The penultimate leg of the 2014 Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) is over and it is Justin Astley who has his hands on the winner's trophy and £59,000, a score eclipsing his previous best of £11,000 that he won in August 2014.
Sunday's Day 3 began with 17 players in contention for the GUKPT Blackpool title, but the field grew ever smaller with the eliminations of Darren Naylor, Alex Lindop, Alan McLean, Mark Kelsall, Lee Tatters and Dave Seagar to leave only 11 players in the hunt for the £59,000 first place prize.
Those 11 became 10 with the exit of the reigning champion Rick Trigg four-and-a-half hours into proceedings.
Dan Kneafsey moved all-in from the button and Trigg called off his 200,000 stack (blinds were 8,000/16,000/2,000a) from the big blind with . Kneafsey flipped over and the most likely outcome was a double for Trigg. That was until the flop fell to leave Trigg drawing to one of the three remaining aces. The on the turn meant Trigg was now drawing dead, rendering he river meaningless.
Not long after Trigg busted, John Miller committed his stack, as you would too, with and was delighted to see Martin Paul call with . Miller's elation soon turned to despair as the board ran to gift Paul an unlikely flush and reduce the tournament to its final table.
2014 GUKPT Blackpool Main Event Final Table
Kev Steele was the first casualty of the final table, three-betting all-in for 308,000 after Martin Paul opened to 35,000. James Mitchell called the all-in bet and showed after Paul ducked out of the way. Mitchell's queens were way ahead of Steele's and stayed that way through the board.
Twenty-minutes after Steele bust, Paul followed him to the sidelines. Now short stacked, Paul made a move against Kneafsey on the flop, but moves don't tend to work when your opponent is laying in waiting with a set! Game over for Paul.
Carl Harris was next to see his dreams of winning turn into a nightmare. Kneafsey raised to 40,000 and Mitchell three-bet to 90,000. Harris looked down at and four-bet jammed for 228,000 in total. Kneafsey folded and Mitchell tossed in calling chips, showing the less-than-stellar as he did so.
Mitchell's call was rewarded with a flop, a turn and river, sending Harris home in seventh place.
Almost immediately after that hand, Alan Barnacle had his queen cracked by when the latter flopped trips, and he got the rest of his stack in holding and being looked up by Fabian Towers and his . An eight on the board was enough to win the hand for Towers and the tournament was left with five players.
During the 12,000/24,000/3,000a level, Towers raised to 80,000 with and Mitchell came over the top with an all-in bet, putting Towers to the sword for his 350,000 stack. Towers decided his eights were good and called, only to discover Mitchell had shoved with and had him crushed. The community cards didn't even hint at helping Towers and he was toppled.
With four players remaining, Mitchell was many poker fan's favourite to win, not least because of his vast experience in the tournament poker world. However, it wasn't meant to be and Mitchell finished fourth.
Kneafsey opened, Mitchell stuck in another three-bet and then called off his 500,000 chips when Kneafsey set him all-in. It was one of tournament poker's many coinflip scenarios, Mitchell holding and Knefsey .
Those pocket eights held true as the board came into view, and Mitchell was on his way home.
Mitchell's seat hadn't even gone cold when Phil Walker joined him on the sidelines, perhaps even at the bar. Walker had battled as a short stack all afternoon and eventually came unstuck when he pushed his chips into the middle from the small blind with and Astley called with the dominating . The flop gave Walker some hope and the turn was only one pip away, but the on the river was the last card he wanted to see as it busted him in third place and sent the tournament into the heads-up stage.
Astley trailed Kneafsey by 828,000 to 2,592,000 chips going into heads-up and, for many, it looked like a forgone conclusion. However, Astley managed to claw his way back into contention before soaring into was turned out to be an unassailable lead.
The final hand of the 2014 GUKPT Blackpool Main Event saw Kneafsey move all-in for 10 big blinds with and Astley look him up with the superior . Astley paired his ace in the window of the flop, stayed ahead on the turn and became the tournament's champion with the arrival o the on the river.
2014 GUKPT Blackpool Main Event Final Table Results
Fans of the GUKPT don't have long to wait for their next fix as the Grand Final, and its £400,000 guarantee, begins on Thursday 27 November. Until then, congratulations to Justin Astley, the 2014 GUKPT Blackpool champion.
Lead image courtesy of the GUKPT Blog