The Amateur Poker Association & Tour (APAT) held the second event of its second season, the UK Amateur Poker Championship in Manchester's G Casino, on 8th-9th December. The event had 200 entries plus alternates, who qualified by high finishes in the last round of APAT Regional Events, online satellites and direct payment. The players were again offered a £75 freeze-out with 10,000 starting chips, a slow clock, £3,500 to the winner plus significant added value from new tour sponsors BlueSquare.com via the form of entry into a GUKPT event in 2008 in London worth $2,000 to the winner in addition to their cash prize, trophy, medal and Player of the Year ranking points.
During Day One the field was whittled down over fourteen full levels, including a number of players exiting with cracked Aces and Kings in the early stages, to 23 players led by two chip-leaders with over 200,000 chips each: Simon Aukland and Rob Plaistow. Plaistow was already well placed when gifted a large amount of chips when he raised in the Big Blind with Kings and was set in on the flop by his opponent holding nothing but over-cards. Also in the top five chip-counts at the end of Day One were Lee Baron, Mark Hayter and Darren Dunn. Bottom of the 23 survivors, with 26,000 chips and thus a little over three big blinds' remaining, was Simon Turton of whom more later.
Day Two saw the run down to the final table and early on we lost English Amateur Champion Rich Offless at the hands of Plaistow, and Caroline Burgess. Mike Gale was well placed until he lost most of his stack running Queens into Hayter's Kings with fourteen players left. Almost all of the short-stacks at the beginning of the day had departed by the time Bob Ballou was knocked out on the final table bubble, the exception being the patient Turton who picking his spots well and doubling up several times had managed to reach the final table.
The Final Table line up was as follows:
Mark Hayter from Southampton 370,000
Rob Plaistow from Weston-Super-Mare 310,000
Graham Wills from Caerphilly 255,000
Lee Baron from Bradford 213,000
Kevin Davies from Cardiff 203,000
Stuart Hopkin from Nottingham 200,000
Simon Aukland from Solihull 191,000
Simon Turton from Huddersfield 151,000
Lee Smith from Huddersfield 134,000
Two players, Baron and Davies, had gained entry to the Championship via qualifying for £20 in APAT's regional Championships the month previously.
With blinds at the beginning of the final 6,000/12,000 players had plenty of play. However on the first hand fireworks began as Plaistow and Graham Wills were both all-in pre-flop with Aces and Kings respectively. The Aces held, Graham Wills departed in 9th and Plaistow became a big chip leader.
This lead was cemented over the coming hour as Plaistow knocked out the next two players. Next to go was Lee Baron in 8th when he flopped an Ace in the blinds having called a raise, Plaistow tried to push him off the pot with 99, only to hit trips on the turn. Lee Smith was knocked out in 7th in a blinds battle, flopping middle pair to Plaistow's top pair which again tripped up on the turn.
With Six players left Plaistow had nearly 50% of the chips in play (970,000) ahead of Hayter (300,000) and the four other players around 200,000 each. However he was soon to suffer his first reverse of the final when his Kings were beating by Aukland's K9 off, hitting a straight on the turn with Aukland all-in pre-flop.
Departing in Sixth was Mark Hayter, who lost a lot of chips in successive battles with Simon Turton, his pair of fours no match for Kevin Davies' Jacks. Then a key pot occurred for around 850,000 chips a classic race between Hopkin's Ace-King and Plaistow's pair of Jacks. A King flopped to catapult Hopkin up to the chip lead and felt Plaistow who exited in fifth shortly after.
Four handed Hopkin with 750,000 chips led from Turton (535,000), Davies (430,000) and Aukland (310,000). Aukland then noticeably became the most aggressive player at the table as he tried to get into contention for the top prize. This almost backfired when he found himself all in with A6 suited versus Davies' AK only to flop a Six. Aukland then faced an automatic call in the Big Blind of Davies' push with A8. He turned over 42 off-suit and rivered a 2 to eliminate Davies in 4th.
Simon Aukland was then eliminated in third with a pair of eight's in the Small Blind versus Turton's AK Spades in the Big blind which hit.
Heads Up began with Hopkin, a student, having a 1.2m to 800,000 chip lead over Turton. Momentum swung to-and-fro until the key hand arrived. Hopkin with A7 diamonds and flopped the nut flush draw and an over card versus Turton's top Pair (KQ) on a King high board in a raised pot. All the money went in on the flop and Hopkin missed to leave him with a large chip deficit. Turton administered the coup-de-Grace when finding A 10 diamonds to Hopkins' push moments later, which held.
Simon Turton of Huddersfield thus became the APAT UK Amateur Poker Champion for 2007 after a stunning recovery from Short-stack at the start of the day.
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