The Canadian poker scene is about to get a serious shot in the arm.
In March, the newly created Canadian Open Poker Championship is coming to Calgary and bringing with it some serious cash.
Former poker player Kelly Kellner is heading up the event, along with the Calgary Stampede Casino. It'll be a heads-up, No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em format with $250,000 going to the winner and $125,000 for the runner-up -- the largest guaranteed payouts ever offered for a Canadian poker tourney.
Kellner said he wanted to do something different from the current poker tournaments being played and shown on TV in North America.
"It's two players at the table. One guy goes on, one comes out," said Kellner, the CEO of HeadsUp Entertainment.
"I love playing heads-up -- most poker players do. It is the ultimate challenge of your ability. When you're there and it's just you and I, if I can read you and I can bluff you, that makes me a great poker player.
"It gives players an opportunity to shine and it's something that hasn't been done in Canada."
A total of 128 players will compete in the event, which runs from March 8-12 at the Stampede Casino.
The entry fee is $5,000 or players can get in through qualifying events or satellite tournaments, where entry fees start at $60.
Kellner said 40% of the spots are taken, so there's a keen interest already from Canadians and international players.
"We have interest from around the world and some celebrities that are looking to come and play as well," he said.
In addition, Kellner is looking for a network to broadcast the tournament.
Players looking to register can go to www.canadianchampionshippoker.com