The biggest jackpot ever

5/07/09 (Thu)
“I don’t know what I did to deserve this,” gushed Tracy Ulland as she clucked over her three-week-old twins, Emily and Eric. “It’s just so wonderful and overwhelming … we never thought we’d have this.” Tracy and her husband, John, rural Velva, are thrilled about the birth of their children, born April 11 in Minot with the help of a gestational surrogate mother. But it wasn’t so long ago that Tracy was asking “what did I do to deserve this?” from a totally different perspective. In 2004, Tracy was diagnosed with uterine cancer and successfully treated, or so she thought. But the cancer returned, and in May of 2005, she had a hysterectomy. “It saved my life, but it took away all my hopes of having kids,” she said. “Bubba (John) and I had already been trying to start a family, and the cancer ended that.” Again, or so she thought. Fast forward to 2007 and the couple’s favorite past time, poker. Or more specifically, Texas Hold’em. Tracy and John have played the game for several years, and have acquired reputations as formidable opponents. Tracy has worked several stints dealing the game, both locally and at the state level, and has won her fair share of tournaments. John, a self-professed “gut instinct” player, has excelled at the game, winning not only local and state titles, but earning a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the World Poker Tour. That trip, and the competition leading up to it, impacted the couple’s life more than any jackpot ever could have.