A regular in the poker room at Canterbury Park, Max Havlish is gearing up for the Mid-States Poker Tour’s season finale.
And playing (and running) well in the $1,100 buy-in Main Event could mean much more than a nice payday.
Havlish, 30, currently stands at No. 4 in the MSPT Player of the Year rankings. A strong showing could vault him to the top spot.
“It would mean a lot,” he said of potentially winning Player of the Year. “I’ve developed a lot of poker friends and we’re all working really hard at it. … To get Player of the Year would just be unreal.”
The Main Event at Canterbury Park and caps off the MSPT season. There are several satellite tournaments before the Day 1A and Day 1B players hit the felt on Dec. 8-9.
Havlish started playing poker like so many others, following the boom created by Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event win over Sammy Farha. He said he started playing home games, as well as “bar poker five nights a week.”
“I didn’t learn a damn thing playing those,” Havlish said.
The Coon Rapids resident eventually started playing at Canterbury Park, which he calls his “home casino,” and saw success, building up his bankroll and regularly playing in the $235 Wednesday night No-Limit Hold’em tournaments.
Havlish said he has enjoyed meeting friends at the poker tables, and the competition of battling it out on the felt. Not one to offer a chop during the late stages of tournaments, he said he’s drawn to the strategy of the game.
“A lot of thinking involved, and I enjoy that,” Havlish said, noting that there is also the “glory that comes with winning.”
Havlish primarily plays tournament poker, but will occasionally play cash games at Canterbury Park or when traveling to Las Vegas. When it comes to MSPT events, he will play in Minnesota, Iowa and sometimes Chicago, and said he’s looking forward to having more MSPT tournaments at Canterbury Park next year.
Despite the higher buy-in for the MSPT Main Event, Havlish said he won’t change his strategy.
“Tight is right,” he said. “ABC poker. I don’t try to get out of line too often. Play patient and look for my spots.”
When it comes to his playing style, Havlish said he doesn’t focus on taking a game-theory optimal approach, but some of his favorite players do, so his game will often reflect GTO principles.
Havlish does have a day job, but he considers himself as skilled as people who only play poker for a living. He spends much of his time watching the game online.
“I have an obsession with poker,” Havlish said.
-By Kris Janisch