Lady luck was shining on a Hartlepool poker player when he won a trip to the gambling capital of the world.
Mel Barkworth is all set to jet out to the bright lights of Las Vegas later this month to compete for the UK Pub Poker Champion crown.
The 63-year-old grandfather of nine, said after playing poker for about ten years to be able to play in Vegas is like a dream come true.
Mel, a retired pet shop owner, plays regularly in a league at Mecca Bingo in the town and was thrilled when he qualified to take part in the annual VEGAS100 tournament, which could see him win a slice of the £25,000 prize pool.
The dad-of-two, said: “It was amazing to win. I won the league and then I went through to another round at Newcastle and I won there.
“To get an all expenses paid trip to Vagas is fantastic.”
Mel, who will be taking his wife, Gill, 57, with him on the trip of a lifetime, said even if he doesn’t win they will have a great time.
He said: “We only got married in November, so this will be a honeymoon for us.
“Jill is fine about me playing poker, but she doesn’t really know much about the game.”
The Headland couple will be jetting out later this month for the trip and Mel is one of around 100 British poker players who will be competing for the cash.
Now in its twelfth year, VEGAS100, organised by Redtooth Poker, is the UK’s largest live pub poker league with more than 1,000 venues and over 200,000 players registered with the league since it was launched.
Qualifiers for the event secure their place at various live events around the UK, with Redtooth Poker giving away over £270,000 in prizes to pub poker players throughout the year.
Included in the winner’s prize will be a £5,000 sponsorship deal for the year ahead and one player will also receive the title of Player of Year.
This year the VEGAS100 players and guests will also have the opportunity to take part in an additional tournament with over $6,000 worth of prizes which includes a return trip to Las Vegas and a seat into a World Series of Poker event in 2019.
Martin Green, managing director of Redtooth Poker, said: “These are the best pub poker players in the UK so they fully deserve this once in a lifetime trip to America.
“This year we are celebrating 12 years of the Redtooth Poker league, we continue to grow from strength to strength and have become the event for poker players to take part in.
“You never know, we may unearth the next UK poker star to hit the professional stage in the future.”