The poker faces of two amateur card-players from Hucknall have broken out into broad smiles after they won dream trips to Las Vegas.
Grandmother Caroline Quinn and plumber Martin Fordham usually play their poker in weekly sessions at the Green Dragon pub on Watnall Road.
But now they are heading for the bright lights of Vegas, gambling capital of the world, chasing £25,000 of prize money and hoping to be crowned UK pub poker champion.
Caroline, 52, of Jenny Burton Way, and Martin, 55, of Farleys Lane, are among 100 poker players from across the country who have qualified for the final of Vegas100, a tournament organised by Redtooth, the largest poker league in the country.
More than 200,000 players are registered with the league up and down the country at venues such as the Dragon. Amazingly, the pub has now produced ten over the years who have won through to Vegas, while Caroline is the only woman in the UK to have managed it three times.
“I finished 54th in my first year and 27th in my next, so I’m really going for it this time!” the company accountant beamed. “I can’t wait.
“I love playing poker. The league is like a community where you get to know everyone. I travel to tournaments here, there and everywhere and, because I am single, it has really given me a life.”
The duo fly out to the States on Thursday, May 24 for the week-long, paid-for adventure, which includes an extra tournament to win a seat at a World Series of Poker event.
Martin said: “I am delighted, especially as there is real money up for grabs. I have won tournaments before, but if you don’t get the cards, you can’t win. I’d say it’s 75 per cent luck.”
HUCKNALL duo Caroline and Martin have been hailed by the Derbyshire-based tournament organisers Redtooth “two of the best pub poker players in the UK, who fully deserve their once-in-a-lifetime trip to America”. Redtooth boss Martin Green said: “They have done remarkably well to reach this stage.”
The league, now in its 12th year, runs in four quarters through the year at more than 1,000 venues. Players accumulate points, with the highest scorers from each venue going through to regional and national finals for the chance to win the trip to Las Vegas.