Bury St Edmunds: Suffolk star wins �800k in poker tournament

A TALENTED poker player from Suffolk has scooped €930,000 in a top European championship.

Rupert Elder, 24, won the cash prize after beating top players at the European Poker Tour 7 (ETP7) San Remo competition last week.

Mr Elder, who lives in Bradfield St Clare near Bury St Edmunds, said he was struggling to take in his own success.

“It was awesome to win,” he said. “I was really overwhelmed.

“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

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Mr Elder, a former economics student, started playing poker while studying at Thurston Community College aged 18.

But his years of practice finally paid off as he snatched the title in Italy after beating Germany’s Max Heinzelmann in a hostly-contested final table on Tuesday, May 3.

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As well as his grand prize money, Mr Elder won a seat at the EPT Grand Final main event in Madrid as well as a place at the Champion of Champions event on May 13.

Now a professional player, Mr Elder said he was thrilled with his first win at a major tournament.

“I’m very happy to have won,” he said. “Max is a great player.

“He was definitely my toughest opponent at the table.

“I am a pretty confident in my own ability but I definitely thought I would be more nervous than that I was because you are playing for a huge amount of money.”

James Keys, a fellow Suffolk poker player and friend of Mr Elder’s, was at the San Remo event to support his pal, having himself won $1,023,638 in the 2011 Aussie Millions Poker Championship in Melbourne in January.

Having flown off to Spain to take his chances in the Grand Final main event on Saturday, Mr Elder said the secret of success in poker is always keeping your concentration.

“You just have to maintain your focus and not let your emotions take control of your decisions,” he said.

And as for the impressive prize money, which is the equivalent to �813,439.91, Mr Elder said he planned to invest some of the cash.

But he added he might treat himself to one small indulgence.

“I might buy a new hoodie,” he said.

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