COUNCIL worker Neil Box had a BLAST playing the world's biggest poker tournament in Las Vegas - and it only cost him £1.55.
The 46-year-old community environmental warden with Caerphilly County Borough Council made it though to Day 2 of the 888poker sponsored World Series of Poker Main Event.
A staggering 7,221 players took part in last year's Texas Hold 'Em tournament - the most prestigious event in the annual poker calendar and held at the stunning Rio Hotel and Casino Complex in the gambling capital of the world.
That put the prize pool at a mouth-watering $67million. A total of 1,084 players got paid with the minimum cash being $15,000.
The entry fee for the tournament was $10,000 - unless of course you were Neil - who is took part for less than the price of a pint.
And it was the first time that Neil had ever played a live poker tournament - so no wonder he couldn't stop smiling as he is pitted his wits against the best poker players in the world.
Neil was sitting at home in Abertridwr when he decided to play a $2 Blast online tournament at www.888poker.com.
He was up against three other players but it was only after everyone had registered for the event that they find out the actual prize.
COMPETITION Win WSOP seat and Las Vegas trip worth £9,500 with our exclusive 888poker event… and it’s free to enter
Neil explains: "The wheel spins and it could have fallen on $4 or even $10 - but when it stopped it said we were playing for a $12,600 888poker package to the World Series of Poker Main Event - which included the $10,000 buy-in.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted. It was like an 80,000 to one chance that it would be a spectacular prize - but it just shows an ordinary bloke like me can get the chance win a trip of a lifetime.
"Two of the players got knocked out very quickly. And then I was heads-up with the other remaining player.
"Suddenly I picked up a pair of twos. He started betting but when the flop came down I hit another two and was almost home and dry.
"Seconds later I won the hand and knocked him out. The whole game had taken just 11 minutes from start to finish.
"I was punching the air with excitement. It was amazing. I was on my way to Vegas to play the World Series of Poker Main Event - and I had never ever played a live tournament before. What better way to start."
WIN A SEAT AT WSOP IN VEGAS
TONIGHT there is another chance to take part in our exclusive FREE-to-enter online Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament with the second of our THREE starting Day 1 events for Sun readers ONLY.
The winner will be the last player standing on Day Two of the event on Monday June 11 and will receive an incredible prize.
The award will be a £9,500 prize package including a £7,500 seat into the WSOP Main Event, five nights at the amazing Vdara Hotel, Las Vegas - July 3 to July 8.
The winner will also receive an invitation to an 888poker welcome session, an 888live poker kit and daily transport from the Vdara to the Rio Hotel and Casino.
So play your cards right and it could be YOU jetting off to the gaming capital of the world, to take part in the 888poker-sponsored World Series Of Poker Main Event, with millions in prize money up for grabs.
Simply go to 888poker and download the easy-to-use software - make sure you register to 888poker prior to the tournament to allow you to choose your online player user name.
You will not have to deposit any money.
TONIGHT'S PASSWORD: 'lastchance'
Neil ran upstairs to break the news to wife, Jaclyn - the next day they were leaving for a holiday to Newquay, Cornwall with their teenage daughter, Saffron.
But just days into their break they had to head home after Neil realised he had to organise his trip.
As part of the prize-winning package of the WSOP seat and a five-night stay at the luxurious Vadara Hotel, Neil also received $1,200 expenses.
Neil quickly phoned cousin, Jeffrey Weston, and asked him if he fancied coming with him.
Jeffrey, 52, who drives a dustcart for the council and has never played poker in his life, jumped at the chance.
Before he had even had time to think about it, Neil was organising time-off with their bosses.
Sofia Lovgreb's 8 TIPS for playing The Sun tournament
HAVE-A-GO poker player Neil hopes to have picked up a trick or two from amazing 888poker Ambassador Sofia Lovgren.
But we are not going to let him keep them to himself. Here the ice-cool Swedish shares her tips to help you get to the 888poker sponsored World Series Of Poker $10,000 Main Event in Las Vegas.
- Be well rested, load up with snacks and fruits to have energy and be in a great mood to play focused!
- Day 1 is a Super turbo tournament which is a great tourney to play because these tourneys attract players who are looking for fast entertainment at the poker table. You will need a little more luck than in regular tournaments because the pace will be very quick and most of the time you will be playing short-stacked poker and will face many fold or all in situations.
- In the early stage of this tournament you should be looking to play strong hands. Many players will gamble with the quick structure and once you pick up a good hand you will most likely double up your stack.
- In the middle stage of the tournament your stack will be shallow when blinds increase so there's not much room for playing marginal hands. When you enter pots, play aggressively and be ready to play for your whole stack.
- In the later stage most players will be short stacked, and your position and stack size is more important than your cards. Take advantage of the players who play too tight. You should be looking for spots to steal with an all in. For example, it could be a right spot to go all in on the button with any two cards to steal blinds. But remember,15 players make it to Day 2! So if you have a great stack, no need to gamble, but just cruise into the top 15 and guarantee yourself a seat to Day 2.
- For Day 2 in the tournament you need to study the other players carefully and try to find the weaker opponents who will be your targets.
- They will often make mistakes so you can exploit and you should be able to win big pots early, when they can’t fold their top pair.
- Play many hands in the beginning like suited connectors and small pocket pairs. Play hands that you can flop monsters with and can stack your opponent. If you play well in the early stages of the tournament Day 2 you will have a great spot, and can bust many players when the blinds increase.
- On Day 2, nine players will win a prize, but only ONE player will win the $12,600 World Series of Poker Main Event package - so be ready to gamble and with a little luck anyone can win it!
Jeffrey said: "It was a fabulous opportunity for Neil - a real once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I wasn't going to let him go on his own."
Now Neil is hoping to make it a win double by playing in the special Sun tournament TONIGHT to get through to tomorrow's final 45 players for a shot at winning another phenomenal package to this year's 888poker sponsored World Series Of Poker Main Event.
He adds: "It was great meeting 888poker Ambassadors Chris Moorman and Sofia Lovgren - I hope some of their skills rubbed off on me."