FORMER electrician's mate Gary Miller, is a bright spark after winning a staggering £114,000 in a major poker tournament.

The 32-year-old is celebrating after scooping the top prize in the prestigious 888poker World Poker Tour 500 $1million guaranteed event after battling through an incredible 1,810 entries.

Gary, who lives in Shenfield, was euphoric after picking up the biggest win of his poker playing career having started playing Texas Hold 'Em full time five years ago.

And the triumph came on his home turf as he is a regular player at the 888poker Card Room, part of Aspers Casino, Westfield, Stratford, East London.

Like many newcomers to poker, Gary started playing home games at weekends with pals when he was about 18 or 19. Over the first few months he realised he had a natural talent for the game and noticed that he won the few pounds at stake more often than not.

After leaving Beal High School, in Redbridge, he went through a succession of manual jobs in the building trade but he became more and more interested in honing his poker skills.

"I talked to friends about the game and read a few books but I just kept playing and improving my game," he admits. "I loved the challenge of it all. The strategy of trying to outwit opponents and the ability to try and bluff my mates!"

Two years ago he finished second in a tournament in Newcastle winning £14,000 and was runner-up again at the 888poker Live event at Aspers, Stratford, in July last year where he took home £15,230.

A succession of small cashes continued and in the 888poker Christmas Cracker tournament he finished third for £8,430 on December 14.

But Gary was excited at the challenge of the 888poker sponsored WPT500 - especially as it was on his home "ground" at Aspers.

"I knew it was going to be a tough competition," he explains. "Any tournament boasting a $1million prize pool is going to attract the top players but I was feeling confident about my game. And the £420 entry was a reasonable price for such a huge guaranteed prize pool.

"During Day One I played a solid, tight game and didn't take too many chances. I was one of the chip leaders when the second day started. I decided to tweak my game as the tournament resumed. I didn't want to gamble and go out early on the second day as I had been doing in other events. But I did feel confident that I could change gear at any stage."

Play continued until there were just nine players left and once again Gary was chip leader when the contenders sat down on the Final Table.

After seven hours of nail-biting play, Gary found himself heads-up with Getnet Hailu, an advertising account manager from East Ham, as they battled for the first place finish.

Gary held a 15,460,000 to 11,805,000 chip advantage over his opponent and he never relinquished the lead. The final hand saw Genet put all his chips into the pot with King-Ten and Gary called with a pair of sevens. Genet went ahead when a 10 came down as one of the first three community cards. But with two cards to come, Gary hit another 7 to give him the winning hand.

Genet had to console himself with the £79,830 runner-up prize - the largest of his own poker-playing career.

One of the first people to congratulate Gary after he lifted the trophy and the cheque was Basildon-born 888poker Ambassador, Chris Moorman, who was commentating on the event.

Chris, 33, the world's most successful online poker player, said: "Gary did really well. It was a fantastic achievement."

After his quick chat with Chris, Gary was straight on the phone to call his fiancee, Danielle White, who was watching a live stream coverage of the tournament - but with a 30-minute delay.

"She couldn't have been happier when I told her it was all over and that I had won the title," he says. "She was so pleased for me and said how much I deserved it."

Now Gary, who has two children aged 12 and two, has another major event to look forward too - he and Danielle are getting married in Santorini, Greece on July 4.

'This win has put the icing on our wedding cake!" he beamed.