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UK Poker News: Poker in the Pub Regional Finals

Two Steps From Las Vegas

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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.

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 and there is talk of a possible film with Johnny Depp in the lead role.

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. There was never a clear chip leader at any point throughout the proceedings and, as the final table approached, it was hard to pick a winner. Eventually, Matt Greening from the Bull Inn made his move and saw off pressure from Sian Porter from the Deers Leap to take the title.

Once again the Zephyr Bar in Exeter was the venue for the South West regional final with a field of 60 players looking to secure the coveted crown of South West champion.

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 had 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 at the nationals, his head will still be up in the clouds as he takes to the heavens courtesy of Virgin Balloons.

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 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. As players began to fall by the wayside, the three qualifying places for the national final loomed ever closer until eventually we were left with three very deserving survivors. Gary "Foot" Warren from the Easington Lane Working Mens Club had made the long trip down from the North East and he found that the journey was definitely worth his while as he finished second. He was just pipped at the last by James "Monkey" Newton who finished fifth in the national table and and now has the East Midlands trophy to show for his efforts.

As play kicked off in Lincoln, the London final was also getting underway. 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.

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 swath through the lower order, dispatching six of the top 14 players. This left Brian rather short-stacked but he held his own until Roger called his all-in preflop. 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 above a 6, the hand was tied. Brian had 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.

Scottish players got their first taste of the regional finals in Glasgow and a big hand must go to all 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 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.

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

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