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Amateur sharp sees off US opposition

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Lee BiddulphA British chef has trousered $1m after seeing off eight US competitors in the final of Paradise Poker's "Million Dollar Freeroll".

Chef Lee Biddulph, 28, has only been playing Texas Hold-Em since 2002, but was able to hold his nerve during the face-to-face showdown in Costa Rica following online heats which whittled 3,900 hopefuls down to just nine. His previous best win was $50.

Despite coming to the deciding, real-world table with $1.58m in chips - compared to a meaty $2.72m for main rival Mike Darweesh, an Arizona software engineer - Biddulph ultimately trumped Darweesh with a triumphant flush, beating his opponent's matching flush by virtue of a higher card among his five. He admitted that "even his teeth" were shaking as he played the last hand.

Paradise Poker's marketing director, Bruce Stubbs, said: "Lee played brilliantly, he started the final table with less chips... and came out a winner."

Regarding what he will do with the cash, Biddulph told Paradise Poker's website: "i try not to think about what i would do with the money just give up work and set myself up for the future. oh and buy a kawasaki ninja 600cc for my girlfriend and a cbr 600rr for my brother like mine."

While Biddulph can now indulge his taste for fast motorcycles, the defeated octet have little to compain about - all nine finalists got an all-expenses-paid weekend for two in a Costa Rican five-star resort plus $10k just for making it to the grand finale. ®

Bootnote

For those of you au fait with poker, here's how the press release describes the climactic moments of the clash:

On the second to last hand minutes before, both players checked right through to the river, facing a board with four diamonds. Darweesh led with a bet of US$200,000. Biddulph thought for a moment before reraising it up to US$600,000. Darweesh called, and flipped over a 9 of diamonds. Biddulph turned over the 10 of diamonds and took the pot with a higher flush.

Darweesh rose to his feet as the final hand caused an eruption from the previously silent crowd. Both players were all in before the flop, and as they revealed their hole cards the crowd saw that Darweesh had queen/nine and Biddulph had the dominant ace/ten. The first card from the deck was an ace, which sent the crowd into a further frenzy. The remaining cards on the flop were a 6 and 3. The turn card produced an 8 - sending Biddulph into shock and sending tears streaming down his girlfriend Debbie's face. The river showed another 6, and it was over.

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