Gareth Walker wins record-breaking UKIPT Nottingham and £109,000
Gareth Walker has topped a UK record-breaking 1,058 field to win the UKIPT Nottingham crown and £109,000. After four gruelling days of poker and a ten-hour final table, Walker proved he was a marathon man with a sprint finish to beat Brett Angell's J♥T♦ with 6♣9♣. He hit a flush to become the champion of the largest tournament to ever grace British shores.
Walker came into today as a man on a mission, having made back-to-back UKIPT Nottingham final tables. He finished eighth last year for £7,600 and coming so close to the big money but falling must have been painful. The same almost happened again this time around.
After building a big stack earlier in the day he found himself arriving at the final table as the short stack. Perhaps paranoid of repeating last year's finish he seemed to adopt a solid policy of laddering before racing into the chip lead three-handed. "Today was a massive grind but the structure allows you to be patient, to wait and find spots where there's not too much risk," he explained of his strategy.
The Geordie, who works full time in web development, will be playing the rest of the UKIPTs. He is certainly one to watch out for.
On the other hand, today was a day that Brett Angell is unlikely to forget in a hurry having had a year's worth of variance squeezed into just a few hundred hands. The runner-up, who pocketed £68,700, lost a one million chip pot to Ian Gilchrist as a 98.7% favourite when play was still across two tables. He had check-shoved with middle set into Gilchrist who called off with top pair and hit two perfect cards to win the pot. "Jesus wept," said the Angell.
Divine intervention was to appear twice more. First when he knocked out Chris Dowling in sixth place with A♥Q♦ to A♣Q♠ by hitting a four-flush, another 2% shot, and then when he had his aces cracked three-handed in yet another major pot. Walker shoved from the button with K♠Q♠ and Angell called in the big blind with the bullets. The board ran out J♠Q♦6♣J♦Q♥ to river trips for Walker.
Apart from the polarised luck of Angell it was the histrionics of Pizzo that will probably strike Channel 4 viewers the most. Equipped with scarf, two hats, winter jacket and a newspaper, Pizzo appeared to have turned up for a walk in the park rather than a televised poker tournament, yet it was the Italian that provided most of the banter.
Occasionally charming, frequently cantankerous and at times surprisingly funny, Pizzo's poker was unorthodox to say the least; limps, over sized pre-flop raises and checking blind across the streets were all part of Pizzo's repertoire. It did seem to be working though. As the action turned three-handed he was sat on 10 million of the 15.8 in play. Then it all went wrong and he was the next player out. Critically he doubled Gareth Walker up to 6 million with K♦Q♥ to the Geordie's A♠Q♠ and then busted to the same player with a dominated ace pre-flop.
Pizzo's eccentric ways had some rolling their eyes but as fifth place finisher Mike Hill told us, "There's no malice in him, it's just the way he plays." Talking of Hill, the UKIPT regular made can list another deep run to his poker resume. He started the day as chip leader but eventually busted in fifth for £24,350. He went out to Pizzo when picking the wrong time to shove with air; Pizzo had rivered a full house.
All in all it's been an epic event and one that looks likely to - somehow - get even bigger. Join us again in Manchester, which runs 10-14 March. Satellites are running now on PokerStars.eu. Will you be the next UKIPT champion?
The final table
1. Gareth Walker, UK £109,000
2. Brett Angell, UK, PokerStars qualifier, £68,700
3. Romano Pizzo, Italy, £40,750
4. Tim Bettingen, Germany, PokerStars qualifier, £31,700
5. Mike Hill, UK, £24,350
6. Chris Dowling, Ireland, £19,050
7. Thomas Rolfe, UK, £13,750
8. David Heaton, UK, £7,950
To review the day's action click on the links below or you can click here to navigate to coverage from the entire event. If you'd like to see the full list of the 128 players that made the money then click here.
All images should be credited to Neil Stoddart to whom copyright is retained. He has the grace of a ballet dancer, the heart of a lion and the malice of a woman crossed. You have been warned.