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Cribbage tournament brings players from all over the country to Billings



Billings, Montana – Nearly 70 cribbage players from across the country have been in Billings for four days for a first-of-its-kind event.

The competition took place at the Hampton Inn on Ember Lane and featured cribbage players of different skill levels, including Erik Locke, who is presently rated fifth in the world. Cribbage may be simply a game to some, but it changed Locke’s life.

“I was hanging out with the wrong crowd back when I was younger and I needed something to do with my life to get my head on the right path,” Locke said. “It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Locke has been playing professionally since he was 17 and is grateful for the opportunities the game has provided him.

“Cribbage has taken me to a lot of places that I probably would’ve never been in my life,” Locke said.

Billings is currently on the list of destinations for the Portland, Oregon, resident. He won the final on Tuesday afternoon, defeating Butte local Liz Milodragovich.

“Took a week and a half of vacation to come out and I’d never been to Billings before so, why not?” said Locke, who is in his 40s.

However, it was not only professionals that sat at the table. Kathijo Neff traveled from Butte to compete in the tournament as well. She still hadn’t had enough of cribbage after four days of it.

“I wanted to play more,” Neff said. “I could play cribbage all day long.”

According to Neff, meeting new individuals is part of the fun of these encounters.

“You get to meet so many wonderful individuals and you get to have a great time listening to their stories,” Neff said.

According to tournament co-director Greg Dibble, the inaugural event was a huge success and was intentionally organized to take place just days before another tournament in Deadwood, South Dakota.

“It’s the first tournament that we’ve held of this nature, so we didn’t really know what to expect,” Dibble said. “We wanted to plan it around the dates in South Dakota and we are really pleased with how it turned out. People have come from coast to coast to be here.”

Dibble said he enjoys competitions for the camaraderie as well.

“You kind of characterize yourself as a cribbage family, you know?” Dibble said. “You get quite familiar with people, and it’s good to see them again.”

Locke will be among many who hit the road and drive to South Dakota, eager for any opportunity to play the game he adores.

“It’s good to come and support these tournaments and help the cribbage going on for the younger generation,” Locke said.


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