When the poker world looks back on 2011, the year will likely be defined by Black Friday and its subsequent consequences. That doesn’t mean there weren’t highlights from this past year though. As we begin 2012, the 4th calendar year of existence for Minnesota Poker Magazine, we’ll take a look back at all the big stories of 2011, the good and the bad.
August marked the month where John Alexander would take over the MNPokerMag Player of the Year race. Alexander would hold that lead for most of the next 5 months, relinquishing the lead for only a couple days during the Fall Poker Classic and then of course for good after the MSPT Canterbury Park in mid-December.
Bill Criego did the unlikely by winning consecutive Wednesday evening tournaments at Canterbury Park. Criego achieved the feat by outlasting some deep fields. On July 27, there were 85 entrants and Criego took it down for $4,930. One week later, Criego did it again. This time outlasting a 102-player field earning $5,916. $10,846 is a nice one-week run.
Several Minnesotans made the trip to Arizona for the 7th Annual Arizona State Poker Championship at Casino Arizona and Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The buy-in was $1,085 for 20,000 starting stack. There were three Day 1’s that ran Friday through Sunday. The field drew over 1,000 players in all. Matt Kirby from Bemidji made the deepest run by reaching Day 3’s final table as chip leader! Unfortunately Kirby lost a huge pot early, his A8 was no good on a Q8A6 board to Alasha’s AQ. Kirby would take home a nice pay day of $31,590 though with an 8th place finish.
Back at Diamond Jo Casino, Bob Cassioppi, who came close in 2010 by finishing 8th, won the 4th Annual Diamond Jo Poker Bash. Cassioppi outlasted a 150-player field to earn $10,476 in the $225+$25 buy-in tournament. The Brackey Brothers from Lake Mills, Iowa had a solid series. After placing 1st and 2nd in Poker Bash Event #1 for a combined $2,600, Tyler and Spencer were back in the money for the Main Event. Tyler who won the 6-man NLHE event placed 9th for $818 and runner-up in the 6-man NLHE event Spencer placed $327.
The month of August was highlighted with the Twin Cities Poker Open at Canterbury Park. Erick Wright of Shoreview, MN had a sensational year on the local, LIVE tournament scene. Wright outlasted a 164-player field to earn the Twin Cities Poker Open title and $41,359. This was Wright’s 3rd deep run in a major tournament in 2011. He also won the Running Aces Anniversary Tournament on May 29 for $19,255. That past February Wright placed runner-up only after a tough beat to Matt Hyland in the Minnesota Freeze Out for $23K. Wright had just been featured on the July issue of Minnesota Poker Magazine for his win at Running Aces.