- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s poker champion is being crowned in Minot this week.

The 12th annual North Dakota Texas Hold ‘em Championship is being held at the Vegas Motel starting Wednesday night. The event is modeled after the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

North Dakota tournament co-founder Wendy Rupert expects up to 1,500 players this year. The tournament has grown from fewer than 400 participants in its inaugural year in 2004 and is billed as one of the largest poker tournaments in the country.

“We’re happy that the tournament has grown to such a large size and such a benefit to the community, and having a positive economic impact on the community,” Rupert told KXMC-TV.

The charity tournament benefits a scholarship fund at Minot State University. Officials estimate the event’s impact to the city economy at $2 million annually, according to the Minot Daily News.



This year’s champion will be crowned Saturday. The tournament’s top prize is $50,000, and it pays out to the top 100 places. This year’s prize pool is $172,000, up from last year’s $145,000 total payout.

Two of the past champions have been from Canada, one has been from California and the rest have been from North Dakota. However, the tournament has drawn interest from across the country.

“We’ve had players from 39 states and seven different countries,” Rupert said. “There has also been a lot of interest with out-of-state oil workers over the past few years.”

Preston Dean of Minot is the reigning champ. He beat out more than 1,300 people for the 2014 crown.

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Online:

Tournament site: https://www.thevegasmotel.com/pokertournament.php

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