A clinical final table performance by Thomas Finneran means the UKIPT Cork title will return to Emerald Isle. A fun-filled week of poker climaxed when he defeated nearly man Stephen McGrath in a very short heads up battle at the end of a final day that took a little less than six levels to play out.
It's testament to the winner that those who know Finneran say the man only plays four big tournaments a year and somehow seems to make at least two final tables. A deal was struck before heads-up play began that saw €5,000 taken off the first prize and added to second. That meant Finneran took home €55,440 for less than four days work. This is his first UKIPT cash but he has had three deep runs at EPTs and made the final table of the prestigious Irish Open back in 2007. On his victory Finneran said, "This one feels the best because of the victory. It's hard to win anything these days as the players have improved a lot."
This result is his first major title and he knew his name would be on the trophy after a final hand that saw him call McGrath's shove holding Q♠8♠. McGrath, who was very short-stacked by this point despite starting the heads up battle as chip leader, opened 5♣6♣ but failed to hit on the 4♠8♣3♦8♥Q♣ board. Finneran described his heads up battle with the words, "I've played a fair bit of heads-up and worked on my game, it's important to do that as the difference between first and second is big, so I've worked on my game."
McGrath had a torrid time of it heads up and had to settle for being the bridesmaid once more after he finished second at UKIPT3 Dublin less than a year ago. Still, securing more than €100k for two cashes on this tour is a commendable achievement few will ever match.
Finneran came into the final table trailing only Pawel Keller in the chip counts. The PokerStars qualifier from Poland and Finneran had been trading the chip lead back and forth for the last couple of days and many expected them to be heads-up for the title. For a while today that opinion seemed wise as the two players stayed at the top of the counts as all fell around them. McGrath was a thorn in Pawel's side thoughout and overtook him before eliminating him. Pawel's final act saw him push with the nut-flush draw on the turn of a K♥5♦5♣J♦ board. McGrath called with ace-king and faded a diamond river.
Deborah Worley-Roberts was a character that no one will forget from this week on Ireland's south coast. She filled the tournament room with her fun-loving personality until she busted in 5th place. She flopped two pair in a hand with Keller only for the latter to hit a straight on the turn and that's when the chips went in. The UKIPT's first female champion will have to wait, as will its first Icelandic champion. Fridjon Thordarson, who finished one place higher in fourth, will surely be happy with his result as he was reduced to fumes on the final table bubble last night only to stage a remarkable comeback.
Ireland's other two representatives at this final table, Alexander Rhys-Davies and Nicholas Newport, were eliminated in sixth and eighth respectively. Newport ran pocket nines into the pocket aces of Finneran and Rhys-Davies couldn't come from behind with A♣9♥ to better Thordarson's J♣J♥. That just leaves PokerStars qualifier Pascal Töngi who was left short by Thordarson and finished off by the champ. He pushed with A♥5♥ and was called by Finneran with 7♥5♦ who went on to hit a seven to bust the German in seventh.
Here's a full run-down of the final table results and prizes:
1st. Thomas Finneran, Ireland, €55,440
2nd. Stephen McGrath, United Kingdom, €45,600
3rd. Pawel Keller, Poland, PokerStars Qualifier, €24,960
4th. Fridjon Thordarson, Iceland, PokerStars Qualifier, €19,360
5th. Deborah Worley-Roberts, United States, PokerStars Qualifier, 14,780
6th. Alexander Rhys-Davies, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, €10,510
7th.Pascal Töngi, Germany, PokerStars Qualifier, €7,885
8th. Nicholas Newport, Ireland, PokerStars Player, €5,910
If you read back through the coverage you'll notice that Finneran never featured in any huge pots that some of the other finalists had woven into their story. "I took on the short stacks all week, didn't really play any massive flips. There was one near the bubble with AK vs QQ but that was only for half my stack. The only time I've really been short is at the start of Day 2 when I came back with 10 big blinds," were the man's words that back this up.
The Irish poker community will be very proud of Finneran and so they should be as he's a worthy winner on this tour that heads to London next month. Three starting flights promise to help create a massive field with prizes to match. Satellites are running on PokerStars now. Until then we bid you goodbye from Cork.
To catch up on all the week's action and all the prizes won in the main event, please click on the links below:
Prize pool and payouts
Final table player profiles.
Keller in Pole position going to the final table
Finneran leads field heading into penultimate day
Fintan Gavin tops Day 1B field
Pascal Töngi tops the lot on Day 1A of UKIPT Cork
Photos are copyright of Mickey May and should be treated as such. She's just updated her operating system and can search out anyone who violates this.