Karl Mahrenholz: Life after Vegas

PokerEncore.com’s Karl Mahrenholz reviews the latest news from the British poker circuit, including the quiet superstar who nearly got it all in Las Vegas

August is always an interesting time in the poker calendar. Vegas has made some dreams while crushing many others. It’s a time for the returning UK players to regroup. Those who have enjoyed success may be tempted to take some time off, while those to whom Vegas was not so kind will be working on a plan to rebuild, or they may be re-evaluating their situation altogether…

Always watch the quiet ones

While the UK may have ended with only one World Series of Poker bracelet this year, the second half of the series still saw some great performances. Craig McCorkell was the longest lasting Brit in the Main Event, eventually finishing in a desperately unlucky 13th place. The $441k he won was right up there with Andrew Teng’s early result in the Millionaire Maker and Paul Newey’s min-cash in the Big One for One Drop – worth a whopping $1.4m – in the UK’s most impressive results.

However there was one Brit who flew out to Vegas to play just two tournaments and ended up stealing some of the spotlight. He is someone who has managed to fly under the radar for the majority of his hugely successful career, quietly filed away in a draw marked ‘best players you may never have heard of’. A PLO specialist, it came as no surprise to those who have played against him that Javed Abrahams would make such a deep run in the $10k Pot Limit Omaha championship event. He eventually finished second and netted himself $570k before leaving Vegas as quietly as he’d entered. Though he wouldn’t shun an interview like Daniel Colman, Abrahams certainly doesn’t chase the limelight like many top pros do. Educated at Eton and later at Cambridge, he is certainly one of the more mysterious characters on the UK poker scene. If we could just get a closer look there would probably be much to learn for all of us.

A helping hand

Not everyone can make it to Vegas (sad face) but fortunately there are so many quality events on the UK calendar that there is plenty of choice for everyone. One of the first events back in the UK was the Genting Poker Series in Newcastle, where Tim Chung came out on top. Anyone who has played in these tournaments over the past couple of years will be surprised by the fact that it has taken until now for Tim to take down his inaugural title, with the £32,815 easily being Tim’s biggest tournament score to date. A cash game player by trade, Tim has taken to tournaments extremely well and is never a face you want to see greeting you at the table. I have tried to help him win one of these events before now, with a spectacular dusting off of my Day 2 stack in 2012 instantly coming to mind. My gift was no doubt gratefully received – he went on to finish ninth – but for a player of his ability, it certainly wasn’t necessary!

The Sky’s the limit

This year’s UK schedule was even stronger with the addition of the first UK Poker Championships in February. The £500k GTD main event, along with its strong line-up of side events, was one of the best festivals staged in the UK in recent years. By the time you read this its follow up, the UKPC 6-Max championship, will have been and gone. Everything points to this tournament being another huge success. I’m just glad that after my early bath in February, my upcoming wedding [congratulations Karl! – Ed] will save me from a repeat performance this time around. 

I have been lucky enough to do some work with the guys at Sky Poker in the last few months and they have some great ideas for the game, including hosting the PokerPlayer Grand Prix. It’s no surprise to me that, in an industry that is struggling, Sky Poker continues to grow with this type of attitude.

True gent

It would be remiss of me to pen a British poker column without mentioning the extremely sad passing of Kirit Patel in July. Kirit was a regular fixture in a wide variety of UK events in recent years, and anyone connected with the UK poker community on social media will have seen the overwhelming response to the news. While not a close friend of mine, he would always wish my fiancée Amy and I well and you won’t find anyone who ever had a bad word to say against him.

I remember playing a super-interesting hand with him once at a GUKPT event. He cleverly managed to hide behind a squeaky tight image but behind the scenes there were all sorts of moves going on. He was a true gent who will be sorely missed on the UK poker scene.

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