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Life sciences professor wins Wisconsin's largest poker tournament

12 January 2017

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Season 8 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) kicked off in early January with a $350 Regional Event at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It proved to me a massive affair as 1,228 entries (291 on Day 1a; 410 Day 1b; and 527 Day 1c) packed the ballroom over three starting flights.

That surpassed July's field of 1,169 entrants to make it the largest poker tournament in Wisconsin state history. After four days of play, 32-year-old Craig Trost, a professional in the life sciences field, emerged victorious to capture the title and a $63,252 first-place prize.

"I ran like Usain Bolt," Trost quipped after the win. Prior to this weekend, Trost had just two documented cashes. The first came in 2014 when he finished 291st in the World Series of Poker Monster Stack for $6,368, and in 2015 he placed sixth in the inaugural MSPT Wisconsin State Poker Championship for $21,289.

Trost, who is a respected member of the online Madison Poker Community, is now the winner of the biggest poker tournament ever held in Wisconsin.

"It feels pretty good to win the MSPT Poto Regional, especially now knowing that it's the largest poker tournament in Wisconsin history," Trost said after the win. "At my previous MSPT final table, I didn't run very well or play my best, so it felt a little redemptive to get this one. I had a blast too. I played with several very tough players over the two days, and I think it really made me raise my game."

He continued: "Nothing too exciting planned for the money, I'm pretty boring in that regard. After Uncle Sam gets his chunk, I'll probably play a few more events, throw some at the mortgage and maybe make an upcoming vacation a little longer."

Trost, who started playing poker in high school, began to take the game seriously a year before the "Poker Boom" when Robert Varkonyi won the 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event. A college kid in Madison at the time, Trost didn't have trouble finding a game.

"I picked up a fair amount of live tournament experience in college playing around Madison, and was a regular in the early years of free tournament series called Badger Poker," he explained. "I also played cash tournaments around town, and moved to playing a bit online where I had a fair amount of success until Black Friday. Now I play the occasional tournament, as well as a semi-regular home game in Madison. I've always enjoyed tournaments better than cash, but it's hard to find good tournaments like this one."

Final Table Results
1. Craig Trost (Madison, WI) - $63,252
2. Thomas Scarber (Streator, IL) - $39,198
3. James Prodzinski (Oak Creek, WI) - 28,508
4. Jordan Kumm (Stevens Point, WI) - $21,773
5. Brian Davis (McFarland, WI) - $16,392
6. Erika Obst (New Berlin, WI) - $12,470
7. Mikiyo Aoki (Bozeman, MT) - $9,621
8. Pawel Markowicz (Harwood Heights, IL) - $7,483
9. Lenard Adams (Park Forest, IL) - $6,058
10. Francisco Ramirz (Round Lake, IL) - $4,989

Interestingly, Trost almost locked up first-place money with seven players still in the tournament.

"I had half the chips in play and everyone was relatively even," he said. "I said I'd take first-place money and everyone else could split the remainder. Almost everyone was on board, but during the talk, Thomas Scarber won a flip to eliminate a player and then he wanted to continue to play. It obviously worked out better for him than the deal would have. Since I had a fairly sizable chip advantage, I didn't feel any real pressure to make a deal."

On Day 2, 201 players (49 from Day 1a; 63 Day 1b; and 89 Day 1c) returned to action including Day 1a chip leader Tommy Vo (282,000), Day 1b leader Al Wolfensberger Leazer (550,500), and Day 1c leader Eddie Wood (388,000).

Among the 135 players to cash the event were Season 6 MSPT Potawatomi champ Dan Goepel (134th, $606), MSPT Season 4 Ho-Chunk winner Josh Reichard (91st, $748), start-of-the-day Wolfensberger Leazer (78th, $820), start-of-the-day short stack Howard Hankin (67th, $855), David "The Maven" Gutfreund (50th, $1,033), Jeff Grimes (29th, $1,497), Ryan Leng (23rd, $2,351), Michael Kreitzer (15th, $3,920), and Dan Crawford (12th, $4,989).

The MSPT's next stop is at BestBet Poker, Simulcast and Racing - Jacksonville from 19-29 January for both Regional and Main Events, as well as a slew of side tournaments. The tour will return to Potawatomi 1-9 April for an $1,100 buy-in, $200,000 guaranteed Main Event. For information on those stops and more, visit the front page of the website.

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