Bob Tweten, League Champ of the Spring session at El Roco in Grand Forks, one of the ORIGINAL players dating back to the early days of the poker league (has at least 54 all-time wins in the league since 2007), beat THE BLIZZARD and 230 national qualifiers to take The CROWN, The TROPHY, and The CASH.
What a weekend.
In a streak of bad luck for everyone involved, The Blizzard of 2019 turned in to a serious threat to the Cash King National Championship. Flights were cancelled. Roads were closed. Players throughout the upper Midwest flying out of Chicago, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Fargo, and Grand Forks, and possibly others (?) dealt with serious delays or cancelled flights. For the majority of players in the league, just getting to Vegas was a win. We heard story after story about players and their nightmarish travel situations, many doing whatever it took to get out of town, including driving in blizzard conditions.
For Bob Tweten, beating the Blizzard to get out of town was more difficult than winning the final tournament. With the interstate closed, Tweten had to take back roads to Fargo from his hometown of Hillsboro (about 45 miles) in order to catch his flight to Las Vegas.
“It was no big deal, really.” Tweten said with a smile. “I’ve done it before.”
That same cool, calm, and collected demeanor showed on the final table. With a gallery of 50+ onlookers, poker pro Mitch Schock calling the action, and a difference of $24k between 5th and 1st place, Tweten calmly won hand after hand, and eventually collected all the chips. AND $25,000 COLD HARD CASH. When asked if he felt any stress or pressure on the final table, “Nah, you just play the game and see what happens.”
Bob Tweten wasn't the only big winner. Runner up Michael Ackermann from Lake City, MN won $10,000. Ackermann proved the potential value of Scratch Poker cards is REAL. For those unaware, any time you win a regular tournament in the Free Poker Network you receive Scratch Poker card. Simply scratch 7 out of the 52 possible cards to make a poker hand. Four of a Kind or better instantly qualifies for Nationals. Mike Ackermann and a handful of players qualified this way. The difference with Michael and everyone else was that HE LITERALLY PLAYED ONLY ONE NIGHT in the league...June 25th, to be exact. He just so happened to be at Port 104 having a drink when he was talked into playing poker to help boost attendance numbers. Oh, my. He went on to win that night and, yes, scratched off Four of a Kind. Sure enough, he went on to nearly win the whole thing. His story proves what we've told casual players for years, it IS possible to win the grand prize playing just 2 tournaments. Ha!
So now we can tell casual players with confidence, YES it IS possible, and YES it HAS happened!
Another interesting fact in this tournament was the final table featured 4 players from South Dakota who play together at the same bars. Andrew Roberson Mojo's Yankton (3rd Place - $5,000), Ben Tesch Thirsty Duck Sioux Falls (5th Place - $1,000), Mike Chilarski Vermillion Eagles (6th Place - $750), and Terry Williams Mojo's Yankton (8th Place - $500). Andrew Roberson appeared to have all the stars aligning at the right time. After being down and out in a bad first half of the trip Friday night, a buddy helped spot him entry in the 7pm nightly cash tournament, and he went on to take 2nd. Saturday afternoon his name was drawn to challenge 3-time bracelet winner Dutch Boyd (pictured, with over $2.7 million in tournament winnings) to a headsup match for $100 free. Roberson won the match. It wasn't surprising to see him making a deep run at the end.
The Top 3 players all earned Grand Prize-Level wins, and we already can't wait to see what happens in the Main Event Mania promotion.
The CASH KING promotion was controversial in that it introduced new wrinkles to the qualifying/final tournament format for the first time in several years. Instead of only ONE way to qualify (winning at State tourney), new qualifiers were added at the National level. League Champs and TOC winners had their own bonus freeroll qualifier, and Last Chance Cash qualifiers were introduced to boost the prize pool. The end result was 124 players (80 directly qualified) competing for $50,000 cash prize pool. Last year at this time, 109 players competed for a $15,000 prize pool.
Here are the Top 30 Players:
- Bob Tweten, El Roco, Grand Forks, ND $25,000
- Michael Akermann, Port 104, Lake City, MN $10,000
- Andrew Roberson, Mojo’s Yankton, SD $5,000
- Mike Weidenfeld Jr, Eagles Club, Norfolk, NE $1,500
- Ben Tesch - Thirsty Duck, Sioux Falls, SD $1,000
- Mike Chilarski - Eagles Club, Vermillion, SD $750
- Mike Mejia - Office Bar & Grill, Channahon, IL $750
- Terry Williams - Mojo’s, Yankton, SD $500
- Sue Bona - Black Sheep Bar, Orland Park, IL $500
- Rob Grubbs - Slammer’s, Fargo, ND $500
- Shane Frahm - Eagles Club, Wayne, NE $250
- Nathan Iverson - Beresford, SD $250
- Shawn Vargo - Log Cabin, Camplibell, NY $250
- Greg Larson - Route 47, Fridley, MN $250
- Allan Ziemann - Bismarck Amvets $250
- Dave Johnson - PiG Dog Pub, Montgomery, IL $250
- Leonard Melgaard - 4 Mile Bar, Williston, ND $250
- Al Buhr - Denton Daily Double, Denton, NE $250
- Brandon Schmidt - The Bowler, Fargo, ND $250
- Jordan Meinke - Lakeside Bar & Grill, Isanti, MN $250
- Mike Bremer - Demma’s, Oak Lawn, IL $200
- Jim Paskett - El Roco’s, Grand Forks, ND $200
- David Beasley - McKinney’s Bar & Grill, Benson, MN $200
- Steve Reilly-Finch, PiG Dog Pub, Montgomery, IL $200
- Shawn Zuniga - Mounds Sports Bar, St. Paul, MN $200
- Jeff Flaten - Buddies Bar & Grill, Hancock, MN $200
- Russ Victoria - Q Bar, Darien, IL $200
- Rudy Duran - Time Out Hut, Lexington, NC $200
- Steve Kreps - O’Leary’s, Moorhead, MN $200
- Larry Hoffman, Eagles Club, Norfolk, NE $200
Bob Tweten qualified by playing at the El Roco in Grand Forks, where he has has been a regular for over a decade. His perseverance paid off! El Roco hosts games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights weekly, with about 35 players on the average. Tweten was the Spring quarter League Champ which automatically earned him the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas.
Here is a video of Bob Tweten's final table experience:
Next up is the Main Event Mania National Championship this summer, where the top 3 players will each earn a $10,000 Main Event Seat. Additional cash prizes will be awarded to the Top 30 players. There is still time to qualify for the upcoming playoffs this Spring if you haven't already. And new bars to the league can still get involved. And remember, ANYONE 21+ can play in the monthly VIP qualifier for a direct seat in the final tournament plus travel voucher.