Tournament Report: GUKPT Blackpool

Thu 13/Nov/08 - Sun 16/Nov/08
Grosvenor Blackpool, England,
Submitted by: snoopy on Sun, 23/11/2008 - 2:03pm
Game Type:No Limit
Prize Pool:£341,000

With the Pleasure Beach shutting up shop for the winter, the usually heaving coastal setting echoed scenes from genocidal zombie films as poker’s very own living dead assembled in the recently refurbished G Casino for the penultimate leg of this year’s GUKPT. With recent numbers in Thanet and Bolton lacking, an impressive 343 found their way to this seasonal coastal town with the likes of Ian Frazer, James Akenhead, Praz Bansi, Sam Trickett, Mickey Wernick and reigning champion Paul Bracken all avoiding the magnetic field of Warsaw or Amsterdam and setting their sights on more local shores.

As the penultimate stop on the Tour, valuable points and last minute seats in the debuting Champion of Champions event were all up for grabs, as was the mouth-watering £96,500 first prize and the accompanying seat in the upcoming Grand Final. The early queue for a jump off the Pier was surprisingly populated as the artist formerly known as Mick McCool was soon joined by Om Aggarwal, Peter Seager and Roberto Romanello, the Welshman’s straight flush draw making it on the turn, but being unravelled on the final street by a boat he would soon need.

As the opening levels passed, the temperature turned cooler than a mother-in law’s kiss, predominantly aided by the flurry of cold decks on display. Neil Channing exited to a set over set, as did Joe Grech, and Lynne Beaumont couldn’t avoid getting it all in with aces versus the flopped set of Harpit Gurnam. With Chuck Sellers and Mark Wilson both victims of nasty kings versus aces encounters, a ruling was required on Table Goodwin as MrCool had threatened to “bet the pot” only to be denied by a reluctant dealer. Our caped T.D. slid in like a champion ice skater to judge that a pot bet could be made and that play would continue.

As your intrepid bloggers were regaled, along with the rest of the room, with Mad Marty anecdotes and various trivial gems such as “Do you know Finland eats more meat per person than any other country?”, a three-way all-in on a nearby table was busy creating a monster pot and an early chip leader. Or so you would have thought, because although Sid Harris’ rivered flush with queens versus aces and kings on a dramatic Q-9-K-2-T board would have normally seen more chips than Harry Ramsdons sail his way, all three players still had circa their starting stack and it was game on as usual.

Of course, those chips must have been somewhere, and early doors they were in the grateful paws of Javed Abrahams, Waseem Shahid and Jon Heath (pictured), the latter putting his success down to six pairs of queens, five of which made sets and one that even delivered an early Christmas present in the form of runner runner quads.

As the day drew to a close we witnessed a kafuffle of handbag proportions in which Terry Nelson accused Gary Chatterton of telling neighbour Martino Libertini his hand. Again, Captain T.D. flew in from a nearby window and ruled in Chatterton’s favour, thus leading to his kings holding up against jacks to eliminate a begrudging Liverpudlian. And with the final level refusing to calm the storm, a number of familiar names joined him on the rail, Dave Colclough losing out with kings v A-K, Nick Gibson’s queens no good against A-2 and Alan McLean completing a series of testicle crunches with tens being anally intruded by pocket nines.

With GCBPT Liverpool victor Zachary Ford (left) leading 88 other survivors into Day 2, the frantic pace continued to deliver as the demise of Alan Dean and Peter Jidne were countered by double ups for Mike Fisher, Dan Hook and Jake Cody. Before we’d barely finished saying, “They’re dropping like Ramones”, we’d lost yet another, this time Harpit Gurnham whose queens ran headfirst into eventual last woman standing Suzanne Pyefinch’s pocket rockets.

As an astute NoflopsHomer noted the statistically impressive form of A-K versus queens, we lost Stuart Rutter to that very encounter, followed by Marc Goodwin whose Big Slick succumbed to the next pair down. Meanwhile, the chip lead was being tossed around like a hot potato, Mohammed Shoahebe, Norman Levitt and former EPT winner Andreas Hoivold all enjoying brief spells at the top. Hoivold, who has become a welcome addition to the Tour of late, then took a dent courtesy of a queens versus jacks and A-K encounter, a king on the flop sealing the fate of Alan Trueick, but rewarding Eddie Lundon with a 200,000 pot.

Forever on the prowl and searching intrepidly for an opportunity to make an extra buck, Neil Channing was spotted scouring the cardroom as we approached the nitty-gritty and offering players "bubble insurance". "Get your £250 ready," said Channing to short-stack William Martin. "You might need it." Inevitably, the business proposal was short-lived as interest was sparse, although Darren Grosvenor may have cursed his missed opportunity, a failed sixes versus A-Q battle seeing him snap up that unwanted bubble spot and ruing not reaching for his wallet.

Moments prior to the splash of the bubble, Jon Heath had made a move of epic proportions with K-2 versus queens to make Alan Vinson the first man to break the 400,000 mark, but this accolade would not last as Hoivold eliminated Sunny Chattha in eleventh to help him take a mammoth stack of 838,000 onto the final table:

Seat 1: Gareth Jones -- 394,000
Seat 2: Brian Clarke -- 132,000
Seat 3: Guy Johnson -- 301,000
Seat 4: Eddie Lundon -- 244,000
Seat 5: Alan Vinson -- 497,000
Seat 6: Damian Evans -- 337,000
Seat 7: Darren Hickman -- 509,000
Seat 8: Andreas Hoivold -- 838,000
Seat 9: Zachary Ford -- 217,000

With the blinds rolled back and the onlooking crowd salivating for action, the starter’s whistle sounded and the battle for gold began. First to fall was company director Damian Evans (left). Although demolished by Ford with 6-6 versus A-K, it was Vinson who picked up the pieces, his T-5 flopping a five against Evans’ Q-2 to see him exit in ninth.

Next to hit the deck was Guy Johnson. After flat-calling a preflop reraise from Ford with a pair of ladies, Johnson announced all-in on a raggy flop only to be insta-called by Ford’s pair of bullets. No threesome this time and Johnson was gone.

After Gareth Jones had ran A-K into Vinson’s aces to exit in seventh, Eddie Lundon snapped up sixth when his K-Q failed to improve against Hoivold’s A-3. With Darren Hickman forced to settle for fifth, the line-up looked as such:

Seat 2: Brian Clarke -- 170,000
Seat 5: Alan Vinson -- 1,235,000
Seat 8: Andreas Hoivold -- 495,000
Seat 9: Zachary Ford -- 1,500,000

The presence of Dena (right) on the microphone seemed to, understandably, slow things down a little, but eventually we lost our next man when Hoivold dealt out a double whammy to Vinson. No miracles with A-4 versus A-K and 9-9 versus J-J and Vinson was forced to settle for fourth.

Although odds on favourite, it would be Hoivold who would miss out on a heads-up encounter, his A-Q running into Ford’s A-K to leave us with our final two, Clarke delighted to have climbed the ladder so high, but faced with an uphill struggle with just 600,000 in chips to Ford’s 2.8 million.

Having doubled up a staggering five times on the final table alone, some sensed that destiny favoured the local, and after Clarke’s 6-5 rivered Ford’s K-T all in preflop, the engravers were forced to cease counting those chickens and wait patiently at ringside. Another double through in the form of J-9 versus 8-8, and it was neck and neck, the result of which led to a deal being agreed in which each player took home £75,000 leaving just a couple of thousand and the title to play for, not to mention the Grand Final seat.

As the most experienced, Ford was still expected to go home with the trophy, and when he got his man all in with jacks versus T-8 off-suit, that spot on top of the podium was his… wasn’t it? A jack on the flop certainly suggested so, but running diamonds for an unlikely flush had the crowd in a frenzy and led to Clarke taking the chip lead for the first time in the tournament. At this point, James Akenhead, who had accidentally bet £20 on Ford thinking he was punting on Simon Zach, began gauging his own eyes out and vomiting in the nearest roulette wheel.

Several hands later and we had our winner. With queens versus A-K, Clarke was looking to avoid one of six cards. Two of them arrived on a 9-K-6-A board, but the queen on the river triggered joking cries of “Live poker is rigged!” and allowed Lady Luck to finally award Clarke the title of Champion of Blackpool

A night watchman originally from Glasgow, local amateur Brian Clarke had low expectations heading into this event, but turned a pipe dream into a reality to provide the festival with a fairy-tale ending and etch his name firmly into the history books. A gentleman throughout, Brian fought the tears in victory and as such was a highly popular winner who encapsulated many of the aspects of poker that make the game so great. Forget the F.A. Cup, it was the 'magic of the GUKPT' that grabbed us this weekend.

1st  Brian Clarke -- £77,750
2nd  Zachary Clarke -- £75,000
3rd  Andreas Hoivold -- £40,900
4th  Alan Vinson -- £27,300
5th  Darren Hickman -- £20,300
6th  Eddie Lundon -- £16,200
7th  Gareth Jones -- £12,800
8th Guy Johnson -- £10,250
9th  Damian Evans -- £7,650