UKIPT5 Series 2 London: Day 2 Level 23-30(Blinds 50000/100000/1000000)
10:15pm: Giovanni Canali wins UKIPT5 series 2 London!(£12,820) - Otto Castle 2nd (£8,630)
The heads-up was an interesting affair - Canali perhaps getting the better of the cards, putting in a few big three-bets to Castle's button raises.
Castle called several times looking for a benevolent flop but it never seemed to come - Canali's continuation bets always winning him the pot.
A short-stacked Castle began to jam preflop more often - Canali frequently looking at his hand before laughing and throwing away 5-3os and such.
Eventually Canali issued a semi-ultimatum. "I am feeling it, so if you shove next hand, i just might..."
Well, guess what happened? A button shove from Castle and a quick and definitive call from Canali who proudly tabled J♥9♥ - sadly dominated by Castle's A♠9♠.
It looked like Castle might get a foothold in the heads-up at last but it wasn't to be - a board of J♣7♥3♦8♠9♣ securing the pot and the tournament for the Italian.
After a mammoth day, everyone looked shocked at the sudden ending, but the beaming visage of Canali told you all you needed to know about who had come out triumphant.
"I'm ecstatic, really happy. It hasn't sunk in yet. I'll struggle to sleep tonight," gushed Canali following his win.
He collects £12,820 for the win whilst Castle can be proud of his efforts in coming 2nd for £8,630.
Well played both!
To read a wrap of the day's events, click here.
Thanks for following us on our journey to crown a new UKIPT Series champ.
As usual, it's been a blast - thanks to the staff at The Hippodrome Casino for making us feel so welcome.
9:40pm: Savvides bows out in 3rd place (£6,090)
Alexis Savvides has been a thorn in the side of everyone at this final table - a sure sign he has talent.
At last he came unstuck though, raising to 135,000 before Giovanni Canali re-raised to 560,000 - a big three bet.
"Have you got anything?" asked Savvides with one of his trademark giggles.
"Huge, huge" said Canali. "I never lie."
Savvides thought it over - before moving allin, called quickly by Canali with pocket tens.
Savvides nodded in reluctant semi-defeat, tabling pocket sevens and when the board ran out 9♦T♠2♣A♥5♠ - that was it, his day was done.
He kept the grin that has been on his face throughout this tournament and disappeared to collect his prize money.
Well done sir, that leaves Otto Castle and Giovanni Canali vying for the title - Canali with around a 4-1 chip lead.
Who will rise to the challenge?
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 40000-80000-5000
9:25pm: Liu Busts in 4th place (£4,940)
Pocket nines for Liu and 500,000 in his stack meant just one thing. Shove-time.
Giovanni Canali elected to reshove with another big holding four-handed - A♠T♠ and the Itlian hit a decisive flop - the board being dealt out A♦A♣7♥7♠2♥.
Warm handshakes were the order of the day and we continue four-handed - Canali now with the chip lead in this topsy-turvy final.
9:10pm: Battling for the title
Four-handed they have retaken their seats - Alexis Savvides returning with what looks like a lobster's tail (his dinner not a wierd appendage.)
Who can show the greatest skills/ run-good and take this down?
8:50pm: Break time
The players are just taking a twenty minute break to gather their thoughts. Just before the break Otto Castle raised to 50,000, which was three-bet to 170,000 by Giovanni Canali.
Castle took a short while before annoucning all-in for his 597,000 stack and although Canali requested a count - halfway through he said, "Don't worry, I call."
His K♠Q♥ was a dog to Castle's A♥K♣ and the board of A♣5♠3♠J♦5♦ saw him secure a double through.
That hand leaves the chip standings as follows: -
Alexis Savvides - 1,915,000
Otto Castle - 1,390,000
Dahe Liu - 1,085,000
Giovanni Canali - 675,000
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 30000-60000-5000
8:35pm: Liu suffers at hands of Savvides
Dahe Liu just raised the button to 100,000, called by Canale and a giggling Savvides in the blinds.
The board fell 9♣2♣5♥ - Savvides leading for 100,000 - called by Liu.
The turn was the K♥ - again Savvides fired - this time for 170,000 - quick call from Liu.
The river was the 8♠ and again there was a barell from Savvides of 300,000. Liu pushed a chip over the line indicating call - only to get the bad news that Savvides had rivered a highly disguised two pair with 8♦5♠.
Liu mucked. "Big blind special" commented Giovanni Canali as Savvides took the chip lead - allowing himself another giggle.
8:25pm: Liu sees off Reece(5th £3,900)
Dahe Liu has held some pretty cards in recent times, but his reputation as an active player has meant he is getting paid almost everytime he gets them.
The latest coup saw him raise to 100,000 from the button - big blind Ryan Reece jamming allin for just under 300,000.
A quick call from Liu with queens, a resigned-looking Reece flipping sixes and a board of J♣J♥7♥2♦2♥ means we lose Reece in 5th place and we are now 4-handed for the title!
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 25000-50000-5000
8:12pm: Hanlon exits in 6th place (£2,960)
Lee Hanlon has skirted elimination many times on his way to the final 6, but finally, he faced the gauntlet one too many times.
Jamming his 6BB stack (250,000) UTG with J♣8♥, Savvides made the call with A♥T♦ and a board of 5♣7♦K♠7♣6♥ saw the Cypriot home as he jumps up to 1,600,000 and Hanlon is finally shown the door.
Well played sir, enjoy your trip to the cash desk.
8:00pm: O'Shea busts in 7th(£2,165)
Alex Savvides has barely made a mistake at this final table and after raising to 80,000 and seeing Jerome O'Shea shove for around 320,000, he took a moment to consider....then made the call.
It was a brave call with A♣5♦ but a good one - O'Shea tabling the slightly behind K♠J♠.
A board of 8♠8♥8♦9♠7♥ rewarded Savvides' bravery and O'Shea joins the rail in 7th place having made an impressive run to thsi final table.
We continue 6 handed - Savvides now in the chip lead with 1.2 million chips.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 20000-40000-5000
7:45pm: Belvedere busts in 8th (£1,580)
He's not had the best of luck on this final table and Kevin Belvedere's day is now done.
With less than ten big blinds, when the aggressive Dahe Liu raised it up, Belvedere went for a re-steal with J♣T♣, only for Liu to make a swift and easy snap-call with pocket kings.
A board of K♦J♥6♥7♦7♥ left Liu the victor of the confrontation and we lose out first player at this final.
Good game Kevin.
7:23pm: Lucky Lee trips up Canali
Giovanni Canali must be a cool customer as he just took what was a nasty beat with very good grace moments ago.
Making a raise to 75,000, Lee Hanlon checked his stack, shrugged his shoulders, had a little think, then jammed allin for 270,000.
Canali snap-called - Hanlon asking "Ace-queen, ace-king?" hopefully as he tabled pocket fours.
No such luck - the Italian held aces and Hanlon's head was on the metaphorical chopping block.
A board of K♥Q♦9♣2♥ peeled off - Hanlon readying himself to depart - only for the 4♦ to arrive in the nick of time and save him.
"I've had some luck today!" an understandably ecstatic Hanlon said.
"I'd like to say I'm delighted for you but I'd be lying out of my backside," chipped in Jerome O'Shea from the sidelines.
Hanlon up to 540,000 - Canali down to 400,000...
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 15000-30000-4000
7:15pm: Double for Reece
Looking to make things happen, Ryan Reece shoved for his 10BB stack over the button raise from Carmine Belvedere.
Belvedere got a count (around 240,000) and made the call with 8♣8♥ - in great shape to eliminate Reece, who held K♦5♦.
A flop of K♠5♥3♦6♣J♠ changed all that though - Reece doubling to 470,000 whilst a wincing Belvedere takes a hit and is down to roughly the same.
"I was running too good anyway," Belvedere admitted honestly as he handed over a chunk of his stack. Reece just grinned mischievously.
7:10pm: Final Table Profiles
Seat 1: Otto Castle, United Kingdom - 709,000
Otto Castle is 25 years old and works in software. He has played poker for a while but only seriously in the last 6 months. Now, however, he's looking to play more UKIPT and EPT events - in fact, any that look fun, although he has played at several London-based UKIPTs previously. He'd prefer not to mention his biggest poker win, but roughly tied with Alexis Savvides for second place coming to the final here, he's guaranteed at least £1,580 for his performance here over the weekend.
Seat 2: Jerome O'Shea, United Kingdom - 572,000
Jerome O'Shea, 54, began playing poker as a smoking-cessation aid about eight years ago, and the new habit has not only saved him money, it's racked him up $70,000 of live tournament earnings. Online on PokerStars he plays both cash and tournament poker (including a bit of Omaha and occasionally Hi-Lo), but when it comes to live events his job as a sales coordinator stop him playing "as many as I'd like." O'Shea will need a podium finish to beat his best prior live score (£6,050) but having held the chip lead he won on Day 1a for most of today, his average stack now won't faze him.
Seat 3: Dahe Liu, China - 1,014,000
Dahe Liu, 30, has been playing both the UKIPT Series and main tour for a few years, but due to time commitments (he runs his own Birmingham-based business) he can't leave to follow the full major tournament schedule Europe-wide. This hasn't stopped him cashing for over $100,000 live since 2008, including a 10th place finish at UKIPT Isle of Man in 2013. Liu comes to the final table as chip leader, insisting, "I don't gamble a lot. I haven't lost any really big pots," and that his smooth ascent to the chip lead today was down to this cautious approach. The most regularly seen on the tour of any of the finalists, his million chips are going to be an obstacle for the others.
Seat 4: Kevin Belvedere, Italy (PokerStars Qualifier) - 534,000
Carmine Kevin Belvedere, at 19, is the youngest finalist, still studying physics at Surrey University while making time for poker via a short commute to London. He plays cash games here in town, but has only ever played four live tournaments (in which he can boast three cashes); the UKIPT Series represents his first foray into tour events after he won his seat online on PokerStars. Fresh from a recent four-figure £20 rebuy win at the Empire, the enthusiastic Belvedere is another finalist who would play more live tournaments if they were available, even if he does admit to having exams in two weeks.
Seat 5: Giovanni Canali, Italy - 659,000
Giovanni Canali is a 40 year old Managing Director working in telecommunications. He started playing online 10-15 years ago, but having made the transition to playing live has enjoyed it so much that he now plays much more live poker. This is his first UKIPT, and he's loving it (this he revealed while laughing and pointing at his stack). His recent big win - £1,800 at a tournament in Reading - represents his best cash to date, but he just needs to avoid exiting the final first to outdo it.
Seat 6: Ryan Reece, United Kingdom - 241,000
Ryan Reece is a 25 year old shipping agent - involved in customs and immigration: "Lots of paperwork," he revealed with a sigh. He started playing poker at 15 years of age with his friends. "We used to play for £1 each," he revealed, "You could only win a tenner but we'd play till three in the morning!" Reece moved on to casinos, finding his niche in tournaments, which he prefers playing to cash games. Three weeks ago he achieved his biggest cash - 4th in an online tournament for €2,500, but he still prefers playing live as a rule. This is his first UKIPT.
Seat 7: Alexis Savvides, Cyprus - 748,000
Alexis Savvides, 24, hails from Cyprus but has been living in London for the past seven years. He says that he loves the pace and excitement of the city, where he works as a financier. His biggest ever live cash was for £10,000, and he really wants to beat that by taking the UKIPT Series title, although his regular game of choice is cash rather than tournaments. Savvides lies in joint second place coming into the final and has not struggled for chips during Day 2.
Seat 8: Lee Hanlon, United Kingdom - 481,000
Lee Hanlon has been playing poker for seven years, enough to describe himself at 34 as a semi-pro "online grinder" playing under the name taffyfella on PokerStars. He's previously come 3rd in a SCOOP event for $10,000 and won $42,000 in the Sunday Warm-Up but this UKIPT Series represents his very first live event and a turning point in the game for him, in terms of the buzz of the tournament. Hanlon's stack might be near the bottom of the pack on the final table, but this is unlikely discourage him; he's already locked up £1,580 in his first foray off the virtual felt, in a tournament for which he qualified online.
7:00pm: Final Underway!
So we're underway with just 8 players remaining from the 250 who started out this journey toward UKIPT Series glory.
To read updates from levels 21-22, click here.
PokerStars Blog reporting team at UKIPT5 Series 2 - London: Rod Stirzaker. Photos by Micky May.