EPT11 London: Kevin Killeen - poker beast

Before February of this year it's fair to say that outside of his close group of friends Kevin Killeen was better known for wearing monster themed hats when playing poker than running up monster stacks in live tournaments. Although a proficient mid to high stakes online tournament player he'd yet to make a splash in live poker circles. He had lifetime winnings of just over $14,000 between 2010 and 2013. Then came UKIPT Dublin.

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Killeen has played monstrously well in London

Playing in his home city Killeen defeated a field of 682 to win a first prize of €87,700 and he was cheered on by a raucous rail including friends, poker buddies and even his mum! "I'm going to have to make the final eight then get on to them later to see if they can make it," he told us with nine players left. If he does, and they can, then expect some fun (and noise) on the rail tomorrow.

His victory in Dublin was on March 3rd and to anyone who doesn't recognise him now, it's because back then he had a face full of fuzz. He'd had a bet, with himself more than anyone, that he wouldn't shave until he had a $50,000 score and his UKIPT triumph easily eclipsed that mark. The bet had started on January the 1st and the beard had to go.

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You can't beat the beard

The purple hat he wore when winning the tournament remains though and he's been sporting his 'lucky' hat the past few days. "It's looking like it's my lucky hat, but I don't believe in the run good or anything like that, said Killeen as he relaxed on the rail during a break in play. "I packed it with me and when I made Day 3 I thought I'd stick in on. It's always got good reactions when I wear a funny hat."

With his deep run here in London Killeen is the latest player to have translated success on the UKIPT tour into big scores on the big stage. When Killeen got heads-up at UKIPT Dublin he was facing Max Silver, himself a UKIPT winner not to mention the fact that he's final tabled the WSOPE Main Event, a WSOP $10,000 event and EPT10 Prague. Silver was chip leader and had Killeeen all-in for the win four times but Killeen was nothing if not resilient.

As well as Silver the likes of Ludovic Geilich (1st, UKIPT4 Marbella, 4th, EPT10 London), and Jason Tompkins (5th, UKIPT2 Dublin, 5th, EPT9 San remo) have done the UKIPT and EPT double - in terms of final tables - and Killeen is next in line.

Shortly after his win in Dublin he upped sticks and went to live in Mexico in Playa Del Carmen when he continued grinding online, living with Scott 'Aggro Santos' Margereson.

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Killeen is at ease on the bigger stage

He then went to Las Vegas to play the WSOP Main Event for the first time and even went to Panama to play the LAPT. He's been back in Dublin since August and back on the online grind. He's already had success in London, making the final two tables of the UKIPT High Roller and he's taking the step up in his stride. "It's been tough but bar all the super high roller who were in it, I play against most of the guys online in tournaments everyday. I haven't felt out of my depth at all. I'm just playing my game like."

He's the coolest man in the room too, "I mean I always thought if I made a big final table I'd be nervous. The UKIPT was a big final table for me at the start of the year. I thought I'd be nervous, I wasn't at all at the UKIPT, I thought I'd be nervous as we got to the EPT final table, but I'm not at all I'm just dealing with it how it comes to me I'll play my game. I'm not scared of anyone."

Follow our coverage of the EPT London festival via the main EPT London page, where there are hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top and feature pieces below. And, of course, you can follow it all live at EPT Live.

Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour