« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

By Ryan Bakken, Published July 15 2009

North Dakotan guaranteed at least $250,000 at World Series of Poker

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A 23-year-old Grand Forks resident is guaranteed to earn more than a quarter-million dollars in the World Series of Poker’s main event in Las Vegas.

Jesse Haabak, who grew up in McVille, N.D., and graduated from Dakota Prairie High School, was among the 29 survivors from the original field of 6,494 players on Tuesday night. Sitting in 21st place with 4.4 million chips, he will earn $253,941 even if he is the first player eliminated when play resumed after a dinner break.

Play was in progress at press time.

If he makes it into the top 27, he’ll make $352,832. The winner lands $8.5 million.

Haabak is taking a break from his engineering studies at the University of North Dakota to play online poker, said his mother, Gayle Haabak of McVille.

He won his way into the main event of Texas Hold ’Em by earning the $10,000 entry fee in an online game.

“He promised me he’ll go back to school,” Gayle said. “It wasn’t my dream that my son would become a professional poker player, but that’s what he wants to do. I don’t know when we break the news to his grandmas and grandpas.”

“But now look at this,” she said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Gayle and husband, Rick, have been glued to the computer in McVille for several days, following the hand-by-hand updates.

Tuesday was the seventh day of the main event, which offers the biggest cash prize of all the tournaments during the World Series.

“We’re all so nervous, we can’t concentrate on anything,” Gayle said. “We don’t even call him because we don’t want to break his concentration.”

Haabak earlier won $28,000 in a World Series preliminary tournament that had a $1,500 entry. He finished 16th among 2,781 entrants in that tournament three weeks ago.

“We thought that was a lot of money,” his mother said.

She said he started playing Texas Hold ’Em with his buddies late in high school.

Gayle described his Grand Forks rental home as an “old house in the ghetto.” But, she added, it likely won’t be his home for long.


The Grand Forks Herald and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.