The $1,500 Monster Stack tournament gives amateurs a way to compete for a WSOP bracelet without spending a fortune. Even still, out of all the amateurs in the 2016 WSOP Monster Stack, Michael Towner seemed like an unlikely candidate to win.
A finance professor at the University of Arizona, Towner had never even played in a WSOP event before. Nevertheless, Towner powered through a field of 6,927 players to win the $1,120,196 top prize.
“I’ve only played in like two events that were buy-ins of more than $100,” Towner admitted after his victory. “I’m like a casual fan who invests maybe an hour a week in this. I really don’t play poker.”
According to Towner, his strategy was to play it safe and wait for his chances.
“I played it pretty straightforward. I didn’t want to get into any marginal spots,” he explained. “Each time I would sit down, I would have some young wizard on my left. I was like, play tight and then wait for a spot. It seemed like some people would blast off occasionally, and of course I got hit with the deck at the right time and it all worked out.”
In the end, the tournament came down to Towner and Dorian Rios, with Towner holding a slight edge. Despite the players having deep stacks and being so close, this heads-up duel didn’t last very long.
Towner won some big hands early and gained a big lead. He was able to put Rios away on a final hand where he held A-7 against Rios’ pair of 3s. A 7 landed on the board and gave Towner the pair he needed to finish this tourney off.
Despite earning a seven-figure poker prize, Towner has no delusions of suddenly becoming a poker pro.
“I came here for a conference and planned to play just one event,” said Towner. “I might play the Main Event, too. But after this, for me, it’s head back to work.”
2016 WSOP $1,500 Monster Stack Final Table
1. Michael Towner – $1,120,196
2. Dorian Rios – $692,029
3. Stephen Nussrallah – $513,902
4. Daniel DiPasquale – $384,338
5. David Pham – $289,497
6. Andrew Moreno – $219,632
7. David Valcourt – $167,838
8. Marshall White – $129,197
9. Cody Pack – $100,185