On Oct. 14, Matt Stammen outlasted 1,271 entries to become the 2018 MSPT Michigan State Poker Champion. Stammen collected $218,565 for his efforts and also claimed his first major victory on the felt.
FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan is a favorite stop for The Mid-States Poker Tour. It usually holds two events a year at the Michigan casino. To show you just how popular it is, this year’s Poker Championship marked the fourth consecutive event with a prize pool of over $1 million.
Last May’s poker event drew 1,287 entries making it the largest poker tournament in Michigan History. This year’s Michigan State Poker Championship came close with 1,271. After the victory, Stammen spoke to the MSPT staff:
“I’m elated, what can I say? It’s unbelievable. I threw my money in the hat, and it worked out.”
Playing poker in his brother’s shadow
Stammen is the older brother of poker professional Kevin Stammen. The younger Stammen, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, has collected over $5.7 million in live tournament winnings. While Kevin is busy on the felt, Matt hangs out in a warehouse most days. Stammen works in Ohio as a shipping manager.
Not to be upstaged by his brother, Stammen had no problem claiming the spotlight for a change while his younger brother looked on. Stammen talked about having his brother on the rail:
“He’s 12 years younger and been yelling at me the whole tournament. He’s been giving me a little bit of advice, let’s put it that way. It’s all about the trophy, I wanted one of those trophies so bad. The money is a bonus.”
Stammen has to forgo the usual winner’s walk to Disney World. Instead, just a few short hours after hoisting the trophy, Stammen is headed into planned knee surgery.
“The weekend went perfect,” Stammen said. “I asked them to move my surgery back just in case this happened. It was like it was all meant to be. I’ve got foot drop, so they’re going to cut a hole in my knee to loosen up a nerve. I’ll be off work the next four to six weeks.”
Michigan represented at the final table
Four of the final 10 players hailed from the Wolverine State. It was Michigander Derek Ritchie who was the first to hit the rail. Ritchie came into the final table short-stacked. He was unable to find the double up with a king-eight against Isaac Kratchman’s pocket tens. With the elimination, the table found its last nine players.
Michigan lost another chance to keep the trophy at home when Dennis Brady found his pocket threes dominated by Stammen’s kings. Kings make another appearance, this time by Kratchman. They were good enough to send Jason Mangold home holding ace-jack.
Frank Lagodich exited in seventh place when his ace-ten couldn’t improve against Joey Wideman’s ace-jack. It wasn’t long after that Heinz Schluter from Germany hit the rail. Play slowed down for a while as the big money came into sight. Eventually, though, Victor Gayheart found Kratchman with another pocket pair, this time queens. His ace-nine failed to improve, and he exited in fifth place.
The most well known of the final table, Maurice Hawkins, was next to leave. He lost most of his chips when his ace-five couldn’t outrun the pocket eights of Wideman.
The championship comes to an end
The final all-in came a few hands later. Surprisingly, Kratchman, who knocked out three of the seven eliminated players, was next to exit the tournament. After leading the field on Day 1A, his ace-nine wasn’t good enough against Stammen’s king-jack.
Sadly, with Kratchman on the rail, the Michigan State Trophy was headed out of state. It took 234 hands to bring the final table action and the tournament to a close. The money went in pre-flop. Stammen held ace-jack and Wideman had ten-nine.
There was hope of a straight for Wideman after the flop, but it didn’t materialize and he left in second place.
Michigan State Championship Final Table Results
- Matt Stammen from Coldwater, OH ($218,565)
- Joey Wideman from Belle Chasse, LA ($135,451)
- Isaac Kratchman from Detroit, MI ($98,510)
- Maurice Hawkins from Lake Worth, FL ($75,237)
- Victor Gayheart from Plainwell, MI ($56,643)
- Heinz Schluter from Denver, CO ($43,098)
- Frank Lagodich from Canton, OH ($33,247)
- Jason Mangold from Chicago, IL ($25,859)
- Dennis Brady from Traverse City, MI ($20,933)
- Derek Ritchie from New Boston, MI ($17,239)