MSPT Venetian shows live poker’s health is not just for high rollers

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 06/08/2021

The 2021 Mid-Stakes Poker Tour Venetian $1,100 Main Event is another piece of proof that the post-COVID live poker boom isn’t just for big events.

2,790 players turned out to play at the Venetian. Together they scraped together a prize pool of $2,692,350. This absolutely smashed the previous MSPT record field. The previous record was held by the South Dakota field with 585 players in attendance. This made for $367,801 up top for first. The money eventually went to Harlan, Miller who beat Ryan Dodd heads-up for the title.

The high turnout is encouraging at a time when casinos are reopening, but not all their poker rooms are following suit.

The World Poker Tour has held record-breaking events recently with their Season XVIII finale — the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open — and the WPTDeepStacks Gold Coast. It was unclear for a while if the successes of a brand as big as the WPT was a good sign for live poker in general. It could have represented a bottleneck in the market, whereby customers moved to big brands at the cost of the little(r) guys like the MSPT.

So it is encouraging to see the MSPT doing well in a slightly lower-stakes category. Even if it did happen on the Vegas strip, the poker capital of the world. The more events that show attendance like this, the more confident we can all feel about our game coming back strong in the post-pandemic world.

The MSPT tweeted a picture of Miller with the caption, “Your newest MSPT Main Event Champion.”

Classic flips for all the chips

Harlen Miller came by his win in classic fashion. The 63-year-old had to fade a field that included sharks like Shannon Shorr, Joe Cada, and Mike Dentale.

The final table felt like a truly classic series of match-ups. Four of the seven elimination hands involved AxKx. One of these was a QQ v. AK hand.

Miller had a pretty easy run of it once heads up. He started one-on-one play with 56 million in chips to his opponent’s 8 million. But in the final hand it came down to another classic preflop match up when he got it in preflop with pocket queens against A♠J♠. His queens held their 2-1 edge and he took down the event.

In a post-game interview, Miller told reporters that he had skipped his niece’s wedding to play the event. The familial gamble paid off. “At least now I can get her a better wedding present,” he joked.

MSPT Venetian final table results

PositionPlayer NamePrize
1stHarlen Miller$367,801
2ndRyan Dodd$236,927
3rdAlbert Knafo$177,695
4thMatthew Elsby$140,002
5thJonathan Tamayo$107,694
6thThong Tran$86,166
7thBobby Noel$67,309
8thJimmy Lujan$50,885
9thAaron Massey$40,385

Featured image source: Twitter