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East Yaphank man featured on TV poker game

Joe Sticco, of East Yaphank, had a chance at a million dollars when he appeared Sunday night on the "Pokerstars.net Million Dollar Challenge” on Fox.

Sticco, 26, won the first round against “Dancing With the Stars” host Brooke Burke and moved on to play professional poker star Vanessa Russo. He lost to Russo after a “grueling” match, he said.

If he had won, Sticco would have gone up against four-time World Series of Poker winner Daniel Negreanu, who coached Sticco through the first two rounds.

Sticco, a financial adviser, said he was playing for his mother, Stella, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. He had pledged to use his winnings for experimental treatments for his mother, whose cancer has since spread to her uterus and liver.

“In my line of work, I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I’ve done well, so I said, if I win a million I’m just going to give it to my mother.”

Sticco said that although he lost, the experience was one he and his mother will never forget. He said he’s now trying to earn a spot in the World Poker Tour Championship with the same goal of paying for his mother's treatment.

“If I can get a word out there about cancer and that there are cures and there are women who are actively fighting for their lives, that’s worth it.”

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