Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)

MSPT Venetian flourishes, Bally's Main Event Mania fizzles
Posted on: April 15, 2021 12:12 PDT

What is the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT)?

The Mid-Stakes Poker Tour aims to fill a gap between the pageantry of big buy-in tourneys — like the World Series Of Poker and World Poker Tour — and the daily small-stakes tournaments from most poker rooms. In its own self-description , the organization says its events are “a series of affordable deep stack no-limit hold’em tournaments designed for ‘weekend warriors.’”

The MSPT gives lower-stakes players the same thrill as playing in a larger series, but without the sticker shock. Where larger series tend to run events at price points between $300 and $10,000 per buy-in, the MSPT focuses on series made up of events with $80 to $1,100 buy-ins. In normal years, when play isn’t stymied by pandemic concerns, the MSPT also runs smaller regional events. These regionals use the same structures as the main series, but at even lower buy-ins.

When are MSPT Events Being Held This Year?

While 2021’s schedule was a little sparse compared to some years, the MSPT still ran most of its events. Only a few casinos continued with strict Covid-19 protocols that prohibited normal MSPT events, but those ended in 2021. 

The 2022 schedule began at Sycuan Casino in California and Bally’s Black Hawk in Colorado, followed by stops at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Riverside Casino in Iowa, Running Aces in Minnesota, Jack Cleveland Casino in Iowa, Firekeepers in Michigan, and Silverado in South Dakota. The schedule for second half of the 2022 year is as follows:

Date Location Main Event Title Number of Events
July 6-17 Bally’s Black Hawk, Black Hawk, Colorado Showdown Series – $400,000 Guarantee 9 (+ Satellites)
July 21-24 Riverside Casino, Riverside, Iowa Iowa State Poker Championship – $300,000 Guarantee 3 (+ Satellites)
Aug 19-21 Grand Falls Casino, Sioux Falls, South Dakota Main Event – $200,000 Guarantee 1 (+ Satellites)
Sep 3-5 The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada Main Event – Guarantee TBD TBD
Sep 15-25 Sycuan Casino Resorts, San Diego, California United States Poker Championship – $400,000 Guarantee TBD
Oct 13-16 Firekeepers Casino, Battle Creek, Michigan Michigan State Poker Championship – $1,000,000 Guarantee TBD
Oct 21-23 Silverado Casino, Deadwood, South Dakota Deadwood Shootout – $100,000 Guarantee TBD
Oct 27-30 Riverside Casino, Riverside, Iowa Main Event – $300,000 Guarantee TBD

Prospective players can see full schedules for each of these stops on the MSPT’s Events Page . Players can also find the most up-to-date scheduling there.

Mid-States Poker Tour Play Format

MSPT’s main events are all deep stack, multi-day tournaments. The main events allow rebuys for the first 13 blind levels (ending at 1,500-2,500 with a 2,500 BB ante). They tend to have two or three first days, allowing for additional re-entries for any players who bust out on Day 1a.

Starting stacks are usually 25,000 in chips with starting blinds of 100-100, and a big blind ante of 100. Blind levels are 40 minutes long, and the big blind ante transitions to a standard ante when the tourney is down to 24 players. Smaller events generally follow a similar format to the main event, with small adjustments. These changes tend to be straightforward changes up or down.

Most amendments are made to the blind level length (typically moved down to 20-30 minutes per level), the length of the rebuy period (down to 9 levels typically), and the number of days for which the smaller events run (they are usually just one day events). All events occur on standard 8-handed tables.

MSPT Payout Structure

MSPT events pay out to the top 10% of players (with slight adjustments). For example, the Riverside Casino Main Event in March 2021 paid out to the top 90 players of the 862-player field. Top finishers in an event of this size received:

  • 20% for first
  • 12% for second
  • 8.5% for third
  • 6.4% for fourth
  • 4.8% for fifth
  • 3.6% for sixth
  • 2.8% for seventh
  • 2.2% for eighth
  • This continues down to a min-cash of roughly double the player’s buy-in.

A full breakdown for other field sizes can be found on the MSPT About page .

History of MSPT

The Minnesota State Poker Tour was founded in 2009. After a successful first year, it moved into Iowa. In the following years, the series expanded again and again until it was in far too many states to still call itself a Minnesota tour. The higher-ups rebranded the event to the Mid-States Poker Tour, allowing the organization to keep the same acronym and most of its logo art.

Since then the series’ successes have carried it to major gambling hubs including Vegas, California, and Colorado. It continued to expand until COVID caused a temporary contraction in the live poker market . In 2022, though, almost every casino had welcomed MSPT poker tournaments back to their poker rooms, with some even adding additional stops.

Despite its growth, the majority of the stops on the tour have remained true to its midwestern origins. Although the series targets amateur players, several big-name pros have entered events (Jamie Gold, Annette Obrestad, and Greg Raymer) or won the MSPT player of the year award (Matt Salsberg and Mukul Pahuja). Live streaming and RFID technology have allowed the series to air its main event final tables on the internet in recent years, further enhancing its reach.