Poker Million
By staff

Former World Snooker Champion Steve Davis, who has been lampooned for years for being straight-laced, has stunned the world of poker by defeating some of its best professionals in his first ever appearance as a poker professional in the Poker Million which airs on Sky Sports 1 this Friday night at 10pm.

In his first appearance in a professional tournament Davis faced five leading professionals from world of poker - Mike 'The Man' Magee, Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott, Roy 'The Boy' Brindley, Dave 'The Connector' Cleary and Bruno Fitoussi. Magee alone has won over 200 tournaments in his poker career, Bruno Fitoussi is a former world 'heads up' champion and Dave Devilfish Ulliott is a two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner. In winning the heat Davis immediately won $20,000 and qualified for the $150,000 final of the Poker Million - which will be televised live on Sky Sports on March 14th.

After year's of being known by the sarcastic 'interesting' tag, poker pro's are now using two nicknames for Davis - Steve 'Romford Slim' Davis, and Steve 'The Nugget' Davis, finally enabling him to drop his 'interesting' tag.

Speaking about his win Davis commented: 'I've been practising on for several hours a day over a few weeks and it definitely sharpened my game and gave me lots of confidence, but playing pros face to face in the studio was an amazing feeling - I'm shocked I've got through, but I can't wait for the final.'

Online poker continues to grow in popularity - 25,000 customers have signed up to in six months - and are enjoying playing the likes of Davis and Sam Torrance online without realising it. Players bet against each other with Ladbrokes taking a small rake from the pot.

Davis' heat will be followed by five others - all to be screened on Friday nights on Sky Sports 1. Participants include John Duthie - reigning Poker Million Champion and the first man to win £1 million on television, Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, snooker professional Jimmy White, Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn and some of the world's top poker players. Two places are held by customers of, who have won their place at the table by playing online poker tournaments - Alan 'Mudster' Mudd and Jonny 'Hugo' Akesson.

The winner of each table will move forward to the live final on Sky Sports on Friday 14th March, worth $150,000 to the winner. Viewers will be given the unique opportunity to see the top players' strategies as all cards will be visible via cameras placed underneath glass panels on the tables. Each player will also be wired up to a heart monitor, so the viewers can see how relaxed or nervous the players really are during the crucial hands.

About No Limit Hold'em

In Texas Hold'em Poker each player gets two cards and the winner is the player who via a combination of his two cards and five open or community cards on the table can put together the best five-card poker hand. After the players have been dealt their cards the first round of betting allows the players to bet money on the basis of what hand they judge they will be able to form with the cards later.

Once the first three community cards are dealt the players can then bet again. Then the fourth community card is dealt, followed by another round of betting, the fifth and final community card and the last opportunity to bet. The players remaining in the hand then reveal their cards.

Poker Million is a joint-venture between Ladbrokes and Matchroom Sport. Poker is already a growing phenomenon with celebrities such as Robbie Williams, Stephen Fry and Martin Amis all regular players, along with several leading footballers.

Ladbrokes eGaming Managing Director John O'Reilly commented: 'Poker is booming - thousands of people are rediscovering the 'Friday night poker school' online at where they play against poker fans from across the world. Steve Davis, Phil Taylor and Sam Torrance have all played on the site, where over $2 million a day is being staked across the tables.'

Barry Hearn, Executive Chairman of Matchroom Sport said he believed poker had the potential to become a mass TV audience sport: 'In 2000 Poker Million on the Isle of Man achieved a TV Audience on Sky in excess of many leading Premiership football matches. Poker has all the ingredients for great TV - big personalities playing for big money - a massive test of skill and courage.'

Times, dates and players in the 2003 Poker Million The Masters are as follows (all heats on Sky Sports 1):

31/1/03 10pm Steve Davis, David Cleary, Bruno Fitoussi, Roy Brindley, Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott, Mike Magee

7/2/03 10:30pm Sam Torrance, Charidimos H Demetriou, Tony Bloom, Simon Trumper, Padraig Parkinson, Surindar Sunar.

14/2/03 10:30pm Jonny Akesson ( qualifier), Peter Costa, Tim Flanders, Gary Jones, John Duthie, Bruce Atkinson.

21/2/03 11pm Alan 'Mudster' Mudd ( qualifier), Guy Bowles, Teddy Tuil, Ram Vaswani, Alan Abraham, Noel Furlong.

28/2/03 10pm Barry Hearn, Eric Semel, Joe Beevers, Barny Boatman, Dave Colclough, Carlo Citrone

7/3/03 10pm Jimmy White, Ross Boatman, Jac Arama, Paul Samuel,Julian Gardner, Tristan McDonald

Prizes: 1st $150,000, 2nd $70,000, 3rd $50,000, 4th $40,000, 5th $30,000, 6th $20,000

For pictures / further information contact:

Simon Ansell RED 020 7465 7735 / 07802704 048

Ciaran O'Brien RED 020 7465 7711 / 07802 209674

Julian Sheldon BSkyB 0207 705 3872