Karl Mahrenholz reflects on a great month for British poker

Karl Mahrenholz: The past month has seen a packed tournament schedule, both live and online, and UK players have continually shown up with extremely strong results. Online saw a UK one-two in the High Roller event on French site Winamax. David Barraclough and Ryan Spittles chopped up over €130k between them and they weren’t the only UK one-two in major tournaments this month. I counted nine UK winners so far in the popular WCOOP series. Well-known names in the winner’s circle included Toby Lewis, Stephen Chidwick, Dave Shallow and Ben Grundy. Toby’s heads-up opponent is also based in the UK although I’m not sure we can claim Sergi Reixach as one of our own, especially judging by the boy’s twitter feed… those nine winners bagged over $1.2 million between them and that’s not including some very chunky second place finishes for other British players (one alone for over $480k!)

Without wanting to turn this piece into a vidiprinter, the top results for UK players have just kept coming. Luke Fields won the mini FTOPS main event for $118k and Rhys Jones won two events in the same festival within a week, also securing him the player of the series award. Congrats guys – now try winning something really big…. 

In the real world

Enough button bashing you say? How about some live poker? That’s just what Sunny Chattha and Jeff Kimber were thinking as they boarded the GUKPT train to Manchester this past week. I have to say when the schedule was announced I was a little critical of the ‘conservative’ guarantees put on the £1k main events but this event obviously proved the organisers right, at least for the legs outside London. The event ended up with a £20k overlay, which at one point was looking like being considerably larger. You don’t get a shout out in this column for being the UK’s most successful poker backer without knowing value when you see it and cue a tweet from Mr Toby Lewis inviting applicants for a freerolled entry into said overlay-ridden event. Sunny quickly tweeted how likely it was that one of these new-found horses would win the event but it seems he took it into his own hands to make sure they didn’t…. 

Fast forward to a rainy Sunday night in Manchester and Sunny and Jeff were rolling back the years as they faced off heads-up. Sunny, a previous champion in 2009, and Jeff in 2008 (and at the same venue) showed that while the game moves on the best players are those who can adapt. Sunny not only emerged with the title, but also the prize for the most ridiculous winner’s photo to date. Congrats! 

Get involved

If you feel inspired by any of these results and fancy getting in on the action yourself then luckily there’s plenty going on. The monstrous UKIPT and EPT festivals start in October across London and on top of that the ever-popular Irish Winter Festival also takes place at the end of October. The latter I would particularly encourage people to get involved in. There are many great players who have come from Ireland over the years and lots of great young Irish players at the moment.

However I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn to say that a €1k tournament in Ireland is significantly softer than ones you’ll find in England. If you are looking for one tournament to pick for October, this would be my choice. I’ve made sure Poker Encore is involved in the satellites for this and we still have three different satellites every week to bag yourself a seat – hopefully I’ll see some of you there. 

One of the places I might not be seeing you at – at least in its current guise – is Dusk Till Dawn (DTD). Owner Rob Yong has said he will quit the business if his latest push at ‘live style’ cash games online fails to take off. With the wounds of the substantial overlay in the recent ISPT event not yet healed it’s clear that DTD has been a labour of love for Rob. There’s been a great range of tournaments on offer since the club opened and it’s widely thought of as the premier destination for live poker in the UK.

The online landscape however is much more competitive and without having your own standalone platform you are at the mercy of the network operator to implement new features and maintain a high quality of service. It’s hard for DTD to match the quality of their live club online. We can only speculate what will happen to the club should things not work out for Rob but you’d have to think it’s likely a big red spade would soon be along to dig them out of trouble. Whether that would be a good thing or not for the UK poker community remains to be seen but there could be interesting times ahead. 

Karl Mahrenholz writes every month for PokerPlayer magazine, available online here.

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