888 Poker tournament: Stratford, London against stunning Sofia Lovgren

I’m used to playing online poker in my pants at home – so when Lads Hols were invited to join two former Premier League footballers for a real poker tournament I jumped at the chance.

The event was held at the huge Aspers Casino at London’s Westfield, in Stratford. It’s a super-casino and as close to Vegas as you’ll get on UK soil.

Aspers Casino at London's Westfield, in Stratford
Aspers Casino at London’s Westfield, in Stratford

The night began in the VIP room where the cocktails started flowing and I was introduced to ex Manchester United forward Andy Cole and former Leeds star Danny Mills.

Mills was part of the England squad back in the day when people like Michael Owen were said to be losing thousands on the back of the tour bus – so I had to take my chance to ask him about it.

Former Leeds United footballer, Danny Mills.
Former Leeds United footballer, Danny Mills.

“It was mad,” he said. “There were some huge cheques being written back then.”

“So did you get involved?” I asked.

“No chance”, he laughed. “I’ve got better things to spend my money on.”

Tonight was all about fake chips, with the top prize for the journalist winner a trip to Costa Brava.

Mills and Cole have long hung up their boots but, like many sports stars, have taken to trying their hand at poker.

Andy Cole playing poker at 888.com tournament
All in? Andy Cole

Loads have done the same; the ginger German tennis player Boris Becker is probably the most famous.

Texas Hold-em was to be the game for the night and we were split into two groups – each made up of a celeb, writers and actual poker pros.

I was sat opposite a beautiful young lady who smiled innocently when I sat down. “She’s hot,” I thought. “Wonder who she writes for…”

888 poker star, Sofia Lovgren
888 poker star, Sofia Lovgren

But I soon found out this pretty little thing was actually one of the biggest poker sharks in the world and a full time professional.

No surprise then, Sofia Lovgren took my stack about three hands in. And with that my pride.

I was knocked out in the blink of an eye and was soon wandering through the casino floor looking for the exit and the train home.

For now, think I’ll stick to improving my game at home with online poker. I swear I have way more luck playing in my pants.