AN ACCRINGTON dad who played his cards right to win nearly half a million pounds has turned his hobby into a career and is now ranked as Europe's top poker player.
Arshad Hussain, 32, who lives with his wife Safina and two children Kiren, seven, and Iram, two, in Granville Road, Accrington, turned professional after scooping an amazing £340,000 in a Monte Carlo competition in March and to date has won £445,000.
He has been taken on by international poker company Pokerstars, which was so impressed by his second-place performance in the European Poker Tour that it offered him a sponsorship deal.
Since last speaking to the Observer after his big win, Arshad has bought a bigger house and now plays poker full-time but still has a financial hand in the family cushion business, Foam and Fibre, on Horne Street, Accrington.
Arshad said: "I'm really enjoying playing professionally and being ranked number one in Europe.
"I played in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas earlier this week. I was very unlucky and got knocked out so now I just need to concentrate on staying at number one.
"Everything seems to be going right and it's a fantastic feeling when I win but I've been saving my money and investing so I can provide for my children and my family in the future."
Arshad's winning streak started over three years ago when he stared playing poker on his laptop at home for five hours a day. He was rewarded with a £43,000 win.
He then went on to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Monte Carlo finals after winning an online game against 220 players, but was pipped to the post on the final day of the competition by a 19-year-old American who scooped the top prize of 900,000 Euros.
Arshad added: "The Las Vegas competition was very exciting and I had my family and friends supporting me.
"I'm looking forward to my next tournament in Barcelona on 11 September and when I get back home to the UK I hope to speak to Pokerstars about future sponsorship deals."