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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 12:28 GMT
Snooker star wins poker's big pot
Phil Taylor, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Darren Campbell, Jimmy White, Neil Ruddock and Steve Davis
Some of the celebrities Stevens beat on the way to his win
Snooker star Matthew Stevens has won $500,000 (260,000) after swapping the green baize for the poker table.

The Carmarthen potter who only started playing the card game 18 months ago won the UK's richest poker tournament.

Stevens beat tennis star Yevgeny Kafelnikov and darts champion Phil Taylor in the televised final of the Pacific Poker Open.

The 27-year-old has flown out to New York on a holiday to spend some of his winnings due to the exchange rate.

Before he left Stevens said: "This is absolutely unbelievable and I am in a complete daze.

Star poker players
Ben Affleck who won $350,000 at a poker tournament in California this year
Spiderman actor Tobey Maguire and Martin Sheen from The West Wing.
Ex-footballers Neil 'Razor' Ruddock, Paul Ince and Teddy Sheringham
Sports stars include snooker players Jimmy White and Steve Davies and athlete Darren Campbell
"It's a dream to win a poker tournament having only been playing for a short time.

"I was quietly confident going into the final but if at the start of the tournament you'd have told me I'd be winning it, I'd have thought you were barmy."

The final, screened on Sunday night, was pre-recorded and Stevens has already set about spending some of the money.

Stevens, who is ranked the sixth best snooker player in the world, became a father earlier this year.

His agent Brendan Parker said due to the current exchange rate between the pound and the dollar Stevens was away this week in New York.

"It's somewhere he had always wanted to go so he is away on a week's holiday spending some of his winnings," he explained.

Matthew Stevens and Phil Taylor (Pic: Don Lester)
Matthew Stevens received his winner's cheques from Phil Taylor

To get to the final Stevens had to beat poker professionals and online qualifiers that made up a field of 108 hopefuls.

World darts champion Taylor finished second and Kafelnikov, who has announced his retirement from tennis to concentrate on professional poker, came third.

Taylor said: "I couldn't have been beaten by a better person than Matthew. This tournament has been one of the highlights of my life."

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