Whitefish to Host High-Stakes Poker Tourney

By Beacon Staff

As far as John Boyle knows – and he knows poker – Whitefish is gearing up for what could be the biggest poker tournament in Montana history.

Boyle is the head organizer for the Todd Brunson Montana Challenge Poker Tournament, coming up on May 14-16 at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake. The no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament also includes a pre-registration cocktail party on May 13.

The payout for the main event on May 16 could be as high as $150,000, depending on how many players John Boyle recruits between now and the start of the tourney. Boyle has been driving across the state, Canada and other nearby states promoting the event. There are promotional posters hanging from Deadwood, S.D., to Washington. Anybody is welcome to play.

The tournament’s namesake, professional player Todd Brunson, son of poker legend Doyle Brunson, will be on hand to participate in the games. Boyle said more professionals might show up to play as well. Organizers are bringing in their own tables and necessary equipment.

Boyle, who has organized other large poker events in the valley, said Thursday and Friday will have full schedules, with a series of mini-satellite games during the day and larger satellite games at night. Thursday’s buy-ins will cost $40 for the mini-satellites and $95 for the satellites. Friday’s buy-ins will cost $65 for mini-satellites and $200 for satellites.

The winners of the mini-satellites automatically advance to Saturday’s main event while the number of players to advance from the satellite games will depend on how many people are entered. For people who want to buy in to the main event, the cost is $500. They are allowed to buy in once more at $500 within the first two hours.

The mini-satellites on Thursday and Friday start at 2 p.m., and the satellites begin at 7 p.m. The main event will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Boyle said the tournament could draw upward of 200 people.

Boyle started organizing the event years ago, weaving his way through the necessary permits, zoning procedures and licensing paperwork. His goal is to hold a tournament every spring and fall from here on out. Not only is there a strong contingent of poker players in the valley, Boyle said Whitefish is a nice place for professionals to come have fun and relax while taking a break from the pro circuit.

At the cocktail party on Wednesday night, people will have a chance to register for the tournament and mingle with other players, including the professionals. There will be live music as well. Boyle is also accepting early registrations and can be reached at (406) 250-1306.

“If everybody shows up, this should be the largest tournament that’s taken place in Montana,” Boyle said.