Late Saturday night, at a luxurious resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Pooria Nazari's first name became an oxymoron.
That's when Pooria, a 22-year-old, biochemistry graduate out of McMaster University, became a multi-millionaire with a first prize of $3 million US in the largest poker tournament outside Las Vegas.
Not a bad return for an original $33 investment online at PokerStars.net. In a Hollywood sort of finish at the final table of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Saturday night, Nazari needed only the fourth hand of heads-up competition against American Tony Gregg before winning the championship and striking it rich.
Gregg had raised the pot up to $650,000, Nazari made it $2 million, and Gregg shipped it all in.
"How much, like $8 million?" Nazari, in his dark sunglasses, asked with little emotion. "I call."
And he scraped out the triumph with a pair of tens, beating Gregg's queen-high.
Gregg garnered $1.7 million as the bridesmaid, but Nazari made history with top spot among the 1,347 participants who competed for six days.
"I'm really not sure what I'll do with this money," a subdued Nazari said afterward. "It's just a little hard for me to believe right now. It's surreal."
Nazari, who earned his degree only last month, said he only began playing poker six years ago, while in high school in his home town of Richmond Hill, Ont. For the past few years, he has played online at PokerStars, the largest online poker card room in the world. He qualified for the Caribbean tournament through a $33 rebuy turbo tourney, a series of quick-paced aggressive games that allow players the chance to buy back in even after a loss.
In addition to the prize money in the Bahamas, Nazari earned a berth into the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo from April 28 to May 3.
Marty York, Metro's senior sports columnist and associate sports editor, attended the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas during the weekend and will file more this week on the increasingly popular sport of poker to Metro newspapers and metronews.ca. Look for a feature by Marty on Canadian Isabelle (No Mercy) Mercier, one of the top five women poker players in the world.