UKIPT Galway: Welcome to UKIPT Season 2
They battled through rain, snow and the combined failings of Ryan Air and British Rail to get here, but to the over 220 players that managed it, we salute you. Welcome back to them, and to you, to the PokerStars UKIPT.
This season, like last, kicks off in Galway, Ireland, the first of nine events that takes us through Nottingham, Manchester, Cork, Newcastle, Brighton, Edinburgh, Dublin and the grand final, EPT London deep into the other side of 2011.
Joining last year's Galway winner, local boy Padraig Parkinson, are other UKIPT champs including Jamie Burland, Max Silver, David Vamplew and Nick Abou Risk, along with last season's leader board winner Chris Brammer and Team PokerStars Pros Jude Ainsworth and Liv Boeree.
Snow may have ground planes, trains and automobiles to a freezing halt but - more importantly some here might say - it also delayed the start of the UKIPT season. Rather than playing a leisurely four-day tournament starting on Thursday the weather extremes have squeezed us into three days (no Day 1a and 1b nonsense for UKIPT Galway). The lucky 190-odd that were here yesterday got to warm up with a €10,000 freeroll yesterday afternoon. Results of the players that found themselves opening an early Christmas present will be posted up here shortly.
A few eager players are already filtering into the tournament room which is a hive of activity at its western end where a TV stage is being busily constructed by roadies.*
Team PokerStars Pros Jude Ainsworth and Julian Thew getting ready for action
Stay with us for the entire tournament, overnight chip counts, bubble bursts and final table coverage. Level 1 is due to start at noon. See you then.
*Okay, I'm sure they're not called roadies in the television world but it sounds more rock and roll to do so.