The Free Poker Network (FPN) MN State Championship took place on Saturday at Running Aces Harness Park. This was for FPN’s “Golden Ticket” promotion – a chance to win a 1-year $10,000 poker pro contract.
There were 264 qualifiers with an announced 208 actually appearing to play. The top 16 would win seats in the National Championship being held on Dec. 10 in Las Vegas with the top 7 also getting an air/hotel package to Harrah’s Casino. Only 26 players had previously qualified for a National Championship, Karaoke being one of them. This was also FPN’s 24th State Championship in MN. Karaoke Phil has only been playing in the FPN for 9 of those – this was his 9th consecutive championship.
Karaoke took 19th and just missed Nationals a year ago in his 7th attempt. He held on through the bubble to take 15th place and qualify for Nationals this past spring. He was returning for a repeat.
Phil only had a single stack for this tourney having won Erick’s Bar outright in the Spring Season but not gaining a second stack from Summer – about 30 attendees started with the advantage of 2 stacks. Karaoke arrived a few minutes late and missed the first 3 hands of the tournament. Levels 1 and 2 were uneventful. Flopped sets of 4s and Qs moved Phil up to about 13.5K in chips during level 3, but a slow drain through level 4 and a missed chase in level 5 dropped him to 9700 by first break – the end of level 5. Still, he felt good about his play.
Karaoke hit his low during level 8 and got his first suck out of the day. With binds at 400/800 and in the big blind (BB ) – Phil was dealt Ac8c. It folded around to the cutoff who limped. The button and small blinds folded. Phil shoved his last 4.8K of chips. The villain snap called with A/J. Karaoke turned his flush to move up to 11.6K in chips. By the end of the level he was up to 12.4K in chips and a 134 players of the starting 208 remained.
Level 10 brought a lot of volatility. After chipping and ending level 9 with 18.4K in chips Karaoke dropped to 11.3K in this level – only to double up against an aggressive villain. On the button, the villain raised to 3600 (blinds 800/1600). Karaoke in the BB smooth called with A/4 off. The flop came out 4/6/7 with 2 hearts. Phil shoved and the villain called with AhJh for one over and nut flush draw. The board ran clean for Phil. Two hands later with Phil OTB with 9s the same villain again raised to 3600. Karaoke smooth called and the two went to battle again heads up. Karaoke had wanted to see the flop with the intention of betting it heavily if it looked good. The flop, again came out 4/6/7 – this time with 2 diamonds. The villain shoved for about 18.5K more. This was the flop Karaoke was looking to see. He didn’t believe the villain had Ts or better. Maybe A/6 or A/7, but Phil felt he was certainly ahead. He snapped called leaving himself about 2K behind. The villain shows Kd/Jd for two overcards and another flush draw. Again, the board ran clean. Karaoke eliminated the villain and moved up to 46K. The level ended a couple hands later and 104 runners were still alive.
An error by Karaoke in Level 11 gave him a commanding chip count and some respect at the table. Phil was under the gun (UTG) but mistakenly though he was in the BB. Action was on him but it took him 10 to 15 seconds to realize it as he was observing other players. He quickly checked his cards – saw Js – and blurted out 4500 with blinds now at 1K/2K. Everyone folded except the small blind (SB ) who smooth called. The flop came out T/J/8. The SB checked. Karaoke bet 4700. The SB raised to 13K. Phil had visions of Q/9, but shoved all in with his top set. The SB called with bottom set, 8s. Karaoke rivered quad Js and moved his chip stack to 107K.
While it was fairly clear no one wanted to challenge him without a big hand, Phil also did not want to squander his chips. There were only 80 players or so left and Phil could begin to smell 16th. He decided to continue laying back and playing position and quality hands. He ended level 12 with 96.5K in chips and 63 players remaining.
Level 13 gave Karaoke the tournament chip lead (we believe). He moved up to 114K with Qs and then got a stack all in. Karaoke had A/K OTB and the SB had Js. Phil hit a K on the flop to eliminate the SB and move up to 215K in chips. It was also clear that overall he was playing well. A few hands later with As3s in the cutoff, Phil raised to 10.5K with blinds now at 2K/4K. The BB moved all in for 49K total. Phil tanked. There was 23K in the pot and another 38.5K to call. Phil felt he was behind, said as much and folded. The BB tossed an Ace on the table. Phil said, “Yeah, I had one of those, too.” The BB’s response was to toss another Ace onto the table. Karaoke dodged bullets and ended the level with 210.5K chips and 50 players left.
Things begin to get fast and furious at this point. Phil held steady through level 14, ending with 212.5K in chips and 43 people left. At this point he began folding a lot of hands – looking to make the top 16, but looking to pick up a set of blinds (and the antes that had now kicked in) each time around the table – looking to hold steady.
End of levels chip counts from 15 to 18 moved from a low of 182K to a high of 207K with Phil holding 199K in chips at the end of level 18 and on the championship bubble – 17 players left.
FPN cameras captured the level 19 hand in which two players were eliminated – bringing us down to 15 and securing Karaoke Phil a second consecutive MN State Championship title.
Phil was now up to 259K in chips. However, with 11 players left, Phil moved all in with A/Q. He was simply hoping to pick up the blinds and antes, but the BB had pocket 9s and put his tournament on the line. This time Phil couldn’t hit and he dropped to 76K in chips which he took with him to the final table.
Karaoke outlasted the shortest stack, but was getting blinded down and out. In the SB (15K) and only another 10K behind he looked down at 9/2 off. It was folded around to him. It was a chance to go heads up for about 75K – still not a lot, but maybe enough to get to the top 7. He called all-in for less. The BB showed A/Q. The flop came out 2/Q/2 giving Phil the lead with trips to a pair of Qs. The turn, however, flipped the lead as a Q came out giving the villain a full house of Qs full of 2s to Phil’s boat of 2s full of Qs. The river bricked and Phil was out in 9th.
A solid run, a second state championship for Phil and an upcoming second National Championship Tourney in December. Congrats, Karaoke Phil!!