Awash with poker talent

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Card players took a very deep breath to play what is thought to have been Europe’s first underwater game of poker.

Six Sheffield sharps - or should that be sharks? - took part in the session in the diving pool at Ponds Forge.

Today The Star can reveal the unusual game - in which the sextet wore dinner suits and scuba masks - raised more than £6,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

“It went fantastically,” said John Stanley, organiser and underwater dealer.

“The games lasted two hours and there were the odd rash decision being made. But everyone had a huge amount of fun.”

More than 100 people turned up to watch.

The game was played at a weighted-down poker table and chairs, with specially designed cards and chips that could withstand getting wet - and would not float away.

A ‘mermaid’ host provided encouragement.

The winner was Scott Bailey, who received a fitting prize - a free diving session.

“The real winner was charity, though,” said 46-year-old scuba dive master John of Hawksley Mews, Hillsborough.

“We’re delighted to have raised so much.”

He organised the game after his wife Gina passed away aged 44 in May following being diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

Now he’s thinking of making it a regular event.

“It took a lot of organising and I would have to discuss it with several partners but when you raise that amount of money it gives you a bit of a buzz,” says John.

“I need to think about it but I see no reason why it couldn’t be an annual thing.”

The players were Scott, Mark Cullumbine, Mark Jeffs, Rob Timmins, Tim Martin and Dan Hamilton.