The Heartland Poker Tour brought some 300 Midwesterners to the Red Rock Resort for its first event of the year a week ago, and an unknown 42-year-old player from Las Vegas captured the top prize.
Kimbo Ung won $125,901 in the tour’s main event. Originally from Cambodia, Ung tried to make a living as a poker player in Las Vegas for several years.
"I never considered myself a pro," he said, "but I supported myself through poker."
Ung had taken in a movie at Red Rock with his wife when they saw a sign about the Heartland Poker tour. He invested $250 in a qualifying event, and won his way into the Jan. 16 Main Event where he topped a field of 443 players.
"I didn’t want to embarrass myself by becoming the first player to cry at the final table," Ung said after his victory.
Walter Wright of Las Vegas finished second and won $62,950.
The Heartland Poker Tour — sort of a minor league version of the World Series of Poker — is in its sixth season of televised poker. Taped episodes air on more than 100 television stations primarily in the Midwest and covering 75 million households.