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Bruce Bartfeld of Churchville, Maryland was playing a free-entry online poker tournament on and was running out of chips. The 52-year-old pet store owner says he has his cat Sadie to thank for helping him claw his way back—and right into the seat of a brand new Ferrari F430 Coupe.

“I was really short stacked,â€? said Bartfeld. “Then Sadie decided to jump up and sit on my lap and my luck changed for the better. They say cats have nine lives; Sadie certainly gave me a lifeline.â€?

Bartfeld was playing in his first tournament in an online poker room. PartyPoker operates the world’s largest online poker room, and its companion play-for-free education site,, where Bartfield played in a “freerollâ€? Texas Hold’em tournament—without spending a penny. The married grandfather of one beat thousands of top players and is now the proud owner of a sleek Ferrari F430 Coupe with a 4.3-litre, V8 engine that will top out at 195 mph.

PartyPoker spokesman Warren Lush said: “Bruce’s story shows how ordinary guys can go all the way in poker and win fantastic prizes.â€?

Commenting on his win, Bartfield said: “A friend of mine kept telling me to play online, but I was a bit cynical. I’d always been a five or seven-card stud man and have played for years with family over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I learned Texas Hold’em about a year ago, playing with friends, and finally thought I’d give it a go online when I saw the tournament offering the chance to win a Ferrari.â€?

“I remember shouting out to my wife Cookie during the tournament. ‘Honey I’m in the final three,’ I screamed and she didn’t react. She told me afterwards that she didn’t want to say anything since she was desperate not to distract me. I rode my luck a lot in the tournament. Sometimes I went all-in with very little and was just praying that others would fold. Luckily for me, they did. Thank goodness for Sadie.â€?

Other players may recognize Bartfeld’s poker user name “bestdragon.â€? He chose that name because he breeds bearded dragon lizards for sale as pets in his pet store. Lizards and poker are his two primary hobbies. Ten years ago he even provided the snake for WWE wrestler Jake “The Snakeâ€? Roberts when they were in town.

“This is a major event in my life, “said Bartfield. “I’m now going to take my poker a lot more seriously and try and qualify for the World Series of Poker. I’ve seen how ordinary guys like Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker can do it and now I want my chance at the big-time. My accountant knows Steve Dannenmann, who came second in the main event this year. If I could achieve even a little of what he has I’ll be a happy man. My mother made me a dreamer while my father taught me self discipline.â€?

No need to dream anymore. There’ll soon be a new Ferrari sitting in Bartfeld’s driveway. His current car is a Chrysler Town-and-Country van. “The fact that I won still hasn’t sunk in. I’d always dreamed of having a nice car, but a Ferrari? I haven’t had a speeding ticket in 10 years. I’m going to polish it and perhaps I will sit it on the driveway and let the neighbours look at it!â€?

Maybe he’ll even let Sadie go for a ride.

Bartfeld wasn’t the only winner. Jim Williamson, a 57 year-old railroad worker from Sebring, Florida won the tournament on, the company’s ‘real money’ gaming site, but decided to take $150,000, the cash equivalent to the car.

“I’m going to use it to pay off bills,â€? said Williamson. “I think I’ll never have a better day of poker than I did on the final table. I didn’t hit a full house once and never had a hand which I’d consider to be the nuts. I won the money with ace high. I passed on the car even though I can see the Sebring Speedway from my back garden!â€?


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