Photo by Jay Huff
After playing well at local, regional and state poker tournaments for months, two North Platte men have qualified for the Free Poker Network National Championship, plus a seat in the world-famous World Series of Poker. When Chuck Roberts, 38 and Jeff Schulz, 33, of North Platte sit at the poker table in the Grand Ballroom at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas on June 29, they will each start with $10,000 in complimentary chips.
Roberts and Schulz finished the season in the top 20% of regional tournaments and also in the top 20% of the state finals, qualifying for nationals.
The state finals were held Saturday at the Daily Double Tavern in Denton, where 70 players competed. Denton is a village of about 190 people that is part of the Lincoln metropolitan area.
Roberts has been playing tournament poker since 2007 and says it’s “a game you love to hate.”
Roberts began playing in a poker league at the Touchdown Club. Poker became something to do on off days from the railroad. He said the people who play there are a great bunch of folks.
The competitiveness and thrill of winning keeps him playing. The trip to Vegas is something he’s looking forward to. He feels it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Schulz said he began learning the game at age 7 from his mother, who was a Texas Holdem‘ dealer at the Prairie Knights Casino in Ft. Yates, N.D.
Schultz played poker with buddies and others for years and started playing tournament poker in 1999. This is his third trip to the nationals in Vegas.
He said he seems to qualify about every three years. He went in 2007 and 2010.
From 125-130 qualifiers from state tournaments around the country get invited to the national championship. About 100 typically make the trip to Vegas, where they play for two days, all the way down to one player who becomes the new national champion.
The champ will be the face of the Free Poker Network for the next six months. He or she also gets the best seat to play the next day in the start of the world-famous World Series of Poker, where more than 1,000 players compete for millions of dollars.
And, the top 100 players at the national tournament are not finished. They also qualify to buy-in to the World Series of Poker, where they have a chance to become the top player in the world.