A CHAMPION poker player who lost his game face and belted another player during a tournament has been fined $1100.
Timothy Brown, 29, pleaded guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to recklessly causing injury, claiming he was provoked.
Police told the court that about 9.30pm on February 18 Brown was playing poker at the Whalers Hotel in Warrnambool with six others, including the victim.
He approached the victim and while he was turned away punched him to the head, continuing to punch him as he went to ground.
Brown was asked to leave the hotel and the victim went to hospital suffering bruising and abrasions. He later made a statement to police.
Defence counsel Pat McComish said his client had been provoked by the victim using abusive language and making threats directed at both Brown and another man and had lost his patience.
Mr McComish said Brown was a skilled player and had finished second in a Victorian tournament and was the regional champion in 2011.
He said there had been three separate incidents involving Brown and the victim in the lead-up to the assault at The Whalers with the victim usually unhappy after losing at poker.
The solicitor said Brown had not responded previously but on the night the victim had drunk a considerable amount of alcohol, his comments steadily progressing to threats.
Mr McComish said his client rarely drank alcohol and never while playing poker.
He said Brown feared he was going to be assaulted and let his temper get the better of him when he assaulted the man.
Magistrate Belinda Wallington said there was never an excuse for violence and Brown had thrown more than one punch.
Brown was not convicted and fined $1100 with $73.20 costs. He was banned from attending the Whalers for six months.
In another case yesterday, the magistrate said it was disturbing to hear of assailants hitting victims to the head after a man also pleaded guilty to an assault outside a Warrnambool nightclub.
Ross Stewart, 33, of Suzanne Court, Warrnam-bool, pleaded guilty to recklessly causing injury.
He was not convicted but fined $900 with $73.20 costs and banned from the Warrnambool CBD between 9pm and 6am for six months.
Stewart used a guard for a broken wrist to strike a man outside the Loft on Liebig Street at 12.30am on August 17.