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Rapinder Cheema Is the UKIPT5 London Main Event Champion

Rapinder Cheema

Until around 10:15 p.m. on January 25, Rapinder Cheema's Hendon Mob page only featured one live tournament cash, a fourth place finish in the 2012 Christmas Cracker in Luton for a modest £320. Now, thanks to outlasting a 726-strong field in the UKIPT5 London Main Event, Cheema can brag about having a massive £78,825 score too.

Twenty-six players returned to the Hippodrome Casino at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday 25 January and within almost exactly four hours of play those 26 were reduced to the final table of eight.

Ross Boatman was the first of the returning players to fall and he was followed to the cashier's desk by such talent as Andy Black (24th for £2,730), Chaz Chattha (22nd for £3,230), Richard Milner (17th for £4,230), Chuck Clark (13th for £5,250), and Jamie O'Connor (12th for £5,250).

UKIPT5 London Main Event Final Table

1Paul Simmons1,840,000
2Christopher Yong3,510,000
3Lawrence Bayley1,930,000
4Martin Hanham1,805,000
5Brett Angell910,000
6Rapinder Cheema3,590,000
7Fernando Marin4,055,000
8Joakim Sorensen715,000

The eight finalists were still feeling each other out when the short stacked Joakim Sorensen found {a-Clubs}{j-Hearts} under the gun and moved all in. Paul Simmons was in the next seat along and he re-shoved with the dominating {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts}, which folded out the other active players. The {k-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{2-Diamonds} left Sorenesen needing running jacks, so when the {4-Hearts} landed on the turn it was game over for the Swede. The {q-Spades} completed the board and Sorensen was gone in eighth place.

Twenty minutes later, Brett Angell's dream of winning back-to-back titles ended. Angell pushed all-in for 890,000 chips from the button with {q-Spades}{8-Clubs} only to be looked up by Cheema in the small blind with {a-Hearts}{10-Clubs}. Angell was drawing dead on the flop thanks to it falling {10-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{a-Clubs}, rendering the {4-Clubs} turn and {6-Clubs} river meaningless.

It took another two hours of play before the final table lost another player. Simmons was down to around 15 big blinds and he moved all-in from the cutoff. Lawrence Bayley, in the small blind, asked for a count before moving all-in over the top. The big blind folded and the {6-}{6-} of Bayley were racing against the {a-Hearts}{7-Clubs} of Simmons, a race they would ultimately win when the five community cards ran {8-Diamonds}{4-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{4-Spades}{q-Diamonds}.

As the blinds increased to 50,000/100,000/10,000a, Christopher Yong's tournament came to an end. Cheema made it 200,000 to play from under the gun with the powerhouse hand that is {k-}{k-} and then called when Yong three-bet jammed for 14 big blinds with what turned out to be {a-}{9-}. Cheema essentially locked up the hand on the {k-Diamonds}{6-Spades}{3-Diamonds} flop, the {9-Clubs} and {5-Spades} being the turn and river cards.

As the clocks turned to 7:30 p.m in London, the final table lost one of its sharks. Bayley, a Supernova Elite for the past two years at PokerStars, saw Cheema open to 250,000 and decided the best way to play {3-Diamonds}{3-Clubs} was to re-raise all-in for 1,750,000. It's a move that would often work, but not when Cheema had been dealt {10-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. Cheema called and his tens held on the {9-Clubs}{5-Spades}{7-Clubs}{10-Spades}{7-Spades} board, leaving only three players in contention for the title of champion.

Those three became two 75-minutes later when Martin Hanham fell at the hands of Fernando Marin. Cheema folded on the button, Marin set Hanham all-in for his 1,800,000 chips and Hanham called, turning over {8-Diamonds}{8-Clubs} as he did so. Marin showed {a-Diamonds}{9-Diamonds} and instantly got there on the {9-Hearts}{3-Hearts}{3-Clubs} flop. The {q-Clubs} turn failed to alter the course of the hand and neither did the {4-Hearts} river. Hanham busted and heads-up was set.

Cheema went into the heads-up battle with Marin trailing by 13,885,000 to 4,970,000 chips and the runner-up prize of £58,000 looked set to be heading home with him. However, before the one-on-one section commenced, the last two standing players flattened the payout structure, locking up £63,825 Cheema, £74,275 for Marin and leaving £15,000 for the eventual champion.

After clawing his way back level, a huge hand went down that saw Cheema all but crowned champion. Cheema raised to 530,000 on the button with {a-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds} and Marin moved all-in for 9,350,000 with {a-Spades}{7-Diamonds}. Cheema took the lead on the {9-Clubs}{8-Diamonds}{2-Spades} flop and stayed there on the {3-Diamonds} turn and {k-Clubs} river, leaving Marin with a paltry two big blinds.

Those handful of chips went into the middle on the very next hand with {9-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} and Cheema made the call with {6-Hearts}{6-Spades}. Both players smashed into the {6-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds}{9-Clubs} flop, but Cheema was a still ahead. The {8-Hearts} turn was one pip away from saving Marin and when the {2-Clubs} completed the board, Cheema had won the first leg of the UKIPT Season 5.

UKIPT5 London Main Even Final Table Results

1Rapinder Cheema£78,825*
2Fernando Marin£74,275*
3Martin Hanham£41,000
4Lawrence Bayley£31,000
5Christopher Yong£24,600
6Paul Simmons£18,600
7Brett Angell£13,300
8Joakim Sorensen£9,138

*reflects a heads-up deal

Next up for the UKIPT is a trip to Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham. This leg runs from April 13 through April 20 and features a massive £1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool. As always, the only way to qualify for the UKIPT5 Nottingham Main Event is at the world's largest online poker site, PokerStars.

Lead image courtesy of Mickey May and the PokerStars Blog

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