Evanston, Illinois’ Kyna England has made poker history by becoming the first female Player of the Year on the mid-major Mid-States Poker Tour. England sealed the MSPT’s top player honor after taking down the main event in the MSPT’s next-to-last 2021 stop, in Shakopee, Minnesota.
England’s victory over a 1,042-entry field in that Twin Cities event was worth $186,709, and it also pushed her to the top of the MSPT’s year-long POY race. England’s win at Shakopee came after a third-place finish in a MSPT main event in Iowa in March, making her just one of eight players to make the final 10 players in two separate 2021 MSPT main events.
Overall, England topped the MSPT’s Season 12 POY race with 4,750 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Taylor Howard (4,048 points) and third-place Cy Church (3,925). England also tied with Church and Terence Reid for the most MSPT main event cashes during 2021, with seven. Howard came up just short in a final-week push to overtake England for the POY title:
Howard’s last-ditch effort took place in Las Vegas at the Venetian, in the latest iteration of the casino’s DeepStack Extravaganza series. An MSPT main event has been run within the Venetian’s long-running DSE throughout its last several iterations.
England earned a hefty $281,882 during 2021 at various MSPT tour stops, though that ranked only fifth in that regard. The MSPT’s top earner for 2021 was Chance Kornuth, who collected $412,068 on the season. England’s big MSPT season also did not include her largest cash of the year. In July, she finished third in the $3M DeepStack Poker Championship at the Venetian, earning a career best $448,755.
England takes over as the MSPT’s current Player of the Year from another Illinois player, Mike Shin. Shin was the MSPT’s 2019 honoree; like many other poker-based awards, the MSPT did not name a 2020 POY.
The MSPT honored England’s win on social media:
While England’s win was historic for the MSPT and important for women in poker in general, she’s not the first female player to win a mid-major poker tour’s Player of the Year title. That honor is believed to be held by another Illinois player, Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman. Belcore-Zogman claimed the 2008 Player of the Year honor title on the now-defunct Heartland Poker Tour (HPT). The HPT ceased live operations in early 2020 after the pandemic forced the closure of many rooms, and despite rumors of its resurgence, that tour remains mothballed.
Featured image source: Twitter / Mid-States Poker Tour