'Tobans trying to cash in at poker tourney

CHRIS KITCHING -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

Few people get a second legitimate crack at becoming a multimillionaire, so consider Winnipegger Sean Daulat one of the lucky ones.

He'll need even more luck if he wants to make good on an attempt to reach the seven-figure mark at the 2006 World Series of Poker main event.

"It's the dream of every poker player. This is the biggest poker event in the world," Daulat, 37, said recently.

He and at least four other Manitobans are among thousands competing for a first-place prize that could reach $10 million US. The 12-day tournament began Friday at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Daulat is making his second appearance in poker's big show. He finished 79th out of 5,600 players last year, earning $108,000 US.

CONFIDENCE BOOST

He thinks that run may give him the upper hand on some opponents when he takes his seat at the 37th annual tournament.

"It'll be a huge advantage, but you still have to get cards and play well. My confidence level is considerably higher than it was last year," said Daulat, an air traffic controller at Winnipeg International Airport.

"Last year, I was just trying to make some money and I did way beyond what I expected to do," he said.

Fellow card shark and avid online player Clayton Mozdzen is cramming in as many hands as he can to prepare himself for the unknown.

He was in Las Vegas earlier this month, playing against warm bodies in casinos and checking out the Rio.

"The only thing that I can prepare for right now is getting used to live games," said Mozdzen, a 22-year-old Stonewall resident. "My goal is to go there, last the first day and then take it from there."

He qualified by outlasting 81 others in a PokerStars.com satellite tournament. The website is paying for his $10,000 entry, hotel and flight.

WON SATELLITE EVENT

ParadisePoker.com is doing the same for Daulat. Winnipeg qualifier Steven Hopfner is being put up by TigerGaming.com after winning one of their satellites.

The 23-year-old computer specialist finished in the middle of the pack during last year's event.

"It was a great experience but this year will be different, hopefully. I'm going in with a different mindset," Hopfner said. "Last year, I was awestruck and I wasn't focused. This year, I'll be focused and I have to play better cards."

George (Kelly) Dickson and Shane Fumerton are among the other Manitobans competing in Las Vegas. Dickson finished 137th last year, picking up a $55,000 paycheque.


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