On Sat. Feb. 27, The City of Richardton turned up the heat with their 16th annual Fire In The Hall poker tournament, taking place at the American Legion on North Ave in Richardton.
Participants took their places at the felt to await the tournament’s official opening.
One such participant was Dickinson resident Brad Fong, who while driving heard about the tournament and decided to stop in.
“I was driving around yesterday and listened to the advertisement on the Dickinson radio station...an advertising for the fundraiser at the Richardton Fire Department. I didn’t have anything on my agenda today, so I decided to...come on over and donate $100 and have a little fun,” Fong said.
Fong said despite being a veteran poker player, he remains a rookie in regards to Texas Hold ‘Em, which is what was played at the tournament. Fong also said he hopes to participate in next year’s tournament.
The tournament, Richardton firefighter and co-organizer, John Gaab said, began 16 years ago when Texas Hold ‘Em was seeing a national boom in popularity and has been a mainstay ever since.
“We started it 16 years ago when Texas Hold ‘Em was really big, it just kept going on. It’s a good fundraiser for us,” he said.
By “us,” Gaab is referring to the Richardton Fire Department, particularly, the Richardton Firemen’s Auxiliary — which the program benefits.
Gaab also said he is the Gaming Manager for Richardton and as gaming manager, Gaab is in charge of making sure any gambling is up to code.
“I’m in charge of all the gaming around here, like pull tabs, we have pull tabs in the bar...I take care of all the money...get the license for the site authorization, state gaming license, everything,” Gaab said.
At 11 a.m., registration began, participants donated some money, sat down and waited for the tournament to officially start. The call to shuffle up and deal came with the first cards being dealt at noon.
In previous years, Gabb said, the tournament has lasted until 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
Refreshments were available for purchase, including various drinks from the bar. Foods such as hot dogs, various salads and roast beef dinner were featured at the event with proceeds going to the auxiliary.
After 75 percent of the money brought in had been awarded to winners, the remaining 25% were donated to the fire department to be used for funding Richardton’s various firefighting needs.
Winning is what four time participant Phil Reisenauer said he loves most about poker. Unlike Fong, Riesenauer said he has played poker for around 25 years and took sixth place in the previous tournament — a ceiling he and many others were vying to break this year.
Last year’s poker tournament, according to Gaab, had to be cancelled due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, in addition to state mandates — which negatively impacted the fundraising ability of the fire department and auxiliary.
By all accounts the tournament was a success for the department and generated much needed funds. For more information about the fundraiser, to see upcoming events, or to donate to the Richardton Fire Department visit cityofrichardtonnd.com