Karl Mahrenholz: Plenty of poker talent north of the border

PokerEncore.com’s Karl Mahrenholz takes a peek at the poker talent coming out of Scotland and hopes for a ‘No!’ vote to keep it in the UK

There’s been a lot of newspaper column inches about the upcoming referendum on the future of Scotland. Will the nation vote to separate from the rest of the UK or will it stay part of the family? A recent trip north for the Edinburgh GUKPT got me thinking about how poker in Scotland has developed in recent years. Turns out the UK will be losing some serious poker talent should our friends north of the border decide to go it alone…

Poker in Scotland has always been somewhat in the shadows of that in England. Players seeking bigger, more lucrative events have always had to travel south. While that’s not too surprising, it is a trend that has started to turn in recent years since the growth of the UK poker tours. While it’s taken the GUKPT until its eighth season to host a main event in Scotland, the newer UKIPT hosted its first Scottish event back in 2010. A total of 401 showed the appetite of the Scottish audience for bigger events, as well as the willingness of traveling players to visit such beautiful cities as Edinburgh. Numbers for Scottish UKIPTs have remained solid.

Britain’s Scot talent

If you were to ask a poker fan for his top Scottish player, you may hear a few of the same names crop up. However, if you’d have asked the same question five years ago said fan may have looked at you blankly. There is no great pedigree in Scottish poker like in England or Ireland but the onset of the internet generation in the post-Moneymaker era has seen some true talent emerge.

The rise in Scottish poker talent has coincided with an influx of strong young players who have adopted Scotland, and in particular Edinburgh, as their new home. Recent co-final tablists at the GUKPT in Edinburgh, Andrew Teng and Dominik Nitsche, both live together in Edinburgh. Andrew added a second GUKPT title to his resume that day while Dominik, originally from Germany, has a WSOP bracelet, WPT title and a host of other live success amongst his $3 million of live cashes. Add EPT champion Rupert Elder and cash game pro Thomas Partridge into the mix and you have the basis of a very strong community.

The stars of tomorrow

David Vamplew is the clear leader on the all-time Scottish money list. Sitting on over $3m of live tournament earnings alone, alongside an impressive online record (including $1.4m in winnings on PokerStars), David is over $2.3m clear of the second placed Scotsman. David burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion in September 2010 by beating John Juanda heads-up at EPT London, winning an incredible £900k. In 2013 he nearly added a WSOP bracelet to his EPT title when he finished runner-up in two separate events! Despite missing out on the bracelet he left Vegas $750,000 richer, cementing his place as the most successful Scottish tournament player of all time.

Second on the all-time Scottish money list is Niall ‘firaldo87’ Farrell. Niall has had an incredible 12 months to establish himself as a true force in European poker. With total live cashes of $800k his breakout live result was at last year’s WSOP where he narrowly missed out on a bracelet, finishing runner-up in the $3k hold’em event for $368k. Just last month he secured his biggest online cash of $236k in the FTOPS main event.

There is also a rash of Scottish poker talent bubbling under the surface waiting to break out. One such player is Robbie Bull. I was at the final table when Robbie won the UKIPT London last year for £113k. He has a great presence at the table and it’s clear that this result will be the first of many for him.

My next tip for future live success won’t be a surprise for anyone who follows the online poker world – it’s Ross Loggie. I played with Ross at the recent GUKPT in Edinburgh where he ran over the table on Day 1, ending the day with the chip lead. He went on to finish in sixth place. Depending on how much travelling Ross does in the upcoming years it is clear he is going to be one to watch.

David Docherty is 20th on the Scottish money list and still waiting for his first big result. If you needed any proof take a look at this clip. My final pick is Paul McTaggart who, under the alias Bobafett, has recently surged through the $1m mark in online cashes. His win in the 2012 Edinburgh GPS main event has helped him to 30th in the Scottish money list.

So, while the UK has a great depth of poker talent let’s hope Scotland votes ‘NO!’ so we can keep some of our best prospects flying the Union Jack.

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