2021 World Series of Poker

Driton Haxhiaj Helps Himself to the GUKPT Luton Title After Four-Way Chop

Driton Haxhiak

Driton Haxhiaj is the latest name written into the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) history books after he topped a stellar field in the £1,070 Luton Main Event. Haxhiaj won £42,750 for his victory, a sum that would have been even more substantial had there not being a four-way deal struck late into proceedings.

The third and final day’s play began at 1:00 p.m on Sunday with 12 players and almost 11 hours later with Haxhiaj basking in the glory. Between those two polar opposites, there was plenty of poker played, most of it at a frantic pace.

Almost an hour into the day and Ben Miller busted at the hands of Haxhiaj. Miller committed his chips with pocket tens and Haxhiaj called with {a-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}. The heart in Haxhiaj’s hand turned out to be important because the board four-flushed with hearts to send Miller to the rail in 12th place.

Paul Alterman followed Miller to the rail 15-minutes later to leave the tournament on the final table bubble and played hand-for-hand. The final table bubble boy was Neil McCulloch who made a play with only {7-Clubs}{5-Clubs} on a {k-Diamonds}{k-Spades}{6-Hearts}{8-Clubs}{6-Spades} board, only for Haxhiaj to make a remarkable call with queen-high! With McCulloch sent packing, the final table was set.

GUKPT Luton Main Event Final Table

1Dean Clay313,500
2Carlo Citrone352,500
3Joe Laming292,000
4Sin Melin887,500
5Mitch Johnson609,500
6Danny Toffel144,000
7Iqbal Ahmed1,067,500
8Driton Haxhiaj1,340,000
9Caicai Huang322,000

Blinds at the final table started at 6,000/12,000/1,500a

Two hours passed before the final table lost its first player, Mitch Johnson being the first casualty. Johnson pinned his tournament life on the {k-Spades}{10-Hearts} from the button and was unfortunate to run into the {a-Spades}{q-Clubs} of the hot-running

Iqbal Ahmed

. The {4-Clubs}{7-Spades}{j-Hearts} flop failed to come to Johnson’s aid, but the {k-Clubs} on the turn gifted him top pair and the lead in the hand. After burning a card, the dealer placed the {10-Spades} onto the river, improving Ahmed to a hand-winning straight and sending a disappointed Johnson to the rail in ninth place.

The remaining eight players then went on a scheduled 15-minute break and within 10 minutes of the restart, Danny Toffel had lost his chips to Ahmed. Toffel only had 50,000 chips in his stack and he pushed them into the middle of the felt while holding {k-Spades}{10-Hearts}. Ahmed three-bet to 75,000 and everyone else folded. Ahmed showed {a-Clubs}{8-Spades}. By the river the board read {q-Diamonds}{8-Hearts}{9-Clubs}{3-Clubs}{7-Hearts} and Toffel’s tournament was over.

Woman Down!

Sin Melin was one of two women at the final table hoping to become the first female player to win a GUKPT Main Event, the other being Caicai Huang. Melin had endured a torrid time at the felt on Day 3 and despite starting the day as chip leader, Melin had to make do with seventh place money. Her tournament ended when she moved her last 180,000 into the middle with {q-Clubs}{j-Diamonds} and Ahmed called with {10-Spades}{8-Diamonds}, which improved to an unlikely flush on a {k-Spades}{a-Spades}{5-Spades}{q-Spades}{q-Hearts} board.

Joe Laming joined the busted players on the rail when his day went badly wrong over the course of two quick-fire hands. The first saw Laming call Dean Clay’s all-in bet with {a-Spades}{10-Spades} and lose out to the {a-Hearts}{j-Hearts} leaving him with around 100,000 chips, or five big blinds. These went into the middle during the next hand while holding {k-Hearts}{q-Hearts} and lost to the dominated {k-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} of Haxhiaj when the {5-Spades}{8-Clubs}{7-Spades}{k-Clubs}{9-Clubs} board gifted Haxhiaj a nine-high straight.

Citrone Feels the Wrath of Ace-King

Five became four with the exit of Carlo Citrone who like Laming before him, was despatched in two back-to-back hands. Citrone lost the majority of his stack when his {a-Clubs}{q-Diamonds} failed to get there against Huang’s {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts} and the rest of his decimated stack went over the betting line with the {a-Spades}{k-Hearts} in his hand, only for Huang’s {8-Diamonds}{8-Spades} to hold and bust Citrone.

Citrone’s chair had not even gone cold when the four remaining players paused the tournament and discussed a deal; with the blinds being large and the prizes on offer potentially life-changing nobody would blame them for guaranteeing themselves a better payout. Less than 10 minutes after negotiations had started, the players agreed upon a deal that saw Ahmed bank £50,000 and the other three payers £35,000 each. This left the GUKPT Grand Final seat the trophy and £15,500 to play for.

Haxhiaj got off to a flying start after the deal negotiations ended and quickly built a stack that challenged for the chip lead. That stack grew even larger when it absorbed the chips of Clay into it. Clay opened to 70,000, Haxhiaj three-bet to 170,000 and then called when Clay moved all in. Clay held {a-Hearts}{j-Clubs} and was in quite poor shape against the {k-Spades}{k-Diamonds} of Haxhiaj. It was game over for Clay by the turn of the {7-Hearts}{8-Spades}{5-Hearts}{k-Clubs}{a-Diamonds} board, Haxhiaj then had a stack of almost 2 million chips.

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Ahmed's Stack Decimated

Three-handed play failed to throw up any major hands until the clock read almost 10:30 p.m. A hand worth the wait took place that saw Haxhiaj all-in with {a-Clubs}{q-Hearts} against the {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds} of Ahmed. The first two cards onto the flop were the {a-Spades} and {a-Hearts}, with the third being a full house completing {q-Clubs}. Ahmed was drawing dead and when the {2-Diamonds} and {7-Clubs} completed the board, Ahmed was left with 400,000 chips while Haxhiaj soared to 3.6 million.

Ahmed was eliminated shortly after that hand when neither he nor Huang improved on a {j-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{3-Clubs} board with the chips going in preflop. Ahmed’s {k-Clubs}{q-Hearts} lost out to the {a-Diamonds}{2-Spades} to send the tournament into the heads-up stage.

Haxhiaj held a 3.6 million to 1.6 million chip advantage and it proved to be too large of a gap for Huang to bridge. Huang did fight back and that resulted in a second deal being agreed to where the players split the remaining prize money straight down the middle.

The final hand of the GUKPT Luton Main Event saw Huang re-raise all in on a {7-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{5-Spades} flop with what turned out to be {a-Clubs}{6-Hearts} only to discover Haxhiaj had flopped a straight with his {6-Clubs}{4-Spades}. Huang received no help on the turn or river and her hopes of becoming the first-ever female GUKPT Main Event winner lay in ruins, although she does now have the honour of being the highest-ever placed female player in a GUKPT Main Event.

GUKPT Luton Main Event Final Table Results

1stDriton Haxhiak£42,750*
2ndCaicai Huang£42,750*
3rdIqbal Ahmed£50,000*
4thDean Clay£35,000
5thCaro Citrone£14,150
6thJoe Laming£11,550
7thSin Melin£8,900
8thDanny Toffel£7,200
9thMitch Johnson£5,250

The GUKPT next heads to the seaside resort of Blackpool for the penultimate stop of the 2013 season. If the £1,070 buy-in is too steep for you, why not try and win your way to the GUKPT Blackpool Main Event at Grosvenor Poker? Download Grosvenor Poker via PokerNews and you can help yourself to a 100% match up to £500 first deposit bonus.

Lead image courtesy of the GUKPT Blog.

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