I apologise if this is a bit hastily written, but you have to understand the more time I spend indoors writing this for you, the less time I'm out in the 29 degree sun drinking Pina Coladas. (Although you can see exactly what went on at the event by clicking here)
The UKIPT got its bucket and spades out and teamed up with the ESPT for the first ever Marbella Poker Festival. Players voted with their feet and declared the event a big hit exceeding expectations with a 763 runner field and a first prize well north of €150,000. That's was more than enough for several buckets and spades, not to mention an eight-person banana boat inflatable to celebrate your win with your closest, drunkest friends on the open ocean.
I played the event... for a bit. My most exciting conflict of the day was - somewhat unfortunately - with the casino floor staff. I didn't need to speak Spanish to understand they weren't delighted with my choice of shorts and sandals for Day 1. Apparently there was a dress code... at a poker tournament. I laughed, they frowned, I stopped laughing. They let me get away with it for one day, just so long as I smartened my act up 'tomorrow'. I sneakily didn't last until Day 2 so the joke was on them.
On my first table, I played with a good humoured Spanish lady who was chain-drinking back-to-back Bellinis. Sometimes when people drink it loosens up their play, however she was playing every hand and it was midday, so either a) she always plays every hand and drinks Bellinis, or b) she started at breakfast. Either way she was a joy to play with as were most of the players in the tournament. UKIPTs are always played in good spirits, but this event was particularly fun. Kudos to the Spanish players for playing the game in the right way.
My tournament was really unremarkable. I built my stack up early with a couple of nice bluffs and half-decent hands to around 30,000 (from a 20,000 starting stack), but then I was dealt some real hands and the wheels came off. I had Aces cracked and top pair run down twice. They were all really standard spots that I don't feel I lost any more in than I should have, but it was all enough to put me well below the average. I battled on with a dwindling stack for most of the evening but eventually hit the rail when my 11 big blind shove with pocket eights ran into tens. I bust with about 30 minutes of the day left to play.
Busting out is never fun but if you had to pick a place to get knocked out a tournament this would be on the list. I wasn't the only one to have their UKIPT dream crushed but their love of life restored by the sun, pool and good times with other players.
For most players, the weekend was a chance to play some fun poker and have an early summer holiday with the (slightly messy) PokerStars party finale on the Saturday night at the super fashionable Ocean Club. It's very generous of Stars to provide an open bar but perhaps they could also provide some means for the players to retain their personal dignity. Maybe we could set something up a system of using FPPs to pay for the deletion of photographs the morning after?
Right, I'm off to pitch other venues we could add to the UKIPT. I mean one holiday a year is hardly enough, is it? What about Cancun? That's pretty near Devon...as the crow flies... I bet they have some badass Pinas down there.
Nick Wealthall is a poker commentator for PokerStars. Check out the full Season 4 UKIPT schedule here.