- Associated Press - Monday, January 4, 2016

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - A Stanly man is North Dakota’s new poker champion.

Bryan Gustafson outlasted more than 1,200 other players at the 12th annual North Dakota Texas Hold ‘em Championship at the Vegas Motel in Minot. The four-day event wrapped up Saturday.

Gustafson took home the top prize of $50,000, in his third attempt at winning the tournament.

“I just wanted to do better every year I played, and now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he told KXMC-TV. “You can’t do better than first place.”

Jeremy Berg, of Minot, was the runner-up and earned $18,000. Jill Schlecht, of Streeter, took third and $10,000.

The state poker tournament is modeled after the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. This year’s tournament drew players from 17 states and Canada.

The event 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. The title usually goes to a North Dakotan - only three champions through the years have been from out of state, two from Canada and one from California.

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.

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