A STRONG heart and nerves of steel earned Hervey Bay's Brad Martin a place in next year's World Series of Poker Millionaire Maker in Las Vegas.
Martin's days will turn to night-time as he sits alongside some of the world's best poker players for a chance to win one million dollars.
It will be the third time the 44-year-old will compete at the City of the Lights but this was arguably the sweetest.
As well as being a chance to holiday to one of the world's premier destinations, Martin's aim is simple: to win at Sin City.
He first had to win his way through a tournament at Hervey Bay RSL, and then travelled to the three-day 888PL 10th Anniversary Accumulator at Rockhampton.
"On the final tables it (got nervous)," Martin said.
"I was getting short-stacked: I wasn't getting any cards so I just took my time, just waiting. I started with just under $600k and got to under $345k and watched everyone shoving in (all-in).
"I thought once the blinds got back to me I had to push any two cards as the stack was getting eaten away."
He managed to get through the three-day event bluffing only twice, and when it got to the end he was hit by a pleasant deja vu.
In 2006, Brad and Trudy Martin travelled to Vegas for the first time and enjoyed their first win.
On that night he took home just under US$1000 from "the Rio" courtesy of a nine and 10 of diamonds.
Imagine his surprise - and nerves - when he got the same cards on what turned out to be the last hand.
"It was so unreal," he said.
"He was small blind and pushed all-in. I looked and I thought 'I'm not folding these'. It was the Rio hand."
A nine on the flop had Martin pumped but cautious: a king on the river would spell disaster.
Martin won, and the bright lights of Las Vegas beckoned.
"I walked away from the table straight to the back to the room, got out my phone and started singing Viva Las Vegas to my wife," Martin said.
"Every time we'd get to a break I'd go outside - I was getting too emotional. But I could feel it, fair dinkum I could feel it."
Martin will be one of almost 8000 people to compete at the 2016 WSOP event, where the winner is guaranteed US $1 million.
He could earn a hefty pay day even if he's not the last man standing, as last year's ninth-placed finisher pocketed about US $199,000.
Rather than be worried about the six-day event Martin said he would approach the opportunity the same way he did in Rockhampton.
All he will need is a strong heart, nerves of steel, and a little luck on his side.
Go to www.888pl.com.au or Like 888PL/APL Hervey Bay on Facebook for more information.
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