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Laurence Houghton Wins the WPT National London Main Event

Laurence Houghton

It has been somewhat of a whirlwind start to 2014 for professional poker player Laurence Houghton. First he and his long-term girlfriend Natalia became parents to a beautiful baby girl in late January and now he has won the first major live title of his illustrious career.

Houghton, better-known to many as his online alias “rivermanl,” is one of the most successful online poker tournament grinders of all time. With over $5.5 million in online winnings, there are few who can match Houghton in terms of money won. Online, Houghton has 91 career victories yet until Sunday night he had never won a major live tournament. Quite remarkable when you think about it.

The final day of the partypoker World Poker Tour National UK Main Event started with 24 players returning to the Aspers Casino Stratford on Sunday, each hoping to go all the way and secure the £27,500 first place prize and the title of champion for themselves. Some 3.75 hours after play resumed Yilfer Sheveet’s {K-Diamonds}{K-Spades} lost to the {8-Diamonds}{8-Hearts} of David Gassian with the chips going in on a {9-Clubs}{5-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds}{8-Spades} board. The river failed to come to Sheveet’s rescue and he crashed out of the tournament in 10th place. This meant the nine-handed final table was set, with the nine finalists lining up as so:

1Arvin Ravindran2,150,000
2Laurence Houghton1,420,000
3Davod Gassian5,790,000
4Gareth Holt685,000
5Bobbie Brummitt1,845,000
6Steve Owens370,000
7James Mitchell635,000
8Chaz Chatta1,070,000
9Edjis Cergars480,000

One of the big names at the final table was the first player out of the door as the final table got underway. Short-stacked Steve Owens moved all-in for 250,000 from middle position and the 2010 Irish Open champion James Mitchell three-bet all-in for around 600,000 to isolate him. The next four players folded, but Gareth Holt called and covered Mitchell by 100,000 chips.

Owens: {4-Hearts}{4-Diamonds}
Mitchell: {K-Diamonds}{Q-Spades}
Holt: {A-Diamonds}{K-Spades}

Holt shot into the lead upon the arrival of the {5-Clubs}{2-Hearts}{A-Hearts} flop, leaving Mitchell drawing to running cards in order to stay in the tournament. The {2-Clubs} turn was a complete blank for all three players and a double elimination looked the most likely outcome. That was until the {3-Diamonds} landed on the river to improve Owens to a five-high straight, trebling his stack, slashing the stack of Holt and sending Mitchell to the rail in ninth place.

A couple of hands later and Mitchell was joined on the sidelines by Edjis Cergars. Down to 240,000 chips and with the blinds and antes set at 20,000/40,000/5,000a, it as unsurprising to see Cergars open-ship his stack into the middle with the {K-Clubs}{10-Clubs} in his hand. Instead of winning the blinds and antes, Cergars picked up a caller in the shape of Arvin Ravindran and his {J-Spades}{8-Spades}. To jacks on the {J-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{6-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds} board were more than enough to win the pot for Ravindran and the tournamrnt had lost two players in quick succession.

Owens must have used up all of his luck in Mitchell’s exit hand because he was the next player to fall by the wayside, finishing in seventh place. Owens looked down at {5-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} and moved all-in for 385,000 chips. Chaz Chattha called with the far superior {10-Clubs}{10-Spades} toput Owens at risk. The {K-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}{8-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}{6-Diamonds} kept Chattha’s tens in front and Owens busted.

Next to go was Bobbie Brummitt who, in addition to £5,540 in prize money, also picked up a £1,000 package to the partypoker WPT National UK Newcastle Main Event in May for being the last partypoker qualifier in the tournament! Brummitt came unstuck when the chips went piling into the middle of a board reading {J-Clubs}{9-Spades}{8-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}, Brummitt holding {K-Hearts}{K-Spades} but Gassian had flopped a straight with the {Q-Clubs}{10-Hearts}.

As the blinds increased to 30,000/60,000/10,000a, the last five players in the competition discussed the possibility of a deal, although the terms could not be agreed on and play resumed with the payut schedule in its original guise.

This meant that when Gassian was eliminated in fifth place – his {K-Hearts}{J-Hearts} failed to get there against Houghton’s {A-Spades}{9-Hearts} – he picked up a still respectable £6,900 for his efforts instead of something far more substantial.

Four became three soon after thanks to a horrible beat for the popular Chattha. The action folded to Chattha in the small blind and he opened with a raise, a raise that was called by Ravindran. The duo watched on as the dealer spread the {A-Hearts}{4-Spades}{10-Hearts} flop. Chattha then opted to check-call a bet from his sole opponent. The turn was another Broadway card, namely the {K-Clubs} and Chattha checked again. Ravindran fired out a much larger bet and then quickly called when Chattha check-raised all-in for 3 million chips! Ravindran was in terrible shape because his {A-Diamonds}{4-Hearts} that looked so strong on the flop was now crushed by the {K-Clubs}{K-Spades} in the hand of Chattha. After burning a card the dealer flipped an ace onto its back, improving Ravindran to an unlikely full house and leaving Chattha to wonder what could have been. Had Chattha won that pot, Ravindran would surely have finished fourth and Chattha would have been a significant favourite to have left Aspers Casino as a champion. Ouch.

Chattha’s seat hadn’t even gone cold when Darren Holt shoved with {J-}{5-} and Houghton looked him up with the dominating {A-}{J-}. Neither player improved by the river, leaving Houghton’s ace-kicker to scoop the pot, bust Holt and take the tournament into the heads-up stage.

Houghton went into the one-on-one battle with a 7.7 million to 6.6 million chip advantage over Ravindran, but his vast experience was like having an extra couple of million chips at his disposal. Despite that, Ravindran manage to win a few early pots to draw level and then take the lead, but one hand flipped the tournament back into Houghton’s favour.

The hand in question saw Ravindran bet 500,000 on the {2-Hearts}{4-Spades}{J-Spades}{K-Clubs} board and Houghton raise to 1 million. Ravindran responded with a 2.3 million bet, which in turn saw Houghton move all-in for 6.7 million. Ravindran eventually folded and claimed to have {A-Spades}{10-Spades}, which was the best hand because Houghton flopped over {Q-Hearts}{10-Hearts} for nothing but an open-ended straight draw.

Ravindran clawed his way back in front again before a huge pot went Houghton’s way when his {Q-Clubs}{7-Clubs} improved to a flush on the turn of a {5-Clubs}{J-Spades}{10-Clubs}{8-Clubs}{3-Spades} board, Houghton having a river-shove paid off. That hand gave Houghton a 10.2 million to 4.2 million chip lead and the writing was on the wall for Ravindran.

Shortly after that big hand it was all over. Houghton had constantly attacked Ravindran and the latter was left nursing a 10 big blind stack. That stack went into the middle whilst holding {7-Spades}{6-Clubs} and Houghton called with {K-Clubs}{Q-Hearts}. The {4-Hearts}{J-Hearts}{9-Diamonds} flop was not what Ravindran needed, and neither was the {K-Diamonds} turn because it locked up the tournament for Houghton. The {10-Clubs} river made Houghton an unnecessary straight and the title of partypoker WPT National UK London champion was his.

partypoker WPT National UK London Final Table Results

1Laurence Houghton£27,500
2Arvin Ravindran£19,400
3Darren Holt£12,500
4Chaz Chattha£9,300
5David Gassian£6,900
6Bobbie Brummitt£5,540
7Steve Owens£4,610
8Edjis Cergars£3,680
9James Mitchell£2,760

Lead image courtesy of the partypoker blog, taking by the excellent Alin Ivanov

Next up for the popular fledgling tour is a trip up the A1 to Newcastle during the May Bank Holiday. Qualifiers are already running in the partypoker lobby and start at an affordable $1.65.

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