The North Dakota Texas Hold'em Poker Championship Tournament held at The Vegas Motel and Sevens Bar & Restaurant in Minot is well on its way to having another successful year.
Wendy Ruppert, general manager of The Vegas Motel and creator and co-founder of the North Dakota Texas Hold 'em Poker Championship Tournament, said there were approximately 786 registered players through Saturday. The goal is to pull in at least 1,200 players and offer a $45,000 first prize.
Today is the second qualifying day, with the championship round to be held on Monday, and Ruppert said they should be able to reach 1,200 players if Saturday is any indication.
Over 700 players participated in the North Dakota Texas Hold’em Poker Championship Tournament held at The Vegas Motel in Minot during a qualifying round Saturday. Another round will be held today, with the championship to happen on Monday.
"So we're in line for surpassing that," Ruppert said.
The tournament resumes today at noon, with Ruppert noting they will have the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers on so football fans can watch or play in the poker tournament and not miss the Vikings' regular season finale.
This is the largest poker tournament in the continental United States outside of Las Vegas, and Ruppert said along with many Canadians, players come from all over, including Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, California and even Las Vegas itself.
Ruppert said the number of players has gone up every year since the tournament began in 2004. That first year there were 387 players, while last year they had 1,852 players. She said they only have a goal of 1,200 players this year because the entry fee was changed from $100 per spot in 2011 to $150 per spot this year.
They did this because of a state law that allows the playing of $300 for a total tournament per participant. Players are allowed to play during both qualifying rounds if they wish, which costs $150 per round.
"When we raised it to $150 perhaps we'd have a few less players, but obviously the tournament is still growing because the prize pool is still going up," Ruppert said.
Players range in age this year from 21, which is the youngest age allowed in the tournament, to 87.
Ruppert also noted part of the funds will go to the Minot State University Alumni Association, making this the largest charity poker tournament in the United States.
Ruppert said the tournament has become such a success because of the people who support it, and to them she has a very special message.
"We thank the community for its support and we thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tournament and helping it to grow every year," Ruppert said. "Thank you so much."