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The Regional Finals - Golden Sands Poker Festival, Here We Come!

by Dave Brannan |  Published: Jul 01, 2007

The May regional finals offered players their final chance to qualify for this year's National Final, and the weekend certainly did not disappoint. Alongside the incentive of a seat in the National Final, players at the Torquay, London, Birmingham, and Lincoln events had a very attractive first prize to play for. The winner of each of these tournaments would receive a £500 buy-in to the Golden Sands Poker Festival in August.

South West Regional Final
Stanley Casino in Torquay made its debut as a venue, and the South West players certainly appreciated the classic elegance and layout of this distinctive building. Sixty-four players sat down, knowing that only one could walk away with the trophy and the £500 buy-in. Rick Allen from the Royal Huntsman in Taunton was the first casualty of the day when his straight lost to a full house. Soon thereafter, he was followed by Bill "The Fridge" Barker, who got frozen out and was left to try his luck at the sit-and-go tables. After an hour and a half of play, Richard Chappell was the chip leader, and this early dominance resulted in a final-table finish of eighth place for the Teignmouth Inn player. There were many close shaves and lucky escapes throughout the day, but one in particular caught the eye. Jim Weekes was down to just one chip (of the lowest value) and appeared to be on his way out, but he fought back to 4,500 and eventually finished in a respectable 31st position.

After a roller-coaster six-hour ride, we were down to one table. Cardroom Manager Nick Peters, who had done a superb job of running the tournament, was called upon to showcase his dealing skills as the remaining 10 players took their seats. The Cornish contingent from The Royal Inn and Lugger Inn had travelled up by rail, and their session of "Poker on the Train" had obviously done them good, as they had four representatives at the final table. By this point, the blinds had begun to take their toll on the short stacks, and it was not long before players began to drop by the wayside. After a tense period of play, we were left with the final three of Marion James, Jason Turney, and Kevin Hill. Marion battled hard, and for a while it looked like we might see our first female champion, but she eventually had to settle for third place. Jason had come to the final table with almost one-third of the tournament chips, and this stack ensured that he was still standing as the competition entered the heads-up stage. The chip leader's stack had been whittled down over the course of the final table, and Jason found himself all in at one point, only to have the river save him. Kevin was then left cursing his bad fortune a second time as the final hand of the tournament proved that lady luck was smiling down on the Ivybridge player. Kev hit a straight on the flop and Jason called his all-in bet, needing an 8 to split the pot. He promptly hit the 8 on the turn, and the river produced another diamond, giving Jason a flush and the trophy.

South West Regional Final Results
1. Jason Turney - Bridge Inn
2. Kevin Hill - Royal Inn
3. Marion James - Kings Arms
4. Steve Rawlings - Lugger Inn
5. Stephen Salisbury - Teignmouth Inn
6. Paul Moore - Duke of Cornwall
7. Ryan Morrison - Duke of Cornwall
8. Richard Chappell - Teignmouth Inn
9. Jamie Martyn - Royal Inn
10. Lee Tambling - Lugger Inn

London Final
The London final saw 45 players battle it out to claim the main prize. There are plenty of very aggressive players around, and some of them are very successful. However, the term aggressive player would be wasted on London winner Mark Baker. I think the term "plain crazy" would be a better description of Mark's play during the final. Right from the start, the player from the Friary Arms in Bognor Regis was not afraid to put his chips in the middle. However, most people occasionally find time to actually look at their cards before they go all in. On a number of occasions, Mark actually played blind. His superaggressive play meant that players became wary of putting any chips in against him, which helped ease his passage through.

After one and a half hours of play, he had collected 14 percent of the chips in play, but I was confident that he would be pegged back as the laws of probability began to take their toll. Three hours later, with the final table now up and running, it started to become apparent that each and every one of the laws of probability had decided to take the day off. I began to see looks of resignation from players who were forced all in against the player from Bognor Regis, even when they were ahead to begin with. It took six hours for Mark Baker to be crowned London champion, and he personally had eliminated more than a quarter of the field. In fairness to Mark, he was a fantastic competitor all day, and played the game in the right spirit. He obviously came to enjoy himself and seemed to have a smile on his face throughout the tournament. However, I think there may be a few raised eyebrows at the Golden Sands Festival if Mark continues to play hands blind.

London Regional Final Results
1. Mark Baker - Friary Arms
2. Tom Dury - Drayton Pavilion
3. Anthony Garman - Bersted Tavern
4. Kurtis Shore - Crown Inn
5. Paul Taylor - Bersted Tavern
6. Simon Mason - The Bystander
7. Steve Obard - Jestas
8. Wayne Pretorius - Deux Beers
9. Carl Sewell - Drayton Pavilion
10. Dave McNeilly - Guildford Tup

West Midlands Final
The prestigious Broadway Casino in Birmingham provided the backdrop for the West Midlands final, and it was another thrilling encounter. There were 83 runners and the game progressed at a steady pace, with competitors gradually playing their way in. The action really started to heat up when we got down to the final table, helped by having possibly the fastest dealer in world. With eight players left, Lee "The Enigma" Ball began his demolition of the final table. Joanne Jackson was his first victim, as her A-K was cracked by K-J when the river card gave Lee a straight. He then proceeded to dispatch the rest of the final table, leaving him heads up with Dan Cattell. On the final hand of the day, both players checked until Dan went all in with the A 10 5 J 6 on the board. The Worcester-based player turned over the A 8, which was not enough, as Lee showed the A 5 to take the title. The top-five players will be back in the Broadway to resume their contest in the National Final, which you can read about in the next issue.

West Midlands Regional Final Results
1. Lee Ball - Crabmill Inn
2. Dan Cattell - Castle Hotel
3. Grahame Bunn - Kings Head
4. Alan Gandy - Bull Inn
5. Andrew Tomkinson - General Wolfe
6. Richard Gregory - Cherry Tree
7. Ray O'Callaghan - Coopers Arms
8. Joanne Jackson - General Wolfe
9. Dave Drury - New Bilton Conservative Club
10. Wesley Roberts - Bull Hotel

East Midlands Final
The Pride of Lincoln hosted its second regional final, and once again, the room looked fantastic, thanks to Dave Cain and his wonderful team of helpers. The tournament started with 127 runners, and Jeff "Fingers" Walker was the first player to depart. He gracefully received adoration from the other 126 players as he made his way to the bar to tell his bad-beat story to anyone who would listen.

By the time we reached the final table, Russell Grantham and Colin Campbell held more than half the tournament chips between them. It looked very much like one of these two players would go on to lift the title, but it was not to be. Adam Urbanowski was well-placed in third position going to the final table, and he improved his chances after he took down a massive pot against Colin "Penguin" Campbell. Eventually, he found himself heads up against Russell, and when the City Vaults player moved all in with the 10 9, Adam was quick to call, showing the A 10. The boardcards helped neither player, and Adam became the third successive East Midlands champion from the Shoulder of Mutton in Ruskington. Poker in the Pub officials later visited the pub to make sure that the landlord was not adding poker-enhancing chemicals to the beer, but it turns out that the Shoulder just has a knack for producing good players.

East Midlands Regional Final Results
1. Adam Urbanowski - Shoulder of Mutton
2. Russell Grantham - City Vaults, Bull & Chain
3. Ian Potter - City Vaults
4. Jonathon Cave - Green Barrel
5. Keith Hewerdine - Green Barrel
6. David Craske - Londesbough Arms
7. Colin Campbell - Bull & Chain
8. Kyle Joyce - Bull & Chain, Shoulder of Mutton
9. Ian Newbury - Bull & Chain
10. Tracey Baggott - Green Barrel

Scottish Regional Final
Steve Boll ran the Scottish regional final and did a fine job of marshalling the players. Jamie Craig from the Sportsters pub in Stirling was the big chip leader going to the final table, and he made sure that he put pressure on the remaining runners. He kept his chip lead throughout the final table, and was really challenged only when he was heads up for the title. Paul McGettrick was forced to play very aggressively to try to claw back ground, and he managed to bring himself into contention. However, Jamie maintained his nerves and eventually took the title when his K-10 held up against K-9. The Sportsters player walked away with a year's supply of Odeon cinema tickets and a seat in the National Final, where he will be looking to add a luxury holiday in Las Vegas to his winnings.

Scottish Regional Final Results
1. Jamie Craig - Sportsters
2. Paul McGettrick - Hallion Club
3. Gavin Shaw - Club Paphos 2000
4. John Ross - Royalty Bar
5. Dave Cooper - Royalty Bar
6. Neil MacTaggart - Royalty Bar
7. William McCallum - Rio Café
8. Stuart Boyes - Hallion Club
9. John Scully - Sportsters

These regional finals were the most successful so far, and the National Final promises to be an exciting climax to our first year. Four of our regional-final winners will be playing in the £500 main event at the Golden Sands Poker Festival in August, so if you wish to see firsthand just how "plain crazy" Mark Baker's poker play really is, come along. More details of this prestigious event on the UK poker calendar can be found at The new season of Poker in the Pub is now up and running, so if you want to get involved, please visit the website at