Sunday, June 16, 2024

Poker Player Goes Into Cardiac Arrest While Scooping a Pot, But There’s a Happy Ending

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Luck arrived just in time for a poker player in a JACK Casino cash game, and it had nothing to do with the river card!

John Grace, a longtime poker player, is fortunate and thankful to still be alive after going into cardiac arrest while playing poker back in February. Despite winning the pot in question, the odds of his survival were slim, given the incident occurred far from a hospital.

But he wasn’t drawing dead.

Medical Professional Saves Poker Player’s Life

Cleveland’s FOX 8 spoke to Grace about the near-fatal incident, and how he was able to beat the odds thanks a fellow player and medical professional who just so happened to be playing poker at the time.

Dr. Benjamin Kramer, a resident physician at the Cleveland Clinic, was seated two tables away from Grace. The future heart surgeon, upon witnessing a player nearby losing consciousness, quickly began CPR, but things still weren’t looking good.

“By all technical terms, (Grace) was dead,” Kramer told FOX 8. “When your heart stops, you’re dead.”

Giving CPR

  • If a person does not respond and is not breathing or only gasping, call 9-1-1
  • Hand position: Two hands centered on the chest.
  • Body position: Shoulders directly over hands; elbows locked.
  • Depth: At least 2 inches.
  • Rate: 100 to 120 per minute.
  • Allow chest to return to normal position after each compression.

Dr. Kramer did all he could just to keep Grace’s heart beating. According to the Cleveland Clinic, only 11% of people who go into sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive — about the same odds as Big Slick cracking pocket aces.

“Only 11% of people who go into sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive — about the same odds as Big Slick cracking pocket aces”

Survival largely depends on how quickly a defibrillator is administered to the heart. Fortunately for Grace, a casino security manager trained in emergency response arrived moments later with an automated external defibrillator (AED) device.

The portable device was activated right away, and every two minutes, Dr. Kramer and the security manager gave Grace six jolts to the heart. Fifteen minutes into the life-saving efforts, Grace was still showing no pulse.

While Dr. Kramer continued doing everything he could to resuscitate Grace’s heart, EMS arrived, and that is when the patient began to show a pulse.

The chances are less than 50% of survival from cardiac arrest if an AED isn’t used within the first three minutes. JACK Casino claims surveillance footage shows that the first shock from the AED was administered two minutes after the heart stopped. But Dr. Kramer says it occurred a minute or two longer.

Either way, the response was quick, although it could have been faster had the resident physician known there was an AED in the poker room. Still, the speedy response from casino staff and the immediate efforts from Dr. Kramer were crucial in saving Grace’s life.

Grace and Dr. Kramer were reunited for the first time during the FOX 8 feature story. Upon greeting each other, the two shared a hug.

“Thank you for being there that day,” Grace told Dr. Kramer while shaking his hand. “I wake up every day wondering how I was so lucky.”

Kramer, who hails from New York and has played poker for over 40 years, is healthy and back in the poker grind. He even earned a small cash in a $300 buy-in no-limit hold’em Seniors event at JACK Casino earlier this month.

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