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Mike Schneider is Cheered on by 15 Companions from His Home State
Veteran Kenna James Takes Second and Scott Buller, First to Repeat at a Final Table, is Third

CARIBBEAN SEA (March 17, 2006)— Proving once again that the youth movement is on the march in poker, a quiet 22-year-old college student from Minneapolis became the youngest winner in the five-year history of the prestigious Million, claiming the $1 million first prize amidst his wildly cheering group of 15 supporters from his home state—all poker players themselves.

For a moment in the big amphitheatre aboard the ms. Westerdam, it seemed more like a frat party than a poker tournament, but that exuberant tone belied the intensity of the event which saw Schneider, in mirrored sunglasses and backward baseball cap, slowly wear down top pro Kenna James and the first player ever to make two Million final tables, Scott Buller. Buller has been on every Million cruise and placed in the money with 5th, 15th and 20th finishes before making this final table.

Buller, of Lincoln, Nebraska, mustered out third with a very nice $500,000 check as a consolation, bringing his total Million winnings to nearly $600,000. James, of Las Vegas, claimed the largest paycheck of his career with a second place $700,000. His biggest previous payday was $588,210 for a second place finish in last year’s Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

Two online players Drew Chitiea, a corporate pilot and flight instructor from Centennial, CO, and Richard Joel, a retired businessman, from Atlanta, joined in the fun, happy to take home $300,000 and $225,000 respectively. The sixth competitor was Devon Miller, an up-and-coming 21-year-old pro from Los Angeles with a reputation for being a Limit Hold’em specialist. He was the first to exit and collected $175,000.

The world’s largest Limit Hold’em tournament, the Million V, began last Monday with a field of 528 and a $5,280,000 prize pool. With Kenna James singing at the table, joking with the crowd and his fellow players and Schneider’s loud posse, the event indeed was true to its reputation as the most fun event in high stakes poker.

Schneider could only say that he was “shellshockedâ€? at his victory, but he certainly didn’t show his anxiety under the spotlight. Asked what he was thinking behind his stoic poker face, he admitted: “oh God, oh God, oh God!â€?

Currently at the University of Minnesota studying journalism, he is planning to graduate in fall 2006, and has paid for his education through his poker winnings. The native Minnesotan began playing in home games four years ago, and graduated to his hometown card room, Canterbury Park at 18, the legal age in Minnesota. In 2003, he began playing online with The Million is only his second high stakes tournament. Wisely, he hopes to put some of his winnings into investments, after building up his bankroll a bit and tucking some away for day-to-day expenses.

Schneider wasn’t sure he would make it past the first three hands on the second day of the tournament, when he ended day one with a small stack of 5,500 chips. “I had two dreams that night,â€? he said, “one that I would bust out and the other one that I would build back up to 150,000 chips. That second dream was pretty close. But I sure didn’t have a dream that foresaw a million dollars!â€?

Buller, who has been aboard all five Million cruises noted that the event has changed significantly since its inauguration. “The young players have changed the whole picture. My first year there were maybe 20 guys under 30. Now we have a boatload of them and at 49, I’m considered an old guy. But there is no doubt they deserve to be here. It’s no accident that Michael Schneider is holding that $1 million check. He played tough and he deserved it.â€?


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