FireKeepers Casino Hotel Smashes Previous MSPT Record

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Central Michigan’s FireKeepers Casino Hotel has broken a FireKeepers Mid-State Poker Tour record during its leg of the MSPT. Each year the FireKeepers MSPT event brings thousands of players to Battle Creek, Michigan. Last May, the Mid-States Poker event drew 2,300 entries with a prize pool of $2,260,100, a record at the time for FireKeepers and any mid-western state. This year resulted in another record-breaking event, with 2,471 entries and a total prize pool of $2,395,370. 

The largest of the MSPT events still takes place in Las Vegas (yes, the one not in the Midwest) each year. In fact, the tournament features multiple events in Las Vegas throughout the season, despite being called the Mid-States Poker Tournament. The next MSPT event at the Battle Creek FireKeepers Casino will take place October 12th – 15th, the Michigan State Poker Championship tournament

“Our collaboration with MSPT and the hard work of our team has once again resulted in record-breaking attendance and prize pools,” said FireKeepers Poker Manager, Kelley Bailey. “The FireKeepers team aims to consistently surpass expectations, ensuring that players return for more exciting events. We are already looking forward to our upcoming major events with great anticipation.” 

The MSPT was started as the Minnesota State Poker Tour in 2009. In just a couple of years, the tournament series quickly developed into a multi-state event known as the Mid-States Poker Tour. Now the Mid-States Poker Tour features more than 30 events a year, with events in California and Colorado. 

More about the event

This spring’s tournament lasted from May 11th through the 14th. The $1,110 buy-in event started with 2,471 players competing across four days of action. Of the initial 2,471 players, 252 earned prize money. 

The final table featured many MSPT experts besides the (now) three-time winner, Kou Vang. Edward “Edub” Dixon left the final table first, earning $37,128. Ray Ezzie was taken out by Robert Strunk, finishing his tournament in 8th, with $46,710. Austin Thieleman (7th) and James Wilson (6th) then faced off against Vang, ending the day with $59,884 and $76,652, respectively. The final table was then down to five. Melissa Bertelme, the final table’s only female player, earned $97,252. Fourth and third place was taken by George Abi-Zeid and Robert Strunk, who earned $126,955 and $162,885, respectively. Dash Dudley, a three-time WSOP winner, couldn’t even defeat Vang, ending the tournament in second place, earning himself $257,145. 

Kou Vang walked away with his biggest poker win yet, $314,145. 

“Feels great,” said Vang. “This is the reason why we play the game is to get life-changing scores like this. I play the game to provide for my family the best I can, and 300k should go a long way.”

About FireKeepers Casino Hotel

Located just off Interstate 94 in Battle Creek, MI, the FireKeepers Casino Hotel boasts an impressive casino floor, an AAA-rated Diamond resort-style hotel with 446 rooms, multiple event spaces and lounges, six restaurants, and more. The casino/hotel also was recognized as 2019 Employer of the Year by Michigan Works! Association. The casino and hotel are owned and operated by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. The Indian community and casino have continuously helped the local community with philanthropy efforts. 

Final PlacePlayer NamePrize Money WonPoints Awarded
1Kou Vang$314,1452,000
2Dash Dudley$257,1451,800
3Robert Strunk$162,8851,700
4George Abi-Zeid$126,9551,600
5Melissa Bartelme$97,2521,500
6James Wilson$76,6521,400
7Austin Thieleman$59,8841,300
8Ray Ezzie$46,7101,200
9Edward “EDub” Dixon$37,1281,100

Mac Daniel is a writer for PlayOnlineCasino and PlayOnlineSportsBetting. He has experience writing about a wide variety of topics, including healthcare, tourism, non-profit organizations, and most recently casino and sportsbetting news. To check out more of his work, visit: