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Poker in the Pub

Regional Finals

by Dave Brannan |  Published: Jan 01, 2007

Well, the first league came to its conclusion with more than 1,700 players playing for places in the regional finals. Our sponsor,, stumped up more than £3,000 worth of prizes for three finals in Exeter, London, and Nottingham. With so much support and interest from all over the country, it was important that we put on a series of great poker events, and they certainly didn't disappoint.

The lucky qualifiers from the Southwest and Wales were met by autumn sunshine as they entered Exeter en route to their regional final. The venue was the Zephyr Bar, and the menu consisted of bad beats, flushes, and general merriment all round.

Forty-seven players sat down at the start of the day, knowing that only one of them could walk away with the trophy and a place in the national finals next year. It was a cagey start for 45 of the players, but two of them had obviously been watching too much of Gus Hansen, and this gave us our first casualty after just one hand.

The focus of Poker in the Pub has always been on people having a good time, and as the day progressed, the atmosphere in the venue began to build. One table took particular pleasure in deriding the dealing of Adrian Hodder, and the cameraman took particular pleasure in filming the spectacle. However, Adrian showed that his poker play surpasses his dealing skills, as he eventually finished on the bubble in 10th place.

With five players left, it was time for the most exciting hand of the day, as two of the Swansea contingent went head-to-head, all in with pocket queens against J-10. It looked like the queens were going to hold up, as the flop brought a jack and two blanks. The room then erupted as the turn brought another jack, to leave trip jacks against two pair. Just when we thought we were down to the final four players, the river card was a queen, to make a full house right at the death.

For the duration of the final table, it was Mike Williams who held the initiative, but as the numbers dwindled, Ian Guy gradually brought himself into play. As the dust settled in an action-packed regional final, we were left with Mike head-to-head with Ian for the title. It was short and sweet for the Queens Arms player, and Mike Williams had to settle for second place. Ian Guy from Cornwall has one of the most impressive records in Poker in the Pub, having dominated the Queens Arms league. This form had continued throughout the Southwest regional and Ian was certainly a worthy winner.

Southwest Regional Final Results
1. Ian Guy, Queens Arms
2. Mike Williams, Manselton
3. Andwer Coghlin, Manselton
4. Lee James, Manselton
5. Greg Palmer, Manselton
6. Greg Bagwell, Zephyr Bar
7. Mike Sulillvan, Manselton
8. Rob Ankers, Zephyr Bar
9. Sarah Rowles, The Bush

Nottingham racecourse was the venue for the Midlands regional final, and with this being the largest region, a cracking tournament was in the offing. One hundred and fifty players had qualified for the Nottingham final, and my nervous excitement about running such a large event gradually turned to apprehension as more and more coaches ground to a halt in the car park. Luckily as the day progressed, my fears proved to be unfounded, as a fantastic day of poker began to unfold.

Dave Cain ran the day; however, a huge thanks also needs to go to his team of willing volunteers - namely Kay, Erika, Steph, Deb, Cathy, John, and Matt. Paul, Dave, and I managed to get the room set up in time. Due to a few last-minute additions, the registration process took a little longer than expected, and then the game was on. It was fantastic to see the room full of both familiar and new faces, eager to take as much from the day as possible. The lads from RAF Digby should get a mention, as they all made the extra effort to bring forward their annual shower and dress smartly; nice one. It was also great to see some of the landlords present, who have selflessly opened up the doors to their pubs and clubs to embrace the league for what it is - great fun and entertainment!

As the tournament progressed, players were steadily knocked out and the bad-beat stories were flowing as smoothly as the drinks at the bar. The railbirds grew in number, and so did the tension. This could have been any tournament for any amount of money; everyone wanted to win the trophy and one of the three places at the nationals. Then, almost before we knew it, the final-table stage was approaching. Unfortunately, despite some excellent play, we didn't have a lady at the final table, but the top three ladies - Tracey, Rachel, and Kay - should be applauded for their achievements.

Following a short break for photos, the final nine players started play surrounded by an enthusiastic and vocal audience. We all witnessed some excellent poker play, and despite the fact that this is a free-to-play league, there were some fantastic prizes. None of the players at the final table were going to walk away empty-handed, but who was going to scoop the top prize? Eventually, following some roller-coaster rides of all ins and river-card escapes, we had a winner. Congratulations to Al (Big Al) Burke from the Shoulder of Mutton Lincolnshire.

Midlands Regional Final Results
1. Al "Big Al" Burke
2. Jon "Rookie" Ridley
3. Phil "Dudman" Dudley
4. Spencer "Spenny" Wiley
5. Keith "Monkeynut" Bryan
6. Ian "Swenis" Sweno
7. Kyle "The Nuts" Joyce
8. Chris "The Pocket" Clewes
9. Chris "The Machine" Wells

The London regional was a slightly less grand affair compared to Nottingham racecourse, but it was enjoyed by all who attended. The aptly named Tournament Pub in Southwest London was the venue, as the top players took their seats to decide who would come out on top in the nation's capital.

Another tense day ensued, with several ladies showing that they were more than a match for any man. After seven hours of tight and skillful poker, we were left with John Oliver and Luke Bellord slugging it out heads up. John, from the "Bell and Buck," eventually battled through as the winner for a place in the national finals.

London Regional Final Results
1. John Oliver
2. Luke Bellord
3. Roger Woods
4. Lisa Oliver
5. Rik McMillan
6. Rachel Johnson
7. Sharan Pey
8. Danny Oliver
9. Tim Watson

As the sun slid below the London skyline at the end of a hectic weekend, it signified the conclusion of the first Poker in the Pub league. When the league started back in July, we had no idea of what to expect, but I can safely say that it exceeded all of our expectations. To acquire more than 1,700 players in just 12 weeks is a fantastic achievement, and now with the momentum we have, you can expect to see bigger and better things from the second league.

We made plenty of mistakes along the way, but that is what life is about. You give something a go, try your best, and then do better the next time. This is what we intend to do with Poker in the Pub. We are just happy that, overall, our players all had a great time and are looking forward to the next league - which started the following week, so here we go again! If you have a society, pub, club, or team that wants to join in the fun, contact us at spade