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Billiards tournament draws many to Dickinson

Music blared and though it was a tournament, it was clear most pool players were at the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge in Dickinson to have fun Saturday.

Chad Lennick of Dickinson was one of 341 players at the National Tournament Association State Singles Pool Championships. The event concludes today.

Lennick enjoys the competition, but said it's all about having a good time.

"It's definitely a game you have to enjoy," Lennick said.

Every pool player has different techniques to gain focus before shooting, Lennick said, adding he's no different.

Normally a cigarette pressed between his lips means he's ready to go, but in a nonsmoking atmosphere, such as this weekend's tournament, a toothpick takes its place.

He has been playing pool for about 25 years and has placed as high as third in a team competition and 17th at an individual competition.

"The people that you shoot with, it's good camaraderie," he said. "It's an excuse to get out of the house."

Terri Thiel, executive director of the Dickinson Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said the event is expected to bring more than $300,000 to Dickinson.

"We really like having them in town, just because of the fact that we have so many from out of town and they've always been huge events for us," Thiel said. "In the winter we don't end up with the influx with the leisure travelers."

She estimated 85 percent of the participants of the tournament are from out of town.

"This tournament fills most of the hotels in town," said Melissa Johnson, host operator of the tournament.

Lennick said those interested in competing in pool tournaments need to practice.

"You have to understand the game," Lennick said. "It's not like shooting a basketball because every basketball hoop is the same size ... where pool, every shot is different."

Since more men typically enter the tournament than women, their award is more than twice as much money in the tournament, Johnson said. First place prize for the men's division is $825 and for women, it's $400, she said.