Karl Mahrenholz on giving Vegas a miss

This was my first year since leaving my real world job that I won’t have been in Vegas. After seven consecutive years of summertime spent in the Nevada desert it feels a bit strange to be living outside the theatre of the WS OP. I’ve been following some of the updates and it’s great to see the UK players doing so well. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another UK November Niner emerge this year.

There’s been plenty of poker to keep us occupied this side of the pond though. Not least the much anticipated ISPT event. Even after Dusk Till Dawn bravely took over the poisoned chalice there was still much uncertainty surrounding the event. How many players would turn up? How well can a tournament be run inside a football stadium? Turns out the answers were, ‘not as many as hoped’ and ‘surprisingly well’.

A total of 761 Day 2 players created a prizepool of just over €2m – leaving a shade under €600k to be added to the first place prize which had been guaranteed at both €1m and a maximum of 20% of the collected prizepool. There are many reasons for the below par turnout: the time of year, the short build-up allowed to DTD after they stepped in, the state of the poker economy and so on. Maybe the project was too ambitious but it’s certainly one that will be remembered in the history of UK poker.

ISPT in review

What was lost in numbers was made up by the organisation of the event. This was a truly spectacular setting and those that made it onto the hallowed turf were not disappointed. Simon Trumper must have been pulling his hair out at the prospect of what was needed to host it, but things went as smoothly as any event held on Nottingham’s premier industrial estate. Some people did say, however, that they struggled to keep the temperature inside the igloo pods at the right level. My girlfriend Amy came back from Day 2 sporting an ISPT t-shirt as the conditions were hotter than expected. At least she wouldn’t make the same mistake for Day 3. Leaving dressed for a summer’s day she came back in a new ISPT winter jacket. The merchandising stand did a roaring trade. 

Amy ended up in 28th place and our good friend Praz Bansi finished 15th. The final table also had a good British representation, although Julian Gardner was particularly unlucky (T-5 getting cracked by A-8 on a T-T-9 flop!) to bust in 10th place. It was left to Pete Linton (fourth) and Nick Hicks (third) to fly the British flag in the official placings before a somewhat strange deal, made six-handed, saw Pete go away with the second largest prize. Pete had already turned down a deal at the end of the previous day when six players were left. It’s reported he was very reluctant to make this deal and, with a big chip lead and players who would certainly be keeping an eye on the pay jumps, it’s not hard to see why. It’s unclear why he decided to give in before a card was dealt on the final day, and only he will know. Either way, it has to be a special tournament when you’re reluctantly taking €375,000.

A big Encore

While not quite offering to make someone a millionaire, the newly-shaped GUKPT has also been offering players an escape from continuous Facebook updates emanating from ‘Paradise, Nevada’. And I was pleased to see Jeff Kimber making a deep run. His seventh GUKPT main event final table saw him cement his place in the all-time top five GUKPT money winners list. While he fell short of his second victory, the £18,000 for second place is just enough for a last minute flight somewhere slightly warmer than Reading…

One of the things keeping me busy has been Poker Encore’s move to tier 2 of the iPoker network. Now we’re partnered with Coral we have access to a bigger player pool, better games and even better promotions, specially designed for UK players. I’m excited for everyone in Vegas to get back and try it.

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