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Challenge James - UKIPT Side Event Win

James Atkin

Things have been much like the new “Rush Poker” recently; the instant I have sorted something out, something else that needs dealing with pops-up. It seems that moving house is about as fun as 30 tabling $0.01/0.02 Limit Hold 'em with 50% of your own action. You would have thought winning a poker tournament would mean instant braggage, but it’s taken me over a month to get around to it this time!

Last month I travelled to the inaugural UKIPT event in Galway, Ireland. Having played a lot on PokerStars over the last few months, the launch of this tour really caught my eye, and I’d like to play as many of the events as possible.
Things didn’t exactly start off on a good omen. Having arrived at the airport in what I like to call “Dad time” (my Dad makes sure he sets off to catch a flight so that he would still make it if there were heavy traffic, bad weather, an alien invasion…), my flight was delayed over two hours. So not only was I going to be stuck in the airport for ages, it was going to make it touch and go whether I would make it on time for the €2000 Main Event. The Irish’s reputation for drinking was on full display when a gentleman had to be pulled off the plane as we eventually boarded, it seems he had spent the delay at the bar! Now I was going to be definitely late.

Challenge James - UKIPT Side Event Win 101

It was my first time travelling to Galway, and therefore my first time on a plane being dragged along by pigeons. Okay, I exaggerate…but it was certainly my first flight on a plane that had propellers. It was also the first time I had collected my baggage in a Garden Shed. Jokes aside, everything was very efficient after the initial delays.

Still, I had been sweating getting there on time for most of the flight. Grabbing a taxi at 4.02pm with the tournament starting at 4pm I knew it was a bit of a long shot! Still, with hour-long levels I knew it shouldn’t be a big deal. I took my seat half way into level one, a little flustered, but soon composed myself and was ready to play some poker!

The tournament was held in a Radisson Blu hotel, with all the tables together in a large function room with several large projectors reminding you that you are below-average chips. I was a little surprised to see only 259 entries to this event. With Pokerstars’ backing I was expecting this event to nearly sell out with a 400 player cap, but perhaps this was a result of them choosing a bit of a random first location, and a larger buy-in than the other events. I expect the Manchester leg in February to be a sell-out.

This was one of those tournaments where I felt “in the zone” when I was playing. I was cruising along, accumulating chips; now holding double the starting stack as I was moved to my 3rd table of the day at around the 300/600 level. About three hands in, I called a 2.5x raise out of the big blind with J9. When the flop fell TQK with two hearts, I figured it was going to be one of those days where everything just went right. I even managed to get all my chips on the flop, so was pretty damn happy about things…until the guy flipped AJ and I was out.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr, its cold near the Irish Coast in December!

I’m not sure if anyone else gets this feeling, but when I bust in a big live tournament, all I want to do is go home. Even though you know you are going home with nothing 80-90% of the time, it still really sucks. Perhaps that’s because playing a live tournament is such a commitment compared with playing online. Anyway, the €500 side event rolled around, and it would be rude not to give it a shot.

Before I go into that, I have to mention somewhere in this column that in the dinner break, I discovered that they put cucumber in the jugs of water at this hotel. Apparently it’s not an Irish thing as I asked a couple of the locals about it. When I first tasted the water and saw this green wedge bobbing, I thought the lime had gone off, but no, it’s cucumber! How random!

I felt I was continuing my “in the zone” play from the main event. Perhaps this is a false feeling given to you when the cards are going your way, or you are running good, but nevertheless I was having a good time playing, and had a steady stack most of the way through the tournament.

Having knocked a guy out in 10th with AK vs 44, I was a slight chip-leader going into the final table. It had been a while since I was in this position in a live tournament, recent exploits in live tournaments had seen me nursing a short-stack, and people joking that I couldn’t handle a chip-stack if I had an ‘M’ of more than 4! But almost straight away it felt like this tournament might fall out of my hands, as I got it in with AQs vs JQ, and villain made quad Jacks!

Soon after though I managed to trap the slightly-crazy Chinese kid to give me back some chips, and knocked out a couple of the shorter stacks. Going into four-handed play we all had pretty even chips stacks. I felt the 3 remaining players were strong players, especially one of the guys who I made friends with sitting next to him for the latter stages before the final table. Fortunately he was knocked out by one of the others in 4th, and three handed I was fortunate enough to pick up QQ in the small blind against the button’s 88 and have it hold up.

Heads-up I won a pivotal pot with KTs, getting three streets of value after flopping a flush draw with 2 overs on the flop, pairing my ten (which was top pair) on the turn, and bet the brick river. He won a coin-flip to get back in it, but we inevitably got all the chips in on a King high board with me holding KJ vs his K9 to give me the win.

It was my first live tournament victory, and it felt pretty awesome. I have had a fair amount of final tables in the last four years, but have been looking for that elusive 1st to spruce up my Hendon Mob Database page. It would have been nice if it would have spruced up my new house as well, but sadly PokerStars couldn’t stump up a trophy, which was a little disappointing!


Whenever I bust on a final table, I always say I would leave a tip if I won the tournament. So it felt good to have to think about how much to leave the dealers. I even gave the chap who I bust in 3rd a lift home from the airport!

What do you think?

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