GUKPT Bolton

Thu 04/Sep/08 - Sun 07/Sep/08
Grosvenor Bolton, England,
by Snoopy
Submitted by: snoopy on Sat, 13/09/2008 - 12:21pm
Game Type:No Limit
Prize Pool:£175,000

Textiles, Amir Khan, Vernon Kay – there aren’t too many things Bolton is famed for, but in the niche world of poker, being the birthplace of the GUKPT is one. Now, 18 months on, 175 players reunite in the Grosvenor Casino in an attempt to echo Praz Bansi’s efforts of last year and be crowned King of Bolton.

Although other festivals resulted in a depleted field, we were still blessed with the presence of Marty Wilson, Jen Mason, Julian Thew, Neil Channing, Dave Colclough, Nik Persaud and Luton champ Sam Trickett, not to mention actor Michael Le Vell (left) who had swapped a spanner for a deck of cards to take a last minute venture away from the Street.

Whilst pocket rockets launched the wooden spoon into the hands of Om Aggarwa, others weren’t too far behind as Darren Hickman, Nick Gibson, Nick Hicks and Katherine Hartree all suffered fatal accidents early doors. Lawrence Gosney, Julian Thew and Stephen Walmsley, meanwhile, were all flourishing, the latter surprisingly so having built up a formidable reputation as a lean mean folding machine.

If day one was eventful, then the follow up was bedlam as Tony Cascarino began to amass a tower of chips that would require explosives to topple. Meanwhile, Rob Sherwood would transform a short-stack into an overnight chip lead, findings aces twice and kings once while also triumphing with A-Q versus A-T on a dramatic K-J-Q-Q-J board.

But before that we had a bubble to burst. Although James Morgan (right) had waved “Hi mum, I’m about to bubble” before indeed exiting with A-K versus Q-Q, he was in fact bubble to the bubble, with the official bursting duties falling onto the shoulders of Steve Craig. At the same time, Kevin O’Leary was performing miracles on the neighbouring table, managing to remain in the comp when Ali Mallu revealed his cards prematurely, before somehow turning 2,000 into 51,900 to see him make it through to day three.

With ten remaining, it was Tim Flanders who joined wife Pippa on the rail leaving a star-studded final nine to battle it out for the £52,850 first prize. One man whose journey was destined to go no further was Greg Hunt. All in against Tony Cascarino with eights versus A-J, he couldn’t avoid an ace on the flop and was gone in ninth. After Sid Harris, Surinder Sunar and Dennis Clough snapped up eight to sixth respectively, it was Kevin who would bite dust next. After a plucky performance that would have made Rocky look like a quitter, Kevin finally fell at the hands of Ali Mallu when his pocket knaves failed to survive the big slick of the jubilant local hero.

With Rob Sherwood (left) and Roberto Romanello exiting next, we were left with an intriguing heads up battle, the steady former footballer versus the unpredictable maniac. At first it looked as though the latter would taste gold, but Tony’s held his fair share of silverware in his time and quickly took it to the circuit pro. First he doubled up with Q-7 versus 8-4 on an 7-4-x flop, then kings versus K-8 all in preflop before finally finishing his man off with Ac-8c versus 9h-3h when three clinical clubs hit the flop.

Clearly elated with his magnificent achievement, Tony punched the air in delight before shaking the hand of his wounded opponent. A former International footballer who played for the likes of Celtic, Marseille and Aston Villa, Tony, 46, has been playing poker for six years, but professionally for two. Although experiencing minor scores on the circuit, this was by far his biggest victory to date and one that was thoroughly deserved. In the aftermath, Tony added: “I had a great sports career, but even this I think has overtaken some of things I have done in football. I just enjoyed it. I’ve had a strange year and this has made a big difference for me in the poker world.”

Hugely respected by many, Tony, along with fellow Littlewoods sponsored pro Michael Greco, has well and truly squashed the ‘celebrity’ stereotype and proven that stars of the past can win at poker. Meanwhile, Blue Square and Grosvenor justified their spot at the top of the industry, supplying yet another sensational tournament with a top notch structure and a cracking atmosphere throughout.
Now, if we could only get Tony to relinquish his grip on those two Blue Square models…

1st  Tony Cascarino -- £52,850
2nd  Ali Mallu -- £30,600
3rd  Roberto Romanello -- £21,900
4th  Rob Sherwood -- £14,900
5th  Kevin O'Leary -- £11,400
6th  Dennis Clough -- £8,750
7th  Surinder Sunar -- £7,000
8th  Sid Harris - £5,250
9th  Greg Hunt -- £4,400

View Gallery