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The Todd Brunson Montana Poker Challenge II

Coming this Labor Day weekend

by Todd Brunson |  Published: Apr 01, 2010


I got back from my European trip half-dead, but there’s no rest for the wicked (not that I am particularly wicked), as I had to teach at a WPT Boot Camp the next day. I showed up for day one completely unprepared and still jet-lagged from the plane trip across the Atlantic. Not only did I have to teach, I demanded so much money that I had no co-instructors to help carry the load. I had to do the entire course myself with no help, except from the WPT Boot Camp staff instructors.

Luckily, these guys are really good at what they do. Nick Brancato and Rick Fuller are real pros. With their help, the camp went off without a hitch. It went so well that I can’t wait to do the next one. In fact, the WPT Boot Camp is going to hold a camp in conjunction with my next tournament over Labor Day weekend, so don’t miss it.
Flathead Lake
I was going to have two days to rest up before I had to pack up and make the drive to Montana for my tournament, when I heard that a blizzard was on the way. If I didn’t get through the mountain passes in the next 14 hours, there was a good chance that they would be snowed in and I wouldn’t be able to get through. It was tough, but with Anjela’s help (actually, she did everything), we packed up the dogs, cards, chips, and everything else that we needed for the tournament, and hit the road.

We made it before the blizzard hit, but unfortunately, many others didn’t. I think we lost about half of our players due to this ill-timed act of God. But, the half who made it were really dedicated fans. Imagine, many of these guys and gals drove 10 or more hours and literally risked their lives due to the storm to make the event! Now that’s dedication.

For those who don’t know, the Todd Brunson Montana Poker Challenge is a five-day tournament. The main event is held on the last day (although we may have to stretch it out to two days this year), and the first four days are devoted to a series of satellites into the main event, and to cash games. It’s also as much a party as it is a poker tournament.

In Montana, the economic situation of the players stretches from the super rich (we’ve had several billionaires play) down to the good old working Joe (who in Montana is often unable to work for half of the year). Due to this, I wanted to make the buy-in large enough to make it interesting, but not so big as to exclude many of the locals. First of all, we run satellites for as little as $20, and second, I’ve broken the buy-in into three parts. It is $999, but you can enter in one-third increments. So, if you can come up with only $333, you’re in, but at an obvious chip disadvantage to those willing to pay the whole $999.

This actually makes the first four days a lot of fun. You see, if you win a satellite, you are in the main event, but you can keep playing to try to get all three of the parts that make up the whole buy-in. And even if you win more than the three parts for the whole buy-in, they are transferable. We run one- and two-table satellites, as well as daily supersatellites.

To make sure that the next event doesn’t run into the same blizzard problem, it will be held during the Labor Day weekend (and the two days leading into it). The weather is at its best in Montana around early September, and I’ll be able to have my boats up at the lodge. I have a 21.5-foot Cobalt speedboat, as well as a 15-foot party barge (my dad has one just like it on the lake, also … well, just like it without the 10K stereo system).

I haven’t figured it out yet, but a boat tour for the bubble boy of each satellite should be a lot of fun. Some players may even throw the seat just to have the chance to risk death on my Cobalt! The hull is made of Kevlar, though, so it shouldn’t be that dangerous.

Besides me, the pros in attendance for my last event were Hoyt Corkins, Pam (Mugh Head) Brunson, and The Godfather of Poker himself, my pop, Doyle Brunson. Both Layne Flack and Gavin Smith signed up at least six months in advance and then flaked out at the last minute, so they are 86’d for life — which, considering both of their lifestyles, shouldn’t be long.

While the pros for the Labor Day weekend tournament haven’t been announced yet, many have expressed interest in attending. So, don’t be surprised to see Scotty (Baby) Nguyen, Hoyt Corkins, Chau Giang, Max Pescatori, Marco Traniello, or Jennifer Harman. I hope to see you there, as well. Go to my website for more info,, or call the lodge at 1-800-433-6516. For info on the WPT Boot Camp, go to their website, named, strangely enough, Spade Suit

Todd Brunson has been a professional poker player for more than 20 years. While primarily a cash-game player, he still has managed to win 18 major tournaments, for more than $3.5 million. He has won one bracelet and cashed 25 times at the World Series of Poker. You can play with Todd online at or live at his tournament, The Todd Brunson Montana Poker Challenge, in Bigfork, Montana. Check his website,, for details.