The APAT Poker Association & Tour held the inaugural United Kingdom Team Championship in the G Casino Blackpool on 19th & 20th July. The event had 200 entries, in teams of ten drawn from 20 UK poker communities with a £50 buy-in per person. Supporting the event were 5 former APAT Champions and 13 former APAT Tour finalists. The players played for both individual and team prizes, points being scored by the top 50 finishers. The individual winner received significant added value from tour sponsors BlueSquare.com via the form of an entry package into a GUKPT Tour event worth $3,000 to the winner in addition to their cash prize. The winning team also received a championship trophy and £1,000.
Inevitably the early exits were all from big hands colliding. Blonde Poker's Curtis Ledger was first out when his flopped set of Kings ran into Eat My Stack's Ian Witt and his flopped set of Aces. Champion in the last APAT Event in Dublin Darren Shallis (blonde Poker) took Aces against Jon Spinks' (Eat My Stack) Kings, only to see a King fall on the turn to eliminate him.
As play progressed through the first day several players came to prominence. James Feeny of The Hendon Mob Forum was chip leader at the dinner break, overtaken mid-way through the evening by Mary Martin of Raise the River who’s Aces were twice paid off. Also doing well were Johnel Bracey of London Poker Meet-up, former APAT Champion Rich Offless of Chezger and UK Poker Life's Dale Leighton. The competition was played in a wonderful spirit with team camaraderie enhancing the atmosphere throughout.
At the end of the first day 25 players remained. In the individual competition prize money began at 19th and the top five chip leaders were:
Johnel Bracey (London Poker Meetup) 218,000
Ross Johnson (PokerPlayer) 184,000
Steve Talbot (EatMyStack) 178,000
Rich Offless (Chezger) 125,000
Carlos Gonzalez (The Hendon Mob) 124,000
In the team tournament, best placed appeared to be Bristol & South West Meetup, Raise the River and Fantasy Sports Interactive based on points scored to that point and numbers of players remaining from each team.
Blinds began on Day two at 4,000-8,000 and the run to the final promised to be brisk with little room to manoeuvre for the short-stacks.
Dale Leighton and Paul Smith of Bristol & South West Meetup made the most progress in the early skirmishes of day two, and moved to the head of affairs by knocking out two players each. Smith's team-mate Rod Buckman then had a dream hand. All in with Kings against Johnel Bracey and Tim Magnus (Team APAT) both holding Aces, the board brought Rod Quad Kingss, to take him to the chip-lead and knock both his unfortunate opponents out in a 300,000 chip pot.
With eleven players left Carlos Gonzalez of The Hendon Mob was unfortunate. Steve Talbot pushed the small blind on Carlos' big blind with K3. Carlos made an excellent call for his tournament life with K10 only to see a three flop and eliminate him. Louise Saban of Raise the River final table bubbled in 10th.
So the final table line up was as follows:
1 Rich Offless (Chezger) 318,000
2 Ross Johnson (Poker Player) 309,000
3 Dale Leighton (UK Poker Life) 181,000
4 Steve Talbot (Eat My Stack) 333,000
5 Mary Martin (Raise the River) 167,000
6 Nathan Samuel (UK Football Fans) 91,000
7 Andrew Bailey (Gutshot) 137,000
8 Rod Buckman (Bristol & South West Meetup) 253,000
9 Paul Smith (Bristol & South West Meetup) 232,000
and blinds at 6,000-12,000.
Rich Offless had a torrid start to the final table. He lost a big pot to Steve Talbot when passing to a three-bet on the river then doubled up Nathan Samuel when his Jacks could not beat Ace-Queen. Unfortunately his A7 then lost to the A6 suited of Dale Leighton which flushed to knock Rich Offless out in 9th. Next to depart was Ross Johnson who took AK versus the pocket eights of Buckman which won the race to knock Johnson out in 8th. Buckman himself then departed in 7th, he lost a big pot against team-mate Paul Smith with AK v KQ, then ran A9 into Mary Martin's AQ and lost a 40-60% shot on his final push.
Six handed Smith and Talbot were chip leaders but with no short-stacks there was all to play for. Mary Martin moved firmly into contention when she doubled through Nathan Samuel with AK v AQ leaving Nathan with one 5,000 chip remaining. He was next out in 6th. Mary Martin then knocked out Dale Leighton in 5th. Dale pushed with pocket eights in late position, Mary called with KJ in the blinds and hit. With big blind levels short-handed the stacks fluctuated wildly until Steve Talbot's KQ could not overcome Gutshot's Andy Bailey's AQ and he left in 4th.
Three handed Martin led Bailey with Smith the short-stack of the three. Mary Martin then knocked out Smith, her AK flopping an Ace against pocket eights. She had a comfortable lead going into Heads Up play.
Heads Up -play was brief, always likely with the stack disparity. Mary's KQ held on against Andy Bailey's Q9 to take the title of APAT UK Team Championship Individual Winner, playing for the Raise the River Poker Community. To rapturous applause from the large contingent of spectators, Mary won £1,250, the Championship Gold Medal and expenses paid entry into a GUKPT event worth $3,000 courtesy of APAT sponsor Blue Square.
In the Team Championship, Bristol & South West Meetup triumphed. The only forum with two final tablists, they won £2,500 plus an extra £1,000 to the team owners courtesy of Blue Square. Raise the River were second for £1,500 while newcomers Fantasy Interactive Sports Online took third for £1,000.