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Grand Forks resident finishes 26th at World Series of Poker and wins $350k

Jesse Haabak

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A 23-year-old Grand Forks resident finished 26th in the World Series of Poker's main event Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Jesse Haabak, who grew up in McVille, N.D., and graduated from Dakota Prairie High School, earned $352,832 for his placing in the field of 6,494 players.

He was among the 27 players who started the day, filling three tables. But he lasted less than an hour, largely because he had one of the smaller chip stacks.

Forced to make a move, he bet all of his remaining chips with a suited queen-nine before the flop. Behind him, Warren Zackey had an easy call with an ace of clubs and a king of diamonds. An ace and king came on the three-card flop, giving Zackey the advantage. But Haabak still could have won the hand with a jack or with two more eights or two more queens. However, a five and a three ended his eight-day run in the main event.

Finishers in the 19th through 26th spots earned the same amount. However, if he had reached the top 18, he would have been guaranteed at least $500,557. The winner lands $8.5 million.

Haabak is taking summer classes in his engineering studies at the University of North Dakota. However, he said in an e-mail this morning, "I'm not sure how the professor will rule on the two tests I have been forced to miss since leaving for Vegas."

He has been in Las Vegas for three weeks. He won his way into the main event of Texas Hold 'Em by earning the $10,000 entry fee in an online tournament. Earlier during the World Series, he won $28,000 in a preliminary tournament that had a $1,500 entry fee. He finished 16th among 2,781 entrants in that event.

"We thought that was a lot of money," said his mother, Gayle Haabak.