UKIPT Galway: YES, WE CAN!
For some reason, possibly only fathomable to Padraig Parkinson, a small contingent of the Irish players spent much of the earlier levels of the day cheering President Barack Obama's campaign catchphrase, 'YES, WE CAN!' If it was a call to arms for the irish players to keep the inaugural Galway title in Irish hand then it seems highly likely that they could their campaign promise. Five of the remaning nine players are Irish but as we all know in poker a flip is just a flip and anything can happen.
While Parkinson undoubtedly has the most live experience and almost won the WSOP Main Event back in 1999 there are a number of internet young guns who won't be put off by his antics. Another player that won't be afraid of giving as good as he gets is Paul Marrow, a gregarious scouser* who hasn't been afraid to get involved in big pots or give a bit of needle. All nine players have had to battle through a 259 player field and are now at the business end of the €471,380 prize pool. The winner will claim €125,000 as well as entry into the £5,000 EPT London main event, the end of season finale of the UKIPT.
(*A scouser is someone from Liverpool, England - just in case you're not up to speed with your UK regions.)
THE FINAL TABLE
Paul Marrow from Liverpool, United Kingdom (50)
Final table chip count: 1,000,500
Chipleader Paul has been playing poker for around 4 years and is a man with a point to prove. 'I'm known as a bit of a lunatic player and I'm always getting friends like Neil Channing telling me to just play poker and stop being stupid.' Marrow, who plays cash games online and live a couple of times a week, headed to the event knowing that he was going to win it. Whether the other players have something to say about it is another matter.
Ben Lefew from Harvard, Illinois (24)
Final table chip count: 928,500
Lefew qualified for the UKIPT Galway through a $8.88 rebuy at the beginning of December, but that's not to say this is an ordinary low stakes player. The full time pro's biggest score was in the WCOOP main event where he finished 6th for $375,000 under the name Chong94. He's been playing around 5 years and qualified for the event for a total of $26 because he 'wanted to do some travelling and this was a cheap way to do it.'
Padraig Parkinson from Paris, France (52)
Final table chip count: 693,500
Irishman Padraig Parkinson needs little introduction as one of Irish poker's most famous sons. A professional poker player for 20 years Parkinson has successfully turned his hand to commentating and broadcasting as well as doing a lot of charity work for the homeless. Parkinson finished third in the WSOP Main Event in 1999 for $489,125 when fellow Irishman Noel Furlong won.
Michael McFadgen from Toronto, Canada (23)
Final table chip count: 585,500
One of a few young professional poker players at the table, McFadgen has been playing for 5 years and owns training site SNGMentors.com. His friend kardlo69, who is in line for a percentage of his winnings, won 3 seats for the event at PokerStars and passed one on McFadgen.
Michael Graydon from Dublin, Ireland (24)
Final table chip count: 585,000
BIGMICKG as he is known online is a feared sit-and-go player who topped sit-and-go leader boards last year. The former supernova elite made the money at this year's World Series of Poker $10,000 Main Event for $25,027. Graydon qualified for the UKIPT through PokerStars.
Cat O'Neill from Dublin, Ireland (27)
Final table chip count: 535,000
Online fraud analyst Cat O'Neill has been playing poker for two years and tries to play as frequently as possible. She was bought into the event by her boyfriend, Rob Taylor, who also played and cashed in 34th place for €2,800. O'Neill said, 'He buys me in and I spend the winnings!'
Paul Dooley from Letterkenny, Ireland (37)
Final table chip count: 376,500
After playing for four years it seems Paul Dooley has worked out what it's all about. Fresh off a final table finish in the Irish Masters for €22,400 the part-time player is well positioned to make another sizeable score if the cards run his way. When not at work at a bank he also likes to play golf.
Vinny Cosgrove from Tuam, Ireland
Final table chip count: 301,000
Hometown hero Vinny Cosgrove hails from Tuam, a small town in County Galway. Cosgrove has had the most vocal support of the tournament and could make the final table an electrifying event if he gets an early double up.
Trevor Bulless from Essex, United Kingdom (65)
Part-time player Bulless has been playing for 8 years at a local casino and since retiring from the motor industry poker has become a favourite pastime. Although he's scored a few final tables during his poker career this is by far and away his biggest with a guaranteed payout of at least €9,000. If he wins big he intends to use some of it to bankroll entry into bigger tournaments such on the EPT circuit.