A British gran who made it to the finals of a top international poker competition despite having no knowledge of the sport has been knocked out in the final stages.
Rookie Nicole Ray, 51, bagged a spot on the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) tournament in the Bahamas after winning a $15,000 trip to the exotic island.
She’d never played a live poker event before but hoped “beginners’ luck” would help her outsmart some of the game’s top players in the major competition this week.
Sadly Nicole was knocked out yesterday (mon) in the second day of the tournament, when she was handed a huge trophy for her efforts.
Nicole, from Peterborough, Cambs., said: “I didn’t win it, I am out of the game but wow what amazing people to be with and a great first time live poker experience.”
Nicole’s remarkable rise from poker rookie to tournament player began last year when she spent $27.50 to enter a PokerStars Spin & Go online match against two other players.
Her prize for winning was to be placed in a $500 online tournament where the top 100 players would be sponsored by PokerStars to play in the Bahamas.
Speaking before the tournament, Nicole said: “It took seven hours but I came 87th.
“I’m really a bingo player. I thought I was never going to go near poker. I have a very readable face which does not help.
“I could do with somebody teaching me. I’m going to have to put the heavy sunglasses on so they can’t read my eyes.”
Nicole’s strategy was to win enough big hands to increase her pile of chips, before she kept “folding and folding and got through” while the other competitors lost all their money and were knocked out.
PokerStars put up a $10,000 stake for her to compete in their prestigious event – with another $5,000 going towards flights, accommodation in the luxury Atlantis Paradise Island hotel and spending money.
The prize was for two people so Nicole took her poker loving daughter Helen along with her.
Nicole said: “I’m also really excited because it’s a bucket list thing for me.”
Her daughter Helen helped Nicole out with some advice ahead of her debut appearance in a live poker tournament.
She said: “It’s my dream to play in the tournament but I was happy I get to watch.”
Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars director of corporate communications, said: “Poker is a competitive game filled with winning moments and PokerStars is delighted that Nicole’s winning moment will give her an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas and free seat to play in the Main Event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).
“Regardless of the results of the competition, we’re confident that Nicole’s trip to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will be an unforgettable experience.”