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Poker in the Pub Regional Finals - Two Steps From Vegas

by Dave Brannan |  Published: May 01, 2007

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After three months of tense, exciting, and occasionally drunken play, the regional finals for the second Poker in the Pub league had arrived. We held five regional finals in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Lincoln, and Exeter, with £5,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.

West Midlands Regional Finals
Birmingham was the location for the West Midlands final, and we could not have picked a better weekend, as heavy snow meant an eight-hour trip from Lincoln the night before for our plucky tournament hosts. You can learn more about their epic journey on the forum at www.therivercard.com/forums/thread/3631.aspx, and there is talk of a possible film with Johnny Depp in the lead role.

Moving on to the poker, just over 100 players sat down to fight over the prizes and those all-important seats in the National final. It was a cagey start, and one hour had almost elapsed before the first casualty of the day. Nigel "Spillmaster" Upton was dignity personified as he sportingly shook hands with his hit man and the other players at the table. There was never a clear chip leader at any point throughout the day, and as the final table approached, it was hard to pick a winner. Eventually, Matt Greening from the Bull Inn made his move and fought off pressure from Sian Porter from the Deers Leap to take the title.

West Midlands Regional Final Results
1 - Matt Greening - Bull Inn
2 - Sian Porter - Deers Leap
3 - Andy Allen - Kings Head
4 - Lee Ball - Crabmill Inn
5 - Mel Clarke - Lawford Arms
6 - Jon Harris - Castle Hotel
7 - Sarah Taylor - Kings Head Hotel
8 - Steve Bradley - Deers Leap
9 - Martin Fothergill - New Bilton Conservative Club

Southwest Regional Finals
Once again, the Zephyr Bar in Exeter was the venue for the Southwest regional final, with a field of 60 players looking to secure the coveted championship crown. Plenty of merriment was had and boisterous banter was abundant at the tables. The drinks were flowing freely along with the bad beats and sob stories.

The final table saw some meaty hands, and the pick of the bunch took place between Dan Hewlett and Pete Wonnacott. Pete raised with pocket eights and Dan called with the Jdiamond 7diamond. The flop brought Qdiamond 4diamond 2diamond, giving Dan the flush. He raised, and after a moment of quiet contemplation punctuated by shouts of all in, Pete called, moving all of his chips into the middle. The cards were turned and Pete began putting on his coat, only to see two more queens appear on the turn and river.

As the smoke began to settle on an action-packed day, Stephen Salisbury from the Teignmouth Inn and Dan Hewlett from the Three Crowns found themselves heads up for the title. Dan finished second in the Three Crowns league, and unfortunately for him, history was to repeat itself as he failed to dent Stephen's chip stack in any meaningful way. The Teignmouth Inn player had already triumphed in his pub league, and now he will be hoping that his winning streak can continue at the National final. Even if Steve does not make it to Vegas for the Nationals, his head will still be up in the clouds as he takes to the heavens courtesy of Virgin Balloons.

Southwest Regional Final Results
1 - Stephen Salisbury - Teginmouth Inn
2 - Dan Hewlett - Three Crowns
3 - Rob Ankers - Zephyr Bar
4 - Scott McCarthy - The Bush
5 - Pete Wonnacott - West Hoe
6 - Jason Bartlett - The Bush
7 - Terry White - Barley Mow
8 - Darren Bartlett - The Bush
9 - Paul Mitchell - Three Crowns

East Midlands Regional Finals
Sunday saw Poker in the Pub arrive at the Pride of Lincoln pub, which looked immaculate as the players took their seats. The tense hush of the first hours of play was broken by the departure of Gary "Bully" Barton, who had been bullied himself a few hands earlier by Simon "Symonkey" Jones, who walked away with most of his chips.

After an enjoyable afternoon's play, early evening saw the players who had reached the final table take their seats. Adam "A.J." Wallace, who topped the National table, finished in a very commendable sixth place after being down to only 300 chips early on. As players began to fall by the wayside, the three qualifying places for the National final loomed ever closer; eventually, we were left with three very deserving survivors. Gary "Foot" Warren from the Easington Lane Working Men's Club had made the long trip down from the northeast, and he found that the journey was definitely worth his while, as he finished second. He was just pipped at the end by James "Monkey" Newton, who finished fifth in the National table, and now has the East Midlands trophy to show for his efforts.

East Midlands Regional Final Results
1 - James Newton - Any pub within 25 miles
2 - Garry Warren - Easington Lane WMC
3 - Vinny Calam - Cherry Tree Inn
4 - Richard Meldrum - Shoulder of Mutton
5 - Tony Haines - Bull & Chain
6 - Adam Wallace - Any pub within 30 miles
7 - Dawn Andrews - Green Barrell
8 - Tina Newbury - Bull & Chain
9 - Simon Fields - Birchwoods Leisure Centre

London Regional Finals
As play kicked off in Lincoln, the London final was also getting under way. The aptly named Tournament pub was the venue for the London regional final, and 34 gladiators crossed the threshold to do battle, with cards and chips as their swords and shields.

Carlos Fernandez from the Octoberfest Pub was the first player to draw blood, taking out both Chris Marshall and Alan Gunn in the first 40 minutes of play. This aggressive play in the early stages set Carlos on the path to a final-table finish.

After almost six hours of absorbing play, we were left with just two players - Roger "Woody" Wood from the Crown Inn and Brian "The River" Walker. Roger had built up a big chip lead after cutting a swathe through the lower order, dispatching of six of the top 14 players. This left Brian rather short-stacked, but he held his own until Roger called his all-in preflop bet. Brian turned over A-2 offsuit and found himself dominated by A-6 offsuit. The community cards drew a blank for both players, and Brian was shaking Roger's hand when it was pointed out that with four cards higher than a 6, the hand would be tied. Brian lived up to his name with a king on the river to save himself. However, Roger was not to be denied a second time, and there was nothing Brian could do, as he eventually went down to a pair of sevens.

Roger walked away with a seat in the National final and a year's supply of Odeon cinema tickets, whilst Brian can console himself with the knowledge that he also has a shot at a trip to Las Vegas at the end of our third league.

London Regional Final Results
1 - Roger Wood - Crown Inn
2 - Brian Walker - Guildford Tup
3 - Karen Steadman - Fountain Head
4 - Ralph Turnbull - Deux Beers
5 - Raine Hilson - Rye Hill Golf Club
6 - Wayne Pretorius - Deux Beers
7 - Tim Sunderland - Octoberfest Pub
8 - Carlos Fernandez - Octoberfest Pub
9 - Lesley Elrick - Guildford Tup

Scottish Regional Finals
Scottish players got their first taste of the regional finals in Glasgow, and a big hand must go to all of the players who made the trip down from Stirling. After an incident-packed tournament, the heads-up battle saw French player Matthieu Laporte add some foreign zest to the proceedings, but it was not enough, as he went down to Dave "Hat" Mitchell, who claimed the title of Poker in the Pub's first Scottish champion.

Scottish Regional Final Results
1 - Dave Mitchell - The Royalty
2 - Matthieu Laporte - The Primary
3 - Bobby Morton - Sportsters
4 - Dougie Law - The Primary
5 - Willie McCallum - The Royalty
6 - Ian Main - The Caledonian
7 - John Ross - The Royalty
8 - John Scully - Sportsters
9 - David Young - Sportsters

A big thank you must go to all of the people who helped make the regional finals such great events: Dave Cain, P.J., and all of their helpers who ran the two Midlands finals, and Steve Boll, who oversaw the Scottish tournament. All of the photos from these events can be found on the Rivercard photo site at www.therivercard.com/photos.

We already are looking forward to the next regional finals, and, more importantly, the first National final that promises to be a spectacular event. If you would like to get involved with Poker in the Pub, please visit www.pokerinthepub.com for more information. spade

The Poker in the Pub League, sponsored by The Rivercard, has been created to give poker players a chance to enjoy a game of cards in pleasant and familiar surroundings with friends and colleagues.