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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Article for the Star

Final Table Nottingham
As the UK & Ireland poker tour reaches its finale I find my self third on the leader board. The last event in London has a £5,000 entry which is ten times bigger than the rest of them and as a result the prize money will be ten times bigger than the rest with the winner getting something in the region of one million sterling. Not a lot of the regular UKIPT players will be making the trip to London with the high buy in but the top five or six will all be there for sure. In the poker world we don't keep score with trophy's or player of the year points, its all down to the amount of cash won at the tables but its still nice to win a league especially such a well supported league with the numbers breaking records time and time again.

My first points on the leader board were from the record breaking £500 entry in Nottingham in February. At the time it was the largest number of players ever to enter a tournament in Britain with  1058 punters starting over the two day ones. Once we were down near the money I was up there with the chip leaders and managed to stay there all the way to the final table of eight. The tournament had gone very well for me up to that and when the seat draw was done I was happy to have the young German player Tim Bettingien directly on my right. Tim is a top player and I had had played a few pots with him the previous day and felt he was the strongest player left. Also on the table was the very colorful Romano Pizzo, he had played the whole tournament wearing two jackets three hats a scarf, and all while reading the same newspaper! I eventually exited the tournament in sixth after getting very unlucky when my Ace Queen was beaten by Brett Angell who also held Ace Queen. All the chips went in pre flop and Brett managed to fill a flush when four hearts came down. 

I constantly get asked about that hand and people comment about how unlucky I was but I don't see it like that myself. When you play as much poker as I do then you see that sort of situation over and over again. The unlucky part is that it happened in a tournament with over £100k for the winner with six left. As a poker player most of us play  a wide range of buy in tournaments and your always hoping that the poker Gods will look after you in the big ones when it really matters. Another "unlucky" side note from that tournament is that Pokerstars only accounted for 500 players in the tournament leader board points system even though there was twice that in Nottingham so I only got the same points as I would have got for finishing sixth in a smaller field. One odd thing was they did change the criteria at the bottom end so if you finished 64th to 128th in Nottingham they did give you points towards the leader board even though as the original system only allows for 500 players so you have to finish in the top 63 to get points. 

Another thing from Nottingham that I had never seen before was on the final table they removed some levels to speed up the play. This removed a lot of play from the game and effectively reduced it to a shove fest which was disappointing especially with so much money on the line. I'm not in any way taking away from the tour as I believe this was the only event this happened in but when you are playing for enough money to buy a house and the tournament director tells you the television crew need to finish up so we are removing levels then you have to ask yourself what is going on. As it turns out it made no difference to my exit as I probably would have got it in with Ace Queen even if we were a little deeper relative to the blinds.

After an early exit in Manchester I headed to Cork hoping that home advantage might give me a lift. I was short for most of the tournament and only really got going half way through day two finishing forth in chips with eleven left. Cork was a little less dramatic than Nottingham in so far as I just never had the best hand when it mattered. I would not say I played bad or got unlucky in Cork just one of those things, somebody has to have the better hand and every time I put a chip in the middle I was second. The hand that done the most damage was when I picked up Queen Queen and after some betting before me I re raised again only to end up all in versus the Ace Ace of David O Connor and he held. I then went out shoving over the eventually winner Sam Razzvi with pocket tens when he had pocket jacks.

I headed to Newcastle, Brighton and Edinburgh before coming back to the Dublin leg with no success, the high light being Fintan Gavin winning the Edinburgh leg. I got my worst bad beat of the whole tour in Edinburgh when after busting from the main event I changed my flight to the Sunday night and as a result I missed the party for Fintan's victory which I believe was pretty spectacular. One thing those west of Ireland lads do better than the rest of us is throw a party although the Dublin lads will give them a good run for their money when Eoghan O Dea takes down this WSOP in November.

To have any chance of winning the leader board I need to finish in the top fourty players in the last event and maybe higher depending how Sam Razzvi and Rupinder Bendi get on.
London has not been a profitable town for me personally over the years but the Irish have done well there, six Irish players cashed in this event last year out of about fifteen who entered which is a great return. I was with Martin Silk a few years ago when he took down the GPT main event for over £170,000 and Dave Callaghan final tabled a WSOPE event there the year before that. Hopefully I will get a bit of luck when I need it and add to the Irish players impressive results in London town.

Ireland is also picking up a European trophy at this year’s London EPT, we had the highest ratio of entries to cashes with 16 of the 74 entries making the money in events throughout the year. Tom Finneran was responsible for 3 of those cashes with a number of well know Irish players chipping in with the rest. One thing that has eluded an Irish player is an EPT win, Fintan Gavin has come closest with his second place finish in Barcelona a few years ago, with over 20 players heading there in 2 weeks time it has to our best chance of winning one in a long time.

Elsewhere the Winamax shorthanded game is in Dublin next weekend which brings loads of French players to the capital and in turn makes for some crazy cash action. They really like to gamble and the games play like they did in Ireland a few years ago. After that it’s the Ladbrokes festival in Killarney, another tournament which gets great numbers and is famous for its drunken cash games.  


  1. Nice post Chris. It was good to look back at UKIPT 2011 from the perspective of someone who was there at the sharp end.