Karl Mahrenholz looks at how Team GB fared in Vegas

After a slow start to the WSOP for the British hopefuls, bracelets for Barny Boatman, Matt Perrins and Matthew Ashton gave the world a reminder of both the talent and strength in depth of poker players this side of the pond. Ashton had the biggest win in the $50k Poker Players Championship event that bagged him over $1.7 million, and Perrins’s victory in the tough $5k NLHE (for his second WSOP bracelet) confirmed his position as one of the UK’s best young tournament players. However, it was Barny’s win that captured the heart of the poker romantics. Whether it’s the fact that most of us grew up watching him on Late Night Poker or if it’s just what a great guy he is, I don’t think there would be many people in the poker world who weren’t thrilled to see Barny come through to win his first bracelet.

While I may not have picked any of the winners, some impressive performances this year may well be an indication of bigger things to come. Tom Hall finished 13th in one of the big field $1k events and Rhys Jones 16th in a $3k, while both Alex Lindop and Simon Deadman bagged themselves two WSOP cashes during the summer. The standout performance of the group though went to Sunny ‘The Rain Man’ Chattha, who cashed six times in bracelet events, including a 16th and a 30th place finish, and on top of that cashed for $35k in events at the Bellagio and Venetian.

Say Watt?

One person who wasn’t on my ‘ones to watch’ list for this year and who may not have been on many people’s radar was Steve Watts. Steve is arguably the most improved player on the UK circuit. I remember back in 2008 playing one of the daily Bellagio events when Steve joined my table. I knew who he was as James Akenhead was friendly with him but not really enough to share much more than an acknowledging nod. At the time James, Praz, Sunny, Chaz [Chattha] and I were getting a bit of attention as the new kids on the UK poker scene and I think Steve was keen to show he wasn’t about to be pushed around by some upstart. I think he sat for at least a round before he made his stand and his gutshot failed to match up to whatever hand I’d card racked. His tournament was over quicker than a Leyton Orient cup run.
Fast forward five years or so and Steve is an established member of ‘Team Duffy’, playing professionally both around the UK and in bigger events abroad. His happygo-lucky character and loud personality both on and off the table belies a depth of knowledge he has picked up by surrounding himself with a variety of young UK poker talent. I recently played again with Steve in the London WPT event, the first time we’d shared a table since the Bellagio. Ironically, history repeated itself and I again knocked him out in a hand where he bluffed his stack off to me, but this was a completely different set of circumstances where he showed excellent hand reading skills and the ability to put people in very tough situations. His results over the last three years speak volumes and it should have been no surprise to anyone to see Steve finish inside the top 60 of this year’s Main Event, bagging himself over $120,000. Rumours that he paid me off to stay at home are completely unfounded.

Stars of the future

It was great to see the line up of Full Tilt Poker ambassadors for the UKIPT unveiled. Martins Adeniya, Ben Jenkins, Sin Melin and Dermot Blain are all great players, but more than that I’ve no doubt they will show what it really means to represent a brand in the 2013 poker world. I think they’ve really hit the nail on the head with this group. They’re all regulars on the tour and give its players something achievable to aspire to. And judging by the publicity shots they don’t scrub up too badly either. First up for these guys is the Galway Poker Festival in August. Be warned Ireland, the infamous Adeniya stare down is coming to a table near you!
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