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Retired policeman triumphs during challenge

In America, a retired New York City policeman has won one million dollars after taking part in the Million Dollar Challenge on television and beating top professional player Daniel Negreanu head-to-head.

Fifty-three-year-old Mike Kosowski revealed that he took up poker out of boredom after retiring in 2004 and used a combination of good cards and the ability to read people to win the top prize.

"It’s unbelievable,’ Kosowski told the New York Post newspaper.

‘We’re still on an emotional high every day. Every day I wonder ‘Am I living a dream'.’

The retired detective was one of the first officers on the scene following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center eight years ago and was helping to evacuate survivors when the South Tower collapsed. He stated that he was thrown ten feet into the air and suffered burns to his neck and back.

The Staten Island man revealed that his wife, Francis, had encouraged him to pursue poker as a way to occupy his time and was happy for him to enter a 16,000-person online tournament on in which he finished in fourth spot. That placing entitled Kosowski to submit a video to the programme's producers explaining why he would make a good television contestant. He eventually asked to be an alternate and was flown with his wife to Los Angeles where the show was taped over the weekend of the couple's anniversary.

"Playing against a pro is difficult because you know he knows the game inside and out," said Kosowski.

"You can’t take as many risks as you would against some guy in Atlantic City."

In the end, Kosowski was fortunate enough to get to play and won two consecutive four-person qualifier games in order to meet Negreanu heads-up. He revealed that he had researched his opponent by reading his book and watching Negreanu on television and had even figured out the Canadian's ‘tell'.

"The only read I picked up on him was…you knew he didn't have the best hand because he puts his hand behind the back of his head," said Kosowski.

Poker fans in the US can watch Kosowski's final hands on Sunday afternoon from five o'clock in the afternoon on Fox with the winner revealing that he will use his new-found wealth to pay off his mortgage while donating some money to charity.

"I just got lucky, you know, and I just played my game," said Kosowski.