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888.com UK Poker Open

by 'Mad Marty' Wilson |  Published: Dec 01, 2006

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Now in its third year, this annual televised poker tournament has concluded, crowning a new champion.

With 12 days of filming ahead, I had been looking forward to this event. As always, there was a great atmosphere, which continued from filming in the studios back to the hotel. The poker action was nonstop, with games being played in the green room amongst the guests and supporters of those playing in the event itself, and at the hotel, where players, friends, and those working on the show played endless sit-and-gos all night.

There seemed to be several threads running through this year's event. Firstly, many seasoned television tournament players broke their televised poker duck to win their heat, including Dave Clayton, Simon Zach, Dave Gregory, Jon "skalie" Kalmar, and Kevin O'Connell. Also, there were online qualifiers whose first live poker win had been "in the sit-and-go last night." And those who were working all 12 days straight and knew the Irish would be in town for the second week stocked up on early nights.

After watching countless hours of this sixhanded structure, it became apparent that the winner of each heat would come from the "who wants it most" category. Of course, it can also be said that the best players either go out first or win, after making their own arrangements. The semifinalists this year won their way through with a range of playing tactics.

Our own commentator, Padraig Parkinson, forced his way through with an "I'll take them on" attitude, and did so, disposing of every opponent, including bracelet winner Praz Bansi, despite not picking up a hand.

Skalie and Roland De Wolfe forged their way through by having an aggressive player's dream run of cards and also the knowledge of how to play an early chip lead.

Robin Keston played the best poker of his televised career, only to meet Dave Clayton heads up, who was also playing his best game.

With a different feel to their games were Simon Zach and Theo Dalton. Zach admitted that he didn't want to exit as he has done previously, although at one point when fourhanded, this very passive heat seemed ready-made for his former aggressive manner.

Televised poker newcomer Theo Dalton had no easy introduction, sitting alongside former champion Matthew Stevens and professionals Marty Smith and the Devilfish. Add to this that the Devilfish played some of the best poker seen from him in this televised structure, and is definitely a player who's in form. However, Dalton held his nerve long enough to play heads up and get himself into a position to win.

The award for the most composed play has to go to online qualifier Daniel Clarke, who sat through a barrage of verbal taunts to arrive heads up against Antony Hardy, and won and lost the chip lead several times before winning and moving on to the semis.

However, it was Welsh satellite winner Hayden Griffith who provided the catchphrase of the tournament when calling Harry Demetriou's all-in bet when heads up with the line, "Well, if it's my day, it's my day."

Others moving through their heats to the semis were Jonny "Texas" Hewston, an opponent you wouldn't want to meet in a televised event, as he has never lost his first-round heat, Ian Cox, Tony Bloom, online qualifier Alan Parkinson, and Tony G's friend Marek Kolk.

There was 600,000 in chips in play in each of the three semifinals (I know, three semis?), and the top two from each progressed to the final with their chip stacks at the time the third player was knocked out. A different structure from the two previous years was in place at the final table. With 1.8 million in chips on the final table, the blinds began at 1,000-2,000. This, combined with the great play of each of the six finalists, Roland De Wolfe, Simon Zach, Dave Clayton, Alan Parkinson, Theo Dalton, and Marek Kolk, proved you can get great poker from a televised structure. It was just a shame that this final wasn't going out live. The eventual winner was Kolk, and the runner-up was Dalton. spade