by beating Kou Vang, a Minnesota poker legend, in heads-up play.
Prior to this score, Rubinberg had $220,585 in earnings, but had yet to win a title in his ten-year career. His best previous finish was second at the MSPT Main Event last year. It looked like that infamous streak would continue. He busted early and almost didn’t buy back in.
“I bought in once and just ran terribly, busted out at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night,” Rubinberg told PokerStars. “I was ready to leave. I walked over to my buddy … and said I was driving home. I was pissed off, I ran terrible, I was done. He said he had $1,100, why don’t you buy in? I didn’t want to buy any money, so he said he’d take 20% so it’d only be $880, and here we are.”
The top 45 finishers divied up the $489,000 prize pool; familiar names like MSPT Pro Matt Alexander and World Series of Poker bracelet winner Nick Jivkov made it to the money but not the final table of nine.
Once the final table was set, ten rapidly became seven.
Jason Peno from Madison was the first to go at the hands of Byron Ziebell. Next, Anthony Knepper went home in ninth for $9,457. Then Scott Johnson hit the rail, ousted by the eventual champ; Johnson went all-in with K♤, 9♧ on a 7♢, 8♤, 5♧ flop and Rubinberg called with 7♤, 4♤. It proved to be a good call; a 10♡ on the turn and A♢ on the river sent Johnson home in $13,172.
Next to go were Jason Ramos (seventh) and Josh Reichard (sixth). Reichard busted when his A♤, 7♧ didn’t measure up to Vang’s K♢, 6♢ on a 3♡, Q♤, 6♤, 4♢, J♢ board.
After that, Bruce Swart went home in fifth, leaving MSPT Meskwaki Champ Rich Alsup in the short stack. Alsup was next to go, and then Ziebell’s luck ran out, leaving just Rubinberg and Vang.
Vang began heads-up play with a two-to-one chip lead but couldn’t maintain it. The back-and-forth battle lasted more than four hours. When the blinds got big enough to force action, Rubinberg flopped a pair and Vang shoved on a heart flush draw. The top pair held, making Rubinberg the champion.
“This is my first major tournament win,” said Rubinberg. “It’s redemption, a relief. I’ve been playing for so long I just wanted a win, I needed it.”
The MSPT will be in Jacksonville from February 25 to 28.
Final table results:
(Photo credit: MSPT, Creative Commons).
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