|Snooker player Matthew Stevens has scooped the top prize in a million dollar poker tournament, after defeating tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Darts world champion Phil Taylor in the 888.com Pacific Poker Open last night, Sunday 12th December.|
Stevens, who only took up poker 18 months ago, beat poker professionals and online qualifiers in the final last night, before beating the two other sportsmen in a tense finish. Stevens walks away with $500,000 of the total $1.08 million prize pool - the biggest ever for a UK poker tournament.
After collecting his cheque, Stevens, world Snooker number six, said, 'This is absolutely unbelievable and I am in a complete daze. It's a dream to win a poker tournament having only been playing for a short time. I was quietly confident going into the final but if at the start of the tournament you'd have told me I'd be winning it, I'd have thought you were barmy.'
After successfully beating off competition from celebrity participants such as Darren Campbell, Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Neil 'Razor' Ruddock,as well as poker professionals including The Devilfish, David Benyamin and Gary Jones, the three sports celebrities secured places in the final.
Despite losing to Stevens, both Phil Taylor and Yevgeny Kafelnikov were pragmatic in defeat. ' I am delighted with how I did', Taylor said, ' I couldn't have been beaten by a better person than Matthew. This tournament has been one of the highlights of my life.'
Kafelnikov, playing in his first poker tournament since announcing his retirement from the tennis, commented, 'I think that being an ex-sportsman was an advantage. We have all dealt with difficult situations professionally and to play with such wonderful guys was an unforgettable experience. '
Commenting on the win, Matt Robinson, Marketing Manager of 888.com said, 'For Matthew to triumph over such a strong field shows that poker requires a combination of bluff, skill and the ability to handle pressure. The tournament was a huge success and we were delighted to see three sportsmen reach the final.'