Man Survives Heart Attack at Poker Table After Winning Pot

Earlier this year, an Ohio man had a heart attack at a poker table after winning a $1,000 hand at JACK Casino in Cleveland.

During the ordeal, his heart actually stopped. However, luckily for him, an off-duty heart specialist doctor was in the casino and came to his rescue until emergency medics arrived. 

This week, John Grace spoke to the media to detail his lucky story. He also took the opportunity to promote the importance of knowing what to do in those situations. 

Grace and his doctor/saviour, Benjamin Kramer, are also pressing casinos to install more automated external defibrillator (AED) machines. 

The Incident

Grace has been an avid poker player for 22 years. On the night of February 18, 2024, he was playing Texas Hold ‘Em at JACK Casino in downtown Cleveland. 

Just as he won a $1K pot, Grace was reaching over to collect his chips when he suffered a heart attack. He slumped over the table, and fell unconscious. 

Luckily, Kramer, a heart surgeon in training, was also playing poker just a table over. He rushed to Grace’s aid and administered CPR. But there was no pulse. 

“By all technical terms, he was dead,” Kramer said, speaking to FOX8 Cleveland

 “When your heart stops, you’re dead.”

Fortunately for Grace, a member of the casino staff arrived minutes later with an AED machine. The use of the machine was credited with saving his life. Some 15 minutes later, when EMT teams finally arrived, Grace’s heart started beating again. 

“Thank you for being there that day,” Grace told Dr. Kramer after he left the hospital. 

“I wake up every day wondering how I was so lucky.”

Lucky Survivor 

In the U.S., the odds of surviving a heart attack when not near a hospital are low. Grace, however, is now back at the poker table in JACK Casino on a weekly basis. 

His lucky story is in contrast to some at other casinos around the U.S. The family of a man who died at a Wynn Las Vegas blackjack table in 2022 are currently suing the resort operator for wrongful death.

They allege that casino staff ignored David Jagolinzer while he was slumped unconscious at the blackjack table for 15 minutes. Then staff attempted to use a defibrillator but none were trained correctly, the lawsuit said.

In other poker news this week, a British aristocrat lost the kind of money at a high stakes table that would give some people a heart attack. George Cottrell lost $20 million at the Maestral Resort & Casino in Budva, Montenegro, over the weekend.

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