London player Ben Roberts was the unluckiest player in the World Poker Championship, despite taking home $150,000 for his sixth-place finish. The event, as usual, was played at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas last week, with a record field of 350 - which at $10,000 per entry produced a prize fund of $3.5m.

With aces in the hole, Roberts contrived to get all his chips in the pot against Scotty Nguyen, who had only ace-jack of diamonds, and Swedish player Jan Lundberg on a pair of 10s. Roberts was a huge favourite to win a three-way pot worth $350,000. But on the last card, Nguyen caught a deuce of diamonds to make a flush.

He went on to win the tournament and become the new world champion (last year's winner and pre-tournament favourite Stu Ungar was unfortunately unable to play owing to his perennial health problem).

Iranian-born Roberts displayed admirable British sang-froid in congratulating the lucky winner, who was whooping his triumph all over the room. "These things happen, it's all part of the game," Roberts observed mildly, adding: "I enjoyed the experience of playing in the tournament very much."

35-year-old Nguyen (his name, happily, is pronounced "win"), a former refugee from South Vietnam, clinched the title in a hard fought duel against Kevin McBride, a management consultant from Florida, who only got involved in tournament play a few months ago.

In what turned out to be the final hand, Nguyen found &J-29 in the hole. The flop came down 28-&9-!9, giving him three nines. McBride had !Q-!10 giving him an inside straight draw with a jack.

The fourth card was !8 giving Nguyen a full house. and McBride two pairs with a queen kicker. Nguyen made a light bet, to lure his opponent on, in the hope he might catch a flush or a straight on the river.

Last card was 48, making a full house on the board. Nguyen now put his opponent all in. McBride thought he was simply trying to steal the pot. In any case he was too far committed to back down and called for the rest of his chips. The pot was worth $1.2m.

Nguyen: &J 29

McBride: !Q-!10

Flop: 28-&9-!9 !8 48

"Remember this hand, baby!" exulted the winner, waving a bottle of beer in one hand and a huge stack of dollar bills in the other. Wasn't he just a bit worried about the possibility of four 8s out against him? "I didn't even think about it, baby!" Consolation for the runner-up was a prize of $687,500.

I saw the new champion the next afternoon, mooching about in a green T-shirt, looking for a game. He didn't look any different from the other guys.