Poker: Victor takes home silver

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The Independent Culture
RUSS Hamilton, a 44-year-old professional poker player, took home the dollars 1m first prize, plus his weight in silver - 330lb - when he won the World Poker Championship in Las Vegas last week.

His victory at Binion's Horseshoe casino was the climax of four days of betting and bluffing, during which all his rivals were eliminated, leaving him undisputed master of a field of 268.

A cheer went up in the card room when he won a record pot of dollars 1,980,000 to put his remaining challenger out of contention. He slow-played a pair of queens in the hole, bet them on the turn, and lured Hugh Vincent, a 64-year-old retired accountant, to commit his chips on a double draw to an inside straight. Hamilton hit a full house.

The winner's first acquaintance with poker, so he claims, was at the age of four, when he stole pennies from his father to play with his friends. 'They took me and I had to learn quick,' he explained.

His immediate plans are to take a holiday before getting back into action. Asked if he might now try his talent for cards by playing in London, Mr Hamilton replied: 'I don't want anything to do with you people. You're too tough for me over there.' Presumably he was joking, given the disappointing performance of the British entries. The prestige of winning the championship was far more important than the money, he said.

The presence of players in their sixties, let alone the father of the event, Johnny Moss, now in his mid-eighties, combined with all the young bloods and cowboys in their twenties, shows that poker can attract a wide variety of players. Jack Binion, owner of the Horseshoe, is promising that the event will be even bigger and better next year.

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