It's Christmas for Latvian poker star

A Latvian lad delighted the home crowd in Riga this November by winning the European Masters of Poker contest.

Edgars Augstkalns saw off competition from 175 European poker aces, collecting a prize of 87,871 dollars.

The event was held at the Royal Casino Hotel in Riga, with Mr Augstkalns facing 4 Swedes, 3 Latvians, and Bulgarian and a Finn in the final round.

The nonchalant Latvian held his nerve, defeating Sweden's Joakim Fredriksson in a tight fought closing clash.

The victory brought the Latvian ace's overall career earnings to a tidy 111,188 dollars.

It was a pleasant early Christmas present for Edgars, and the yuletide spirit has already arrived in Latvia, with the much-loved tree taking pride of place in the Old Town.

It is alleged that the first decorated Christmas tree in Europe was erected in Riga in 1510. Nevertheless, historians in neighbouring Tallinn have recently challenged the record, saying they got their first a decade earlier.

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