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South Dakota Poker Championship ends with dramatic showdown

23 May 2011

DEADWOOD, S.D. (PRESS RELEASE) -- In a dramatic Sunday-night showdown, Bill Swan of Miles City, Mont., outlasted 134 other poker players and became the first winner of the South Dakota State Poker Championship on May 14.

The Championship began Friday morning at the Silverado-Franklin Historic Hotel & Gaming Complex on Deadwood's Main Street. By 10 p.m. Sunday, the 135-contestant roster had been whittled down to two players: Swan and Richard Morgan of Deadwood in a heads-up showdown.

Swan and Morgan battled it out for a full 40 minutes before Swan claimed the final pot, the championship trophy and the $40,000 top prize. Morgan went home with $27,000. In all, $135,000 was divided among the top finishers.

"It was a good tournament, and the Silverado is a great place to play," said Swan, who ranches south of Miles City and regularly plays tournament poker. The South Dakota State Championship was his biggest win ever, and hopes to return to Deadwood for the 2012 championship.

The championship, South Dakota's first, was a big success, said Silverado Managing Partner Tom Rensch. Players came from a dozen states, including California, Washington and Illinois traveled to Deadwood for the event. The roster included 86 South Dakota poker players, including two players who had placed in the satellite tournament at Prairie Winds Casino on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

"I'm really happy with the way it went, and I'm looking forward to next year," Rensch said. "I really wanted to be sure that if South Dakota has a state poker championship, that it should be in Deadwood, where poker became legendary."

In 1876, Deadwood was a booming mining camp that drew all kinds of fortune-seekers, including the famed former lawman Wild Bill Hickok. It was during a poker game on Deadwood's Main Street that Bill, holding the aces and eights, was gunned at the poker table. To this day, aces and eights are called the Dead Man's Hand.

For the South Dakota State Poker Championship, the buy-in was $1,100, and $1,000 of that went back to players in prize money.

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