Former international footballer Tony Cascarino has scooped more than £50,000 after beating all players at a prestigious poker tournament in Bolton.
The towering striker defeated some of the country’s best poker players before walking away with a grand prize of £52,850 during the four-day event, which was being run as part of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour.
The former Celtic, Chelsea and Republic of Ireland player, who is now a sponsored professional with Littlewoods Poker, went into the tournament on a losing streak and was not among the early favourites to win the event.
But he proved his credentials in a hard-fought final table – beating local legend Ali Mallu with a final hand flush to emerge with his first-ever title on the UK poker tour.
Tony said: “I’ve had successes in the poker world before, but they have tended to come overseas rather than in the UK. To win a tournament on home soil is very special so I’m absolutely thrilled to have come first here.
“I’ve had some tough luck on the poker tour this year and have crashed out of a few competitions, which left me totally gutted. But everything’s come together for this event and it’s great to have my first UK tour win under my belt and to be able to repay Littlewoods Poker for sponsoring me as one of their professional players.
“Throughout the whole event, I never wanted to just make it to the final table or come third or second. I was determined to win the whole thing and, thankfully, I got the right cards at the right time.
“I’ve had a great sports career, but this is right up there with some of the things I achieved on the football pitch. It has made a huge difference in the poker world for me.
“I got asked after I won if this was a ‘back of the net’ moment but it’s much more than that. The standard of competition at these events is so high that, if you win one, it’s like scoring a hat-trick!”
The win means that Tony will travel to his next tournament in Barcelona brimming with confidence and eager to add a European victory to his list of poker achievements.
His success in Bolton also means he has secured a £3000 seat at the GUKPT grand final later this year.
Bruce Martin, Head of Operations with LittlewoodsPoker.com, said: “Everyone in the poker world knows that Tony is a very talented player and he thoroughly deserves this win. He has a great reputation and is well respected among his peers so it’s great that he has got his first victory on the UK Poker tour.
“It’s extremely difficult to triumph at these events because the standard of competition is so high. The best players from across the country come to compete on the tour, so it’s a real achievement to win.
“We’re delighted for Tony and we hope his winning streak continues over the upcoming tournaments he will be competing in for Littlewoods Poker.”