Brian Soja finally topped the field of the MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship at Meskwaki Casino in Tama after a couple of near-misses. The player outlasted a field of 455 entrants late last week to collect a top prize of $94,568 and the champion’s trophy.
The tournament took place from July 27 through July 29 and featured two starting flights and a second day of action. As many as 62 survivors returned at the host venue for Day 2 action. Of them, eight had to leave empty-handed as only the top 54 places got paid. Shaun Burnett became the unfortunate bubble boy or the last player to leave the Main Event empty-handed.
Once the money bubble burst and there were 54 players, everyone was looking to secure a seat into the ten-handed final table. Many notables failed in that, though, with some of those being four time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Amrk Fink, former Run It Up Reno champion Blake Cavanagh, and eleventh-place WSOP Main Event finisher Ryan Phan, among others. Phan collected $725,000 for his recent deep run into this year’s edition of the $10,000 World Championship.
Final Table and Heads-Up
Players were nearly even when cards were thrown in the air for final table action. However, it did not take long before the first eliminations occurred. Several players left the table in quick succession. And several of them were eliminated namely by Soja. The eventual champ busted police sergeant Zac Campbell and then Alex Winter. Kipp Smith was also among the final tablists to fall victim to the player who would eventually claim the title and the accompanying first-place payout.
The elimination of Travis Sweet in third place set the heads-up duel between Soja and Kevin Berthelsen. Soja entered the match with a huge chip advantage over his final opponent and never relinquished that to take down the tournament.
On what turned out to be the last hand of the tournament, Berthelsen went all in with [Kd][5d] to Soja’s [Ad][4h]. The [Jc][3c][2s][4s][4c] arrived on the board to seal it for Soja. Berthelsen left the tournament with a consolation prize of $58,104 for his deep run.
Commenting on his performance in recent months, Soja said after his victory that he has had a good year so far, making his fourth or fifth final table appearance for the past seven months. Asked what he was planning to do with his first-place prize of a little less than $95,000, the player said that he and his wife were planning to retire in the next 15 years and that the money would probably go into their bank account to make sure that they would be able to accomplish that goal.
Soja is a father of two sons – Brady (13) and Beckett (5). The player praised the two boys as well as his wife, saying that he was really thankful she has been letting him play a game for money.
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