Saturday, February 4, 2006

A ROOKIE has bluffed his way into the tournament with £5 MILLION up for grabs

Greenock card shark Craig McFarlane will take his seat for the World Series of Poker — despite never having played on a real table before.

The 28-year-old is hooked on the online poker craze and after beating 800 others he is heading for the world's gambling capital Las Vegas.

Hydraulics engineer Craig, of Brisbane Street, said: "I have only been playing the game for five months and I have never played in a casino before. So I’ll need to get to the casino and get practising my poker face."

He will be playing Texan Hold'em, a spin-off of the original game that has sparked a worldwide craze.

Craig first played the game with friends on a Friday night and started going online.

So far he has gambled with a pot of £300, but now he is raising the stakes.

After entering a competition to win a place in the qualifers, he had a play-off with 800 other hopefuls and his second place finish sent him packing to Vegas.

His $6,000 entry fee is now paid as well as two flights to the super city.

The World Series of Poker starts in August and attracts millions of television viewers worldwide. First-time player Craig is following in the footsteps of icons such as champion player Daniel Negreanu.

But does he have any tricks up his sleeves when the chips are down?

Craig said: "You see them wearing sunglasses and baseball caps but I won't be doing that. I will just try not to give it away if I have a good hand.

"It is obviously going to be a different kind of atmosphere from playing on the computer."

He added: "I might take my mp3 player to shut out the noise and help me concentrate."