The Amateur Poker Association and Tour (APAT) rolled into Bewley's Hotel in Dublin this weekend for the Coral Irish Amateur Poker Championships. It was an historic event in that it marked the first time that an APAT Main Event was played as Pot Limit Omaha instead of the industry standard No Limit Hold'em.
The switch to four hole cards didn't put players off entering and 73 hopefuls parted company with €120 for 20,000 tournament chips (plus a further 20,000 thanks to the double chance element) and the cance to become an APAT champion.
Day 1 saw 14 levels of poker played and during that time all but 24 players fell by the wayside, their dreams of leaving Dublin smothered in glory dashed. The dream was most certainly still alive for Colin Wilson who amassed a stack of 251,000 by the time the tournament director called time on proceedings.
Also safely through to Day 2 were the likes of Anton Nesternko (244,500), Mark Furlong (222,000), Noel Mitchell (208,500), APAT regular Asa McGrath (172,000), Roy “The Boy” Brindley (100,000) and a short stacked Scott Gray (21,000).
Despite starting the day second-last in chips, Gray managed to navigate his way to the nine-handed final table, quite a remarkable achievement hen you consider the variance involved in Pot Limit Omaha. If the Gray's name rings a bell in your head it is because he finished fourth in the 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event – the one that Robert Varkonyi won – for a career-best score of $281,480.
2015 APAT Irish Amateur Poker Championship Main Event Final Table
First to fall at the final table was Northern Ireland's John Keown. He got his stack in with versus the of Eamon Kelly and when the board gave the latter a flush Keown was gone.
Following Keown the the cashier's desk were Richard Baker, followed by three eliminations in three hands; Roy Brindley busted then Colin Wilson and Rory Keogh.
Four-handed play lasted about an hour before Colm Faulkner found himself all-in with and Eamon Kelly called the six-bet with , a loose call rewarded with a board that improved him to two pair.
Third place, and a bronze medal, went to Anton Nesternko, which left Gray to battle with Kelly for the title and the coveted gold medal.
Gray went into the heads-up stage trailing two-to-one in chips, but he played the more aggressive of the two, drew level and then pushed in front himself.
The final hand saw all of the chips go in on a flop, Kelly holding and Gray the . Those kings held as an ace fell on the turn and a meaningless ace on the river, busting Kelly and leaving Gray to be crowed amateur champion of Ireland.
2015 APAT Irish Amateur Poker Championship Main Event Final Table Results
In addition to his gold medal and €2,050 cash haul, Gray also secured a seat to the World Championship Of Amateur Poker (WCOAP) Main Event that takes place at Aspers Stratford in London between March 28 and April 6.