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Rich Bai won the largest poker tournament in Wisconsin history. The 2017 Mid States Poker Tour Wisconsin State Poker Championship attracted 701 entries, more than tripling its $200,000 guarantee to build a $678,470 prize pool. Bai claimed the top prize of $139,086.
The Championship took place at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee, marking the first time the MSPT hosted the event. However, it was not the first time the Potawatomi hosted the MSPT, and not Bai’s first time at a final table at an MSPT event in that location.
After narrowly missing an MSPT title three times, Bai relished in the hard-earned victory on his fourth attempt. He told tour officials that he has been “running good lately.” Bai also recently won a World Series of Poker Circuit ring at Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana.
Bai said the two big tournament wins had influenced him to spend more time in major tournaments and less time haunting high stakes cash games. The championship win boosted Bai’s live tournament earnings to $610,430.
Bai faced fierce competition at the final table, which included MSPT South Dakota champion Ahmed Taleb and recent WSOP Circuit winner Max Young. Ultimately it was David Kowal, a fellow Illinois native, that gave Bai the most trouble.
Kowal held nearly a 2-1 chip advantage over Bai at the time third-place finisher Richard Rosas was eliminated. Bai gained the lead with pocket aces versus Kowal’s pocket jacks. The next hand went to Bai, winning with a flush against Kowal’s straight.