That’s the end of level 4 and the halfway point of the day. We’re waiting on final confirmation of numbers. Join us in a new post in 20 minutes. — RD
4.15pm: Table captain
We’re regularly updating the chip counts page players are busting out pretty quickly today and tables are being broken and condensed all the time. As a result of a table breakage Sam Grafton (38,000) and Dean Lyall (42,000) are on the same table. That could be an interesting one to watch. — NW
4.10pm: Sorry man
You sense that poker players saying sorry when they’ve got it in behind and won is an empty gesture and as gestures go it’s even more empty when they get it in good and hold up. But, somehow it just seems the appropriate response when you eliminate someone from a poker tournament.
And I just witnessed John Willoughby and George Power perform this little dance after the former eliminated the latter. I only caught the action from the turn but there was already about 10,000 in the pot and with the board showing 4♣A♣5♠2♥ Willoughby bet 3,600, he was flat called and Power then moved all-in for around 12,000. Back on Willoughby he re-raised all-in and the flat caller got out the way.
Willoughby: 3♥3♣ – turned straight
Power: 4♠4♦ – flopped set
Although he was behind Power had a re-draw but he couldn’t get there on the Q♥ river after winning that pot Willoughby is up to 40,000. — NW
4pm: Ledders spots the live tell
Gerry Hegarty had limped under-the-gun and picked up multiple callers; two of which were Michael Leedham in the big blind and Daiva Barauskaite on the button. All six players checked the A♥7♠K♠ flop but on the 4♣ turn Michael Leedham looked set to take a stab at the pot. Just as he was reaching for his chips Hegarty reached for his own. Leedham pulled a quizzical face and opted to check instead. Hegarty bet 725 and all his opponents, Leedham included, passed.
“I went for my chips too quickly, he was going to bet,” said Hegarty.
Yes, I think everyone realized that. — RD
3.45pm: Lively table 17
Matt Nolan has just bought himself a consolation pint after getting knocked out of the main event. He told us that he was the sixth player to get knocked out at table 17, yet strangely no-one is ridiculously stacked up there, but someone no doubt will be in the coming levels.
Nolan has jumped into a cash game and, there’s no easy way to say this, but if you’re looking for Ali Duncan, Michael Duffy, Mark Karoulas, UKIPT Killarney champ Femi Fakinle, Jarlath Kilgallon, Lee Dixon, Jay Cleere, Mike Hill, Deborah Worley-Roberts, Callum Smith or, a man with a great name for poker, Raik Fischer, then perhaps you should look to that cash game. They’re all out. — RD
3.35pm: Blain can’t summon the magic
I feel I might have put the hex on Dermot Blain after praising him earlier (see post at 1.50pm) as the Irishman is now out. He ran ace-king into Lee Taylor’s aces and the latter now has a stack approaching 50,000. — NW
3.23pm: The structure
The UKIPT structure is a great one and which can be seen by clicking here. Today, like yesterday, we’ll be playing eight one-hour levels with no dinner break. The all-important antes kick in during level six. — RD
I’m updating the chip counts page as often as possible. It’s not comprehensive but it contains the names, notables and big stacks. Someone who covers all three categories is UKIPT S3 Galway champion Emmett Mullin who’s off to a good start as he’s up to 35,000. But, that’s not the biggest stack at his table, as on his direct right Conor Beresford has 47,000. — NW
3.10pm: Always the river
“Damn river,” exclaimed Kevin Monroe as he passed 6,575 of his stack in the direction of Sean Clery. “It’s always the river,” he added, perhaps to ease the pain or maybe in case anyone missed it the first time.
In an all-in pre-flop encounter, Monroe was a big favourite as he held pocket queens, Clery had the dominated A♦Q♠ and looked to be heading out as the flop of 6♠K♦J♣ bought him only an unlikely gutshot to go with his overcard.
The 3♥ didn’t help, but the A♥ river certainly did. As players who are about to be eliminated so often do, Clery was half out of his chair before the river was dealt so had to do the sit-back-down-shuffle as he collected his chips. — NW
3pm: Getting the SCOOP with Sam Grafton
“Sorry I didn’t win the SCOOP. You could have been, like, ‘let’s interview SCOOP winner Sam Grafton wearing his bracelet’,” said Sam Grafton.
While some players have to have quotes crowbarred out of them, Grafton has to be sat on like an over-packed suitcase. There’s just too much coming out. He talks quickly and enthusiastically, hands waving as if he’s swatting imaginary flies. And with that opening salvo he does himself a disservice, although he didn’t win the SCOOP title and bust out in third place in SCOOP-2-H, a $2,100 buy-in, Grafton, playing under the name ‘SamSquid’, took the largest slice of the money, a massive $234,193.
“I felt like I played really well anyway,” continued Grafton, unprompted, “I had the chip lead with about 500 – halfway through the field – and I don’t think I ever fell outside the top five after that. I went to the final table second in chips. I was so consistent throughout the tournament that I feel I deserved it.”
Grafton’s rail was loud and vociferous in the chat box, on Twitter and Facebook. It was heartwarming stuff. James Dempsey’s tweet summed it up: “News has reached me that you are doing well in a virtual poker game. Best of luck mate, be a very popular result #squidlovesthegame”
Did that level of support surprise Grafton? A little, but not a lot.
“The British poker community is amazingly supportive of their own. I think we have incredible morale among all of us. Everyone roots for everyone else which culminated in last year’s Vegas, but it’s continued since. I was pretty overwhelmed by the amount of Facebook messages I received. The amount of people that said they stayed up and watched it, I’d be like ‘thanks’ then they’d ask, ‘What did you have in this or that hand?’ They actually had watched it, not just had it on in the background, you know. That was really nice.
“All of us who are playing on Stars all the time are very close. Whenever someone makes a final table you get it up. The game’s quite tough with all the swings that you go through so you need that network of support and everyone gets to celebrate together.”
Another way of balancing those swings is obviously by selling and swapping action, so how much did Grafton actually have of himself?
“I only had 30% (still an uptick of around $70,000) but it’s my biggest score to date. I’ve probably worked the hardest I ever have on my game since January. I was comfortable for a while but Chris Brammer, who’s one of my closest friends, had a sick end of last year with his FCOOP results. That spurred me on to really want to do it; crack the top 100 on PocketFives, get that marquee score. This is what I’ve been working towards.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played this much volume, never missing a Sunday, hand reviewing. In this game you don’t always get what you deserve so it’s really nice to have something that vindicates the work that I’ve been doing with Toby (Lewis), Brammer and Craig McCorkell,” he said.
Grafton, a man well known for his Shoreditch style of sartorial elegance; all trend shoes, weird jeans, big glasses, tilted cap atop explosive hair, doesn’t strike you as the type to just sit back and quietly enjoy his win. In fact, it’s hard to imagine him do anything quietly.
“We had a bit of a celebration. I play at a club in East London with some good friends and we had a good night out on the Saturday. I also invited all my non-poker friends. They were a bit overwhelmed: ‘This is actual money that you won?’ I’ve neglected them a bit because I’ve been playing so hard so it was good to take them out too.”
The next step – after winning UKIPT Dublin, of course – is the World Series and Grafton already has an apartment booked for seven weeks with Chris Brammer, the UKIPT Season 1 leader board champion. The win has certainly eased some of the financial pressures that Las Vegas can exert.
“I can do that a lot more comfortably now. There’s less pressure. When it comes to credit card roulette you’re still sweating it but it’s not a case of staying in and eating sandwiches for the next week if you lose the CCR!
“It was great last year kicking off with Jake (Cody) and Pez getting a bracelet. Whenever someone got a result they paid for the result and box off the club. I had so many freeroll nights I was lik, ‘Oi oi!’ I’m really excited and going into it with my confidence really high. Someone’s going to do something really silly out there,” said Grafton.
The break was coming to a close and Grafton bounced back towards the tournament floor to spin up his starting stack. He ‘called a man with ace-high’ and was wrong which had dropped him down to 6,000 but quad aces and a set of kings later put Grafton back up to 15,000. If you have this guy at your table don’t expect an easy ride, you won’t get one. — RD
People are still buying into the tournament and amongst the latecomers is none other than Andy Black, I saw him get his seating assignment, he was clutching his seat card in one hand and a hastily purchased sandwich in the other. — NW
2.35pm: Action table
There’s already been three eliminations from table 17 today, which in my mind at least gives it a status as an action table, a hub of big chunky pots whilst the blinds are still low if you like.
And if by magic as I wandered past it, a big pot was in progress. I joined the action live to see a flop of Q♣6♠9♥ on the felt and roughly 3,500 in the pot. From the big blind Phillip McAllister fired out a bet of 1,650 and Terry Plummer (button) made the call.
The 2♦ fell on the turn McAllister bet again, this time 3,800 and again Plummer flat called. The K♥ completed the board, McAllister stood up to get a better look at Plummer’s stack before asking how much he had left (about 18,000), he then fired out a curious bet of 3,300, less than he had bet on the previous street. After around 15 seconds of thought Plummer slid out a raise, betting 7,900 in total.
Again McAllister stood up to gauge Plummer’s remaining chips, after a few head shakes and grimaces he folded the K♠ face-up, Plummer showed 7♠5♠ for the missed gutshot draw that he turned into a river bluff. — NW
2.22pm: Back from the break
The remaining players are now back in their seats and level three is underway.
There’s no easy way to say this but: George Stewart, Marinos Mina, Richard Heelas, Kevin Steele, Dag Ahlse, Michael Watson, Gareth Parry, Darren Sweeney, Stephen Kenna, Roman Dohnal, Romero Borze, Daniel Perez, Jamil Ogunmakinwa, Michalis Michael, Julian Thew and Tomlin Colburn are not back in their seats as they were all eliminated during the first two levels. — NW
2.02pm: Break time
That’s two levels in the books, players are now on a 20 minute break. — NW
1.50pm: Blain picks one off
When you think of Ireland and poker, names like Padraig Parkinson, Fintan Gavin, Roy Brindley and Andy Black come to mind. There are all of the chatty, eccentric, up for the craic type personalities but there is another rarer breed of Irish poker player, the get it quietly type.
One player who fits that mould is Dermot Blain, no table histrionics, no fuss just impeccable table presence and consistency. The young Irishman has a string of impressive cashes to his name including winning the APPT Maccau Main Event in 2009 and a fifth place finish in the WSOPE Main Event in 2011.
I just saw a hand that encapsulated all this, he called a raise of 275 from Matthew Gilmartin and the two of them checked all the way to the river on a board of 2♠Q♠6♣8♥J♥. At his juncture Gilmartin threw out a bet of 400, no insta-call here from Blain, he made a face that looked like he was chewing a wasp, thought for about 15 seconds and then called.
Gilmartin showed 8♠7♠ but Blain had A♣J♠ to take the pot. — NW
1.35pm: One for the cameras
Small round of applause for Damien Quinlivan who just three-barrel bluffed 8♥5♥ into a A♦J♦5♦6♠3♠ board. Well, I assume it was a bluff. That would be some pretty thin value betting if not.
Mike Hill had opened the pot for 225 and had picked up three callers, including Quinlivan in the small blind and Mark Spelman in the big.
Quinlivan led 450 and was called by Spelman. The others passed
Quinlivan fired another 1,000 into the pot. Spelman called again.
Quinlivan confidently – perhaps too confidently – threw 2,600 into the middle. Spelman tank-folded.
Quinlivan took a look at his cards, looked up, caught my eye and showed the table the bluff. Bravo, sir. It was one for the cameras. Mike Hill was still chortling as I walked away. — RD
1.10pm: Tables chips and exits
The table draw has thrown up the odd doozy, which we’ll be keeping an eye on. Like table 42 where Dean Lyall, Jeff Burke, Bastiaan Van Den Brink and Daiva Barauskaite are sat in a row. That table has already seen one elimination, earlier we reported how Van Den Brink had doubled up but didn’t have the name of the first player out. We can now report that the unlucky player to exit was Antonius Van Venrooij.
Meanwhile Richard Sinclair (18,000) and Iwan Jones (17,000) have got off to good starts whilst things have gone south so far for Julian Thew (7,000) and Nick Newport (13,900). — NW
12.50pm: Seat open
By this time on Day 1A two players (including Nick Abou Risk) had been sent to the rail, both as the result of aces versus kings (although the kings won on one occasion). Today it took a bit longer to lose the first player, around 50 minutes in fact.
The identity of the eliminated player is unknown but Bastiaan Van Den Brink was the beneficiary and he told me what happened: “I opened the button with , he three-bet with  and I called. The flop came  he c-bet, I called. The turn was a ten he fired a second barrel and I called. The river was a blank, he shoved all-in and I called.”
So two pair against smaller two pair accounts for the first player today, much more interesting than boring aces versus kings. — NW
12.35pm: Walking the floor
This looks to be a great event to play. A lot of players that you might not want to see at your table – think of the likes of Jake Cody, Matt Perrins, JP Kelly, James Keys, Chris Brammer, Rupiner Bedi – aren’t here because of the upcoming World Series, some have headed out early, and because of SCOOP, which has been hitting some unbelievable numbers.
That’s a chunk of tough players who would severely reduce your tournament expectation so to the 500 or so that are playing this €770 main event, well done, you’ve made a fantastic decision.
Among the players today that do have some previous are EPT winner Julian Thew, EPT and UKIPT regular Dermot Blain, Dean ‘deanosupremo’ Lyall and SCOOP hero Sam ‘SamSquid’ Grafton. We’ll be catching up with Grafton at the break to speak to him about his $234,193 bink. He doesn’t know it yet, but we will.
Thew is at a table nearby sporting a small red and yellow dollar bill badge. It’s not a bounty button, it’s a lucky charm from one of his kids: “I thought I’d check out its luckbox potential. I’ll give it a couple of hours,” said Thew.
Fifteen minutes of the first level remain. — RD
12.20pm: Who’s here?
There’s a much larger field today than yesterday and amongst the 300 or so runners is a sprinkling of stardust. So far I’ve spotted EPT winner Julian Thew, UKIPT Champion of Champions Richard Sinclair who’s resplendent in his usual Day 1 Ed Hardy hoodie.
Also spotted were UKIPT Galway runner-up Ronan Gilligan, UKIPT Nottingham S2 fourth place finisher Tim Bettingen, Paul Jackson, Nicholas Newport and UKIPT Killarney champion Femi Fakinle.
True to form Fakinle was involved in a pot as I passed his table, he bet 600 on the river of a 8♣6♦8♥4♥9♠, his opponent called but mucked when Fakinle showed 8♠6♥ for a full house. Keep an eye on the chip counts page, where we’ll be keeping track of the names, notables and big stacks as stories develop on Day 1B. — NW
12pm: And we’re off…
The clock is running/the cards are in the air/add your own ‘the tournament has begun’ euphemism here. — RD
11.50pm: Day 1B revving up
Today’s looking like a busy one. Plenty of players milling around and making their way to the tables. We had 199 player yesterday, 91 of whom made it through the eight one-hour levels. We’ll be playing the same today: no dinner break and done by 9pm. Lovely. The board is currently showing 300 players so we can expect a field of 500-plus.
We can break the news that the defending champion Dutchman Joeri Zandvliet will not be defending his title. He’s in Ibiza at the Estrellas Poker Tour trying win a new one instead.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Dublin (in order of score out of ten they give Ballymaloe relish): Rick Dacey (8 – it’s tangy, tasty and just a little bit naughty) and Nick Wright (7 – it’s no Devonian chutney, but it’s close).Photos by Mickey May (Ballymallymoolee what?). James Dempsey and Chris Brammer image credits go to Neil Stoddart.