The Amateur Poker Association & Tour (APAT) held its fifth event in its first season live series, the Irish Amateur Poker Championship in Dublin, on 2nd-3rd June. The event had 150 entries, who qualified by a mix of live and online satellites and member draw. The players were again offered a £75 freeze-out with 10,000 starting chips, a slow clock and significant added value from tour sponsors PokerStars.com via the form of entry into an EPT Season Four event worth $8,000 to the winner in addition to their cash prize, trophy, medal and Player of the Year ranking points.
With the Player of the Year race only having three live events remaining, all the leading participants were present as they battled for the exciting prize, entry into the PokerStars.com sponsored WPT Caribbean Adventure Tournament in early 2008.
Play began at 2.30pm on the first day and early chip leaders included Dave Compton and Bob Taylor, Taylor being paid off with Quad Kings in a 16,000 pot on the second level to move to 26,000 with the blinds still 50-100. Also more than doubling their chip-stacks early on were Stephen Bayliff and Jim Owen. Local qualifiers Scott Prendiville and Neil Murphy were looking solid and Matt Doyle benefitted from flopping a flush against a set to move ahead.
Aisling Collins, one of over twenty ladies in the field, then eliminated Dewi James with AA versus KK to move towards the head of the field. Rankings leader Mark Donnelly then had a rush, moving to 45,000 with a double-up with a set of jacks on the flop against a set of twos and David Jones from Telford became the first player over the 50,000 mark with set over set and then a flopped straight against a missed nut flush draw with Donnelly progressing to chip leader at the dinner break.
Moving into contention as Day One moved towards a close were Patrick Tochel, Brendan Hartnett, Paul Townsend and John McGill but the leader was Donnelly, taking out a succession of shorter-stacked players until the last level when his aggressive style saw him lose chips. Instead David Jones from Yorkshire was paid off with top set against top pair whilst the likes of Tochel, previous finalist Steve Lacy and Des Farrell gathered menacingly behind.
At the end of Day One 20 players advanced to the second day with the chip leaders as follows:
David Jones 135,500
Steve Lacey 113,500
Doc Farrell 112,000
Martyn Sharp 112,000
Patrick Tochel 110,500
Play from 20 down to the final table was brisk as with blinds at 2,000-4,000, stacks needed to consolidate before a lot of play was seen. Stephen Hourie from Dublin knocked out two players in one hand with 17 left when four-flushing the nut flush on the river, King of Spades in his hand.
Sadly for him Mark Donnelly bubbled in 10th, though still securing valuable player of the year points whilst the key pots occurred with 12 players left. Patrick Tochel got into a raising war on a K xx flop, unraised, with KQ versus Steve Lister's KJ. It held through the streets to make him chip leader. Meanwhile Brendan Hartnett found AA facing a short-stack all and Martin Zaffky's push all-in with AK, and it held to send him to the final second in chips.
The final table line up in seat order was as follows:
David Jones from Leeds 197,000
Patrick Tochel from Glasgow 367,000
Brendan Hartnett from Brighton 245,000
Stephen Hourie from Dublin 123,000
John McGill from Dublin 103,000
Jacques Kieft from Galway 119,000
Paul Townsend from Witney 189,000
Doc Farrell from Dublin 108,000
Brendan Byrne from Drogheda 80,000
blinds beginning at 4,000-8,000.
First to depart was Stephen Hourie, with AQ versus Townsend's 88 all-in pre-flop. In eighth was John McGill, with what he hoped was live cards against a bigger stacked big blind: Townsend again. Doc Farrell was in 7th trapped by David Jones when hitting a King top pair on the turn but Jones had flopped trip Queens already and checked the flop. In sixth Brendan Byrne's attempt to ladder short-stacked ended against Townsend (K3 versus A2)
Six handed Brendan Hartnett ran 99 into Kieft's QQ, no help to leave him with 3 big blinds left before he staged a remarkable recovery quadrupling his chip stack against the odds. At this stage Townsend, Kieft and Jones were moving ahead around the 400,000 chip mark against Tochel, 250,000 and the trailing Hartnett.
When Hartnett doubled through Jones with KK versus AJ he had over 200,000 again and it was once more a five horse race for the title. Two hands later Hartnett's KK held up against Townsend's QQ to complete a remarkalbe recovery: 30,000 to 380,000 chips in one level. When after a quiet level he had AA hold on against the flopped flush draw of Jones he rose to a 600,000 chip leader, knocking Jones to the felt.
With Tochel and Jones now short-stacked the irrepressible Bendan Hartnett continued to lay waste to his opponents. First he knocked out Tochel in 5th AQ versus K9 all in pre flop and then Jones A8 versus Q8, both blind on blind battles.
Three handed the payers reached the medal positions with chip-counts as follows:
Brendan Hartnett 720,000
Paul Townsend 420,000
Jacques Kieft 390,000
Three handed did not last long as Hartnett took AJ against Townsend's K 10, flopping a Jack with all the chips in pre-flop to enter heads-up with a big chip lead (2 to 1). This was brave play by Townsend, clearly going for the win and the EPT seat but losing out on his gamble.
For a long time the Heads Up battle was even, with comparatively few pots but with Kieft gradually clawing his way back to parity by virtue of greater re-raising aggression. The key hand occurred in an unraised pot with Kieft flopping top two pair, Hartnett turning the straight and the board pairing on the river to give Kieft full house over straight and a big chip lead. Hartnett recovered slightly, flopping trips and being paid on the river.
The final hand saw Kieft take 33 against Hartnett's KQ all-in pre flop. The 33 held to make Jacques Kieft the Irish Amateur poker champion, winning £3,000 and the EPT Season Four Seat.
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