Chris O’Donnell tonight became UKIPT Brighton champion after beating Richard Hasancebi in a gruelling heads up to win £71,100. The online cash game player, dubbed ‘Bobby Big Head’ by his friends, picked up the chip lead halfway through Day 1 and always looked like a lock to make the final table. O’Donnell beat a record UKIPT Brighton main event field of 603 runners to win the trophy, more than twice that of last year, contributing to a £292,455 prize pool.
To borrow a football cliché, it was a game of two halves – even if the first half lasted just two of the eight-and-a-half hours of today’s play. Eleven players had returned with chips and it took less than two levels for that number to be chopped down to just four players. The game had been fast and frenetic up until that point with two short-handed tables quickly squeezing down to one with the departures of Andrew Miles in 11th and Neil Barron in 10th (both for £3,550).
Alex Ferguson was the first casualty of the final table losing a flip with J♥J♦ to Jeff Duvall’s A♠K♠ and as play went eight-handed it was the two foreign raiders that went to battle.
Rudi Johnsen and Jaroslav Horak went to war with the Czech (Horak) making a bold six-bet shove with pocket jacks into the pocket kings of steely Norwegian Johnsen. The monster 2,800,000 pot, almost a third of the chips in play, was pushed to Johnsen. Horak, who had been second in chips was out three hands later, all three of which he was all-in for his tournament life. The spiky-haired Czech was finally despatched by Richard Hasancebi.
David Trigg went shortly after in the second tournament changing hand of the final table. Senim Melin had opened with Q♥Q♣, Trigg had shoved with 4♠4♦ and had been called all-in by O’Donnell’s A♥K♥. Melin, who had both covered but not by a great deal, made the call but the 1,500,000 pot was pushed to O’Donnell as the board ran out 10♥7♥9♣K♠8♠. Trigg hit the rail, Melin was left short and O’Donnell, a player of obvious composure, had suddenly got his hands on a lot of chips.
Melin survived just long enough to see David Rudling-Smith sent to the rail in sixth, his rollercoaster tournament had finally come to an end, sevens crushed by Johnsen’s tens, but not without one final joke. “Does he have me covered?” he asked of chip leader Johnsen, whose stack summarily swelled to 3,700,000 with five players remaining. Melin mounted a small comeback but it was short-lived, she went out next in a battle of the blinds with Jeff Duvall.
That was the end of the first half. As the second half began ferocious three-bet shoves made way for measured deep stacked play, the average stack being a huge 70 big blinds. That four-way dance lasted some three hours and was finally broken when former chip leader Johnsen was knocked out by Duvall, A♠Q♠ failing to crack the Englishman’s pocket kings.
Duvall had almost half the chips in play at this point and it looked like his live experience may send the title his way but he hadn’t figured on the conviction of O’Donnell who called off his two million stack with J♦J♠ when Duvall shoved on him with K♥5♥ on a 3♥Q♥5♠ flop. O’Donnell faded the many outs and took the chip lead. “Very good call,” said Duvall, generous enough to pay credit when credit was due. The 62-year old ‘retired’ pro was knocked out just ten minutes later running K♥Q♠ into O’Donnell’s A♦K♠. O’Donnell later told us that Duvall had a lot more moves than some of the other players may have given him credit for.
That sent us into extra time with O’Donnell, not a stranger to the chip lead, firmly in control with a seven million to two million chip lead over Hasancebi. He soon extended that to an eight to one lead but Hasancebi refused to panic, which comes as little surprise to someone that has watched him play over the last few days. The structure gave him plenty of breathing space and he used it.
O’Donnell simply couldn’t finish him off and a couple of all-ins later Hasancebi had taken the chip lead. Then O’Donnell dug his heels in, neither giving ground. It would take some three-and-a-half hours and both players to be all-in many more times before a winner would be crowned. In the balance of all-ins it was Hasancebi who was at risk more often but he finally relented getting A♥7♥ in against O’Donnell’s A♦K♦. It was a tough tournament to win and O’Donnell may have finally earned his nickname.
1st: Chris O’Donnell, United Kingdom, £71,100
2nd: Richard Hasancebi, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £41,300
3rd: Jeff Duvall, United Kingdom, £25,300
4th: Rudi Johnsen, Norway, PokerStars qualifer, £18,600
5th: Sinem Melin, United Kingdom, £14,900
6th: David Rudling-Smith, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £11,400
7th: David Trigg, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £8,950
8th: Jaroslav Horak, Czech Republic, PokerStars qualifier, £6,900
9th: Alex Ferguson, United Kingdom, PokerStars qualifier, £4,930
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