Borrowed Bucks Road House in Bismarck hosted the WPT 4-week state championship tournament. After regional contests, 49 players were remaining with a chance to capture the title. 47 out of the 49 qualifiers were able to make the trip to take a shot at winning a trip to Las Vegas and the opportunity to play in the $2,500 World Poker Tour Super Satellite event at the Bellagio...
Play in the early levels of the tournament was unbelievably tight with only one player being eliminated in the first two levels. Leonard Melgaard of Million Dollar Lanes in Williston was unfortunately that person when a higher full house ended up sending him to the rail. Leonard was a good sport and did not go home empty handed. An Official DPL hat was his consolation prize.
Aggressive play was rewarded in the early levels due to the tight play, one of the early chip leaders at the first break was Jason Tuel from Hagges. (Due to the lack of poor note taking on my part, exact chip counts are going to be sketchy). Every time I glanced at his table he was in a hand, making a raise or dragging a pot.
After the first break we ended up with the first wave of casualties as the blinds increased and the level of play loosened. I was quickly down to 3 tables as the dinner break approached.
At the Dinner Break are top 4 chip leaders were:
Jim Nelson 93,000 (Midway Lanes, Mandan) Mitch Donley 43,500 (pictured right) (Hagge’s, Mapleton) Jason Tuel 42,000 (Hagge’s, Mapleton) Mike Albrecht 39,500 (Old Broadway, Fargo)
Jim Nelson had a commanding 2:1 chip lead at this point and looked poised to sail to the final table. We were quickly down to the final two tables after the dinner breaks as the short stacks were put down mercifully. With players re-seated for the final two tables the race was on for the trip to the Bellagio.
As the players dwindled toward the final table a couple of quick notes of interest. The last woman standing, 16th place, was Joanne “Grandma Poker” Mattson (pictured left) from 12th Street Lounge in Grafton. Don’t let this little white haired lady fool you, when she sits down on the table she means business!!! Mike Albrecht from the OB was unfortunately the bubble boy, 10th place, for the final table.
The final table (pictured right) was dominated with three players from Hagge’s. The other six players hailed form Buck’s in Grand Forks, Playmakers, The Old Broadway, the Sportsmen in Englevale, the Original in Minot, and Midway lanes of Mandan.
Mike Butts (pictured left) from the Original Bar in Minot could not overcome his short stack on the final table and was eliminated in 9th place. Clayton Dilly from Hagge’s played a strong tournament and finished in 8th place. John Waliser of Sportsmen’s in Englevale who had a great run of cards earlier (he had A’s 4 times and KK twice and was able to get them all in and have the hands hold up) in the tournament wasn’t able to find any at the final table. He finished in 7th place. Jim Nelson of Midway lanes in Mandan told that he wasn’t able to catch a cold let alone any cards on the final two tables. Jim was able to carry his once dominant chip lead to a 6th place finish and a DPL hat. Jason Tuel, from Hagge’s, who had been one of the early hip leaders was actually down to his last 2,000 in chips during the final two tables, a couple of quick double ups and Jason was on the Final table. Jason’s 5th place finish earned him a DPL sweatshirt. Mitch Donley from Hagge’s was actually the chip leader going into the final table with at least a third of the chips in play. Mitch played an outstanding tournament and turned in a very respectable 4th place finished and earned himself a WPT 500pc Bellagio premium poker chip set.
The final three consisted of Michael Krein (Playmakers), Christian Kjelland (pictured below right) (Old Broadway), and Chris Thompson (pictured below left) (Buck’s-GF). The table talk was getting amusing as there was a lot of preflop action and position play for the final three. “You show me yours and I will show you mine”, was the predominate theme as both Chris and Christian went back and forth with preflop raises and all-in’s. Eventually Chris would succumb to Michael who slowly played very steady during the final table. Chris’s 3rd place finish earned him a but in to the next Dakota Poker Tour event. ($200 value)
Heads-up looked to belong to Christian in the early going as he had a 4:1 chip lead. Over the course of the next half hour Michael was able to overcome the commanding chip lead with some key double ups and preflop re-raises. With the Chip lead now reversed Michael and Christian were able to get them all in the middle with Michael holding A10 offsuit and Christian hold QJ off suit the board fell in a rainbow of suits and neither player spiked. Ace high held on to win the WPT North Dakota State Championship for Michael Krein (pictured top of page) of Playmakers. Christian with his 2nd place finish earned himself a buy-in to the next Dakota Poker Tour event
I would like to thank all the players for supporting and participating in the league and I wish you the best of luck at the tables.
Special thanks also goes out to Jesse Zimmerman and all the volunteer dealers who helped make this event possible.