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Taylor Howard Wins Mid-States Poker Tour South Dakota State Poker Championship

The Iowa Native Defeated A Field of 585 Entries To Win $119,165 and His Second MSPT Title


The 2021 Mid-States Poker Tour South Dakota State Poker Championship $1,100 buy-n no-limit hold’em main event attracted 585 total entries, blowing away the $100,000 guarantee to build a prize pool of $567,450. In the end, Taylor Howard emerged victorious with his second MSPT title and the first-place prize of $119,165. The Iowa native had previously won the MSPT Meskwaki main event back in 2018 for $89,939. Howard now has $282,614 in career live tournament earnings to his name.

In addition to the title and the money, Howard also earned 840 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. This was his second POY-qualified score of the year, having placed fifth in a $1,000 buy-in six-max no-limit hold’em event at the bestbet Jacksonville Winter Open back in January for $6,356 and 120 points. As a result of these two scores, Howard currently sits in a three-way tie for 43rd place in the 2021 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker.

This event featured two starting flights, with day 1A drawing 265 entries while day 1B added another 320. The total field of 585 was the largest ever for a main event of $1,000 or higher buy-in held at Silverado-Franklin Casino in Deadwood, South Dakota. Just 82 players survived to day 2, with Howard sitting in 18th chip position when the day began. A number of big names were among the 63 players to cash in this event, including three-time World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner Adam Friedman (29th – $2,724), three-time MSPT champion Matt Kirby (24th – $4,142), 2018 MSPT player of the year Aaron Johnson (21st – $4,994), and POY race contender Nicholas Pupillo (16th – $5,675).

Cy Church had overtaken the chip lead by the time the final table of nine was set, with Howard sitting in fourth place. He scored the first two knockouts at the final table, busting Tim Dunse (9th – $10,782) and Clint Lilienthal (8th – $13,616) to climb into third place on the leaderboard. Wesley Ismay was the next to fall, earning $17,591 for his seventh-place showing.

Howard secured his third elimination at the final table when his A-Q held up against the A-J of John Nidhiry (6th – $22,698). Michael Kinzer’s run in this event concluded when his QHeart Suit5Heart Suit couldn’t overcome the ASpade Suit6Spade Suit of Church. Kinzer earned $30,075 as the fifth-place finisher.

Howard doubled through Paul Camby during four-handed play, getting all-in with a set of jacks against the open-ended straight draw of his opponent. Howard’s set held up and he surged into the chip lead. Camby was ultimately eliminated in fourth place when his bluff with A-8 ran into the turned trips of Church. Camby cashed for $39,772 as a result of his deep run in this event.

A classic preflop race situation determined the third-place finisher. Church got his last chips in with AHeart SuitKSpade Suit against the QSpade SuitQHeart Suit of John Schroer. The board ran out AClub SuitQDiamond Suit10Club SuitKHeart Suit8Club Suit and Schroer hit a set of queens to send Church to the rail in third place ($53,340).

Heads-up play began with Schroer in the lead, but Howard quickly turned the tables by winning a sizable pot with a rivered set of fives. By the time the final hand was dealt, Howard held a strong chip advantage over Schroer. Howard raised to 600,000 from the button with ASpade SuitADiamond Suit and Schroer defended his big blind with 5Heart Suit4Diamond Suit. The flop came down 10Heart Suit4Spade Suit3Heart Suit and Schroer checked. Howard bet 400,000 and Schroer called. The 2Club Suit on the turn drew another check from Schroer. Howard bet 500,000 and Schroer check-raised all-in. Howard made the call with his pocket aces and was ahead of the pair and straight draw of his opponent. The 9Heart Suit on the river was no help to Schroer and he was eliminated in second place. He earned $73,201 as the runner-up.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Taylor Howard $119,165 840
2 John Schroer $73,201 700
3 Cy Church $53,340 560
4 Paul Camby $39,772 420
5 Michael Kinzer $30,075 350
6 John Nidhiry $22,698 280
7 Wesley Ismay $17,591 210
8 Clint Lilienthal $13,616 140
9 Tim Dunse $10,782 70

Winner photo via MSPT Twitter account.