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by Jennifer Mason |  Published: Jun 01, 2007

Dave Colclough Wins Leg 4 of Grosvenor UK Poker Tour
It had been more than a year since the top UK player had a won a major event, but in the small hours of Monday, April 23, Dave "El Blondie" Colclough finally again tasted sweet victory. Dave pocketed £88,000 for the win, while Blue Square Poker online qualifier Barry Neville netted £47,000 for his second-place finish.

The impressive heads-up battle between Dave and Barry lasted more than two and half hours, despite the fact that Dave had a 2-1 chip advantage before entering the heads-up stage. The deathblow was finally dealt when Colclough, holding a 10-9, made a flush on the river against Neville's J-9. After the epic battle, Colclough paid Neville a big compliment, saying the heads-up match was one of the toughest he had ever played.

Dr. Tom Sambrook, a poker commentator, finished in third place after suffering a bad beat at the hands of Neville. Sambrook, who acted as poker consultant on the recent James Bond film Casino Royale, was one of four online qualifiers to make the final. In addition to Neville, the other two were Chris Bruce, a Scotsman who now lives in Nottingham, and Greek Jack Dionysiou from Grantham. They finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Fourth place went to Nick Slade, fifth to Portsmouth's Ryan Fronda, and Watford's Richard Ashby took sixth. Mancunian Victor Kaye, who finished in ninth place, completed the final-table lineup.

The next stop on the GUKPT tour is Leg 5 at the Grosvenor Casino in Brighton, May 17-20. For more information, visit

Spring on the circuit
March and April were spent by most poker journalists and a good number of players on the road. Back-to-back European Poker Tour events in Dortmund and Warsaw (hastily but pretty successfully put together after the late cancellation of Deauville) were followed by the one that broke all records on the continent - the Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Sandwiched in between was the £1,000 Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Cardiff leg, for which a sellout crowd managed to turn up despite most of them being in the country only long enough to play the event and run a load of wash before packing up and heading out again. Some of them were: Praz Bansi, Nik Persaud, Roberto Romanello, Tony Mackay, J.P. Kelly, Michael Greco, and Steve Jelinek. Romanello and Greco made the final table, the former finishing third while the Dusk Till Dawn-sponsored actor-turned-poker-pro took the trophy, feeling vindicated: "All my hard work in the last year's paid off."

Roberto "The Mouth" Romanello chatted and raised his way into a phenomenal chip lead on the first day in Cardiff, while Vicky Coren ended up ahead of the day one (B) field, but it was the seasoned Hoss Parhizhkar who took second to Greco in the first GUKPT event to end with any kind of money deal (a three-way chop for £50,000, leaving £32,000 to play for). There were also final-table finishes for (in ascending order) Kayshan Muthy, Ian Nelson, Elliot Bowker, Simon Zach, Steve Craig, and Dave Smith, who performed my "Outdraw of the Year," moving in with pocket fives against a flopped Broadway straight and hitting runner-runner house to stay in - and with a good stack - on the second day, when a lot of play still remained. It's perhaps worth a quick comparison here to the €1,000 side event in Dortmund, with its 20-minute (rising to 30) blinds and two-day allowance; the price of this national tour might not be right to lure the big travelling players, but there is definitely a lot of tournament for the price.

In the interests of brevity, I can sum up Dortmund's main event (a sellout itself), as far as UK players went, as a "close but no cigar" kind of result. Although Mike Tse, Jim Kerrigan, Mickey Wernick, Paul Gourlay (who's been building press-attracting stacks in quite a few events this year), and Ben Grundy cashed in the event, Ben's 16th place was as high as any made it. Paul Foltyn's day-two laboriously short-stacked grind into the money deserves a mention, too, if only to highlight the dodgy bubble management there: It lasted a full level and a half, during which the clock was not paused as the seven hands or so that were played dragged on, until everyone was feeling the pressure of low M as well as low energy. When Grundy eventually exited, it was with "an unplayable stack and an open spot," a complaint echoed by others at that time. Not Thomas Fougeron, however, who was one of two French players (the other being the personable, London-residing Nicolas Levi) making the final table after making an extraordinary comeback from two big blinds on day one to 200,000 after the bubble. Scandinavians took the top spots in both Germany and Poland in the end, however - Andreas Hoivold and Peter Jepsen, respectively - continuing an overall trend that is proving hard to upset.

It was in Monte Carlo that UK players got into the limelight (they were just warming up through March). Big international players are attracted by big international fields, which sounds like it involves some kind of Catch-22. There must be a critical mass at which tournaments involving 10-hour flights from the U.S. to compete in suddenly become attractive, and the EPT Grand Final made it. Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, Josh Arieh, runner-up Marc Karam, and, of course, eventual winner Gavin Griffin travelled a long way to get to Monaco, along with a record-breaking (until the Irish Open squeezed in a few more the following week) number of other runners. But it was Englishman Steve Jelinek who held on to the chip lead for a good length of time, making the final table along with Ram Vaswani and Andy Black (who appears on player lists alternately as "UK" and "Ireland" and gets vigorous support from both places).

The UK itself might be resistant to the Euro, the English person on the street strangely suspicious of being classified as European, but poker players aren't too bothered. Money is money, no matter whose face is on it. I came back from this most recent trip with three unusable kinds of spare change in my wallet, while EPT Warsaw third-place finisher John "Punkfloyd" Conroy declared himself "a half Zlotyaire" in the bar after winning nearly 400,000 Zlotych (€109,238). John, like fellow final-table competitor and sixth-place finisher Andrew O'Flaherty, is a Dubliner living in Leeds - therefore getting the Irish and UK following just like Mr. Black, who was given the mic for the Warsaw final table's commentary by someone who was probably relieved that it wasn't being broadcast live.

Speaking of live broadcast, after it actually happened at the Paddy Power Irish Open last year, this time we had to wait until a couple of hours after the final ended (comprised of: Danny McHugh, Brian O'Keeffe, Sorel Mizzi, Marty Smyth, Nicky Power, Thomas Finneran, and Roland De Wolfe) to watch the finished show, complete with holecards. The UK was holding its collective breath (well, everyone who'd put a bet on long-odds short-stack Roland to win at the start of the day) as he fought all the way to heads up with Marty Smyth, before the popular Irish player took the lead and then the title. Meanwhile, with the EPT streaming live web coverage complete with incessant commentary from the likes of Lee Jones, Barry Martin, and John Duthie from its final tables, bloggers are glad that the size of the fields continues to increase, and that there's room for only one feature table per event, or we'd all be out of a job.

Jen Mason is part of She is responsible for its live tournament coverage in the UK and abroad.