Geordie Score: Richard Sinclair wins UKIPT Newcastle and £67,000
Getting dealt pocket aces heads up doesn't happen often. Getting them all-in for your first major title even less so but that's what happened to UKIPT Newcastle champion Richard Sinclair, who becomes the first Scotsman to win a regular leg of the circuit, pocketing £67,000 and the UKIPT Newcastle trophy in the process.
Sinclair came into the final table as chip leader and never looked likely to drop it. He was the player that everyone feared and it showed. The Scotsman had grabbed the chip lead in the first half of Day 3 and simply refused to let it go for the following ten or eleven levels. It was a stellar performance of power poker and it's easy to understand why he's had a second place finish in the Sunday Warm Up for over $100,000 and cashed in the WSOP Main Event the last two years running.
Raj Verma, who entered the final table second in chips, was to give Sinclair his toughest test, despite suffering a brutal bad beat to Tim Slater early on. Verma's kings were cracked by jacks to knock him down to just nine big blinds. Although he was ultimately gutted not to win, Verma should be commended for the manner in which he handled that beat and also for the way he mounted his comeback. He shoved and harried his way back from the 300,000 he was left with eight-handed to the 3,300,000 he took into the heads up. 'Never say die' should feature on his family crest.
Sinclair acknowledged the feat after the heads up, which was quickly settled with Sinclair's A♣A♦ holding against Verma's K♥Q♥ on a J♦9♠8♠ flop: "I think Raj played the best at the final table, especially to come back from the beat he took, but I got the right cards at the time." Modest but praising words from Sinclair. Either would have been a worthy champion, but giving out two trophies just isn't an option.
Although the victory shot will always show the winning bullets, the key moment of the final table came when Sinclair made a huge move four-handed. Sinclair opened the button for 140,000 at the 30,000-60,000 blind level which was called by Verma in the small blind and Rakesh Paul Gupta in the big. All three checked through to the 6♣7♠9♠Q♣ turn on which Sinclair fired a delayed c-bet of 160,000. Both Verma and Gupta called again.
At this point Verma tried to seize the initiative by leading 425,000 into the 7♥ river. Gupta passed but Sinclair moved all-in, piling on the pressure as he had been throughout the tournament. Verma rose to his feet, pulled his hood over his head and started talking to himself. He wanted to make the call but with so much on the line he forced himself to pass T♣9♣ (he informed us later). Sinclair showed J♠4♣ for a huge air ball bluff. Had Verma called he would have taken the chip lead.
We caught up with Sinclair to ask him about the hand, which he explained: "I raised and got two flat calls so at this point I pretty much gave up. But when they both checked to me twice it gave me an invitation to bet. When they both just called I put them on draws or weak hands. Then when Raj led the river I was sure he didn't have a monster and I knew he was good enough that he'd view my bet as a big hand." Being able to read the play is one thing but being able to act on it when the stakes are high is the sign of a true champion. Sinclair pulled the trigger and all but sealed his tournament title.
1st: Richard Sinclair, United Kingdom, £67,000
2nd: Raj Verma, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £40,400
3rd: Rakesh Paul Gupta, United Kingdom, £24,700
4th: Barry Foley, Ireland, £18,100
5th: Tim Slater, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £14,050
6th: Jonathan Gawith, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qulaifier, £11,210
7th: Tadhg Ryan, Ireland, £8,580
8th: James Morris, United Kingdom, PokerStars Player, £6,510
The final table took less than five hours showing the concertina effect of last night stretching a couple of hours longer than expected. Only Barry Foley was truly short stacked but he performed some incredible laddering to finish in fourth for £18,100. Had he not left half of his stack in the middle pre-flop to an all-in squeeze from Verma perhaps he would have gone further still. Given the money on the line, such mistakes are understandable.
Morris was the first player out today and will count it as an opportunity missed. The strength of his game, however, dictates that this will not be his last chance to make a good score. Morris showed a solid game and it just wasn't his final table, as typified when he lost A♦5♦ all-in to Gupta's K♦Q♦.
Next out was Tadhg Ryan. The young Irishman sported a plaster cast on his right hand due to a hurling injury. If he's as fearless on the field as he is on the felt then we suggest that you don't pick up a stick anywhere near him. He shoved 5♥4♥ from the small blind and was busted by Verma who correctly looked him up with A♣6♣.
Online qualifier Jonathan Gawith was thrilled with his £11,120 spin up from £25. So much so that he didn't seem irked by the manner in which he was busted by Gupta. Gawith had shoved his final seven big blinds into the middle from the button with A♦5♣ and had been nitrolled by Gupta in the big blind with A♣J♠. A well-known poker face nearby said: "If someone did that to me at a big final table I wouldn't shake his hand." Gawith failed to suck out and shook everyone's hand before departing.
Chatty Tim Slater was the next to go. He'd cracked Verma earlier in a cooler hand - those aforementioned jacks to kings - and on another day would have gone further. Verma was to get his revenge when Slater shoved king-jack into his big slick big blind. Slater failed to catch but takes home £14,050 and will no doubt feature in future UKIPTs.
Foley bust in fourth, far better than would have been expected given his short-stacked entry to the final table. The Irishman played a tight game and bar that call where he left half his stack in the middle he didn't do much wrong. Sinclair finally knocked out the tenacious Foley with 6♠5♠ to K♣8♥. Foley adds £18,100 to his live winnings. Gupta went one spot further and got his stack in with K♦T♦ against Verma's pocket eights in a battle of the blinds. No king, no ten and Gupta was sent to the rail with £24,700.
Both Sinclair and Verma have cashed in the World Series Main Event before and have their Las Vegas flights pre-booked. Remember their names this summer, they might just take the UKIPT onto the next level. If you fancy taking a pop at the next UKIPT you'll find satellites running for UKIPT Brighton now. The £500 main event runs 14-17 July.
To catch up on all the day's action click on the links below and if you want to see who cashed where then click here.
All images are copyright of Mickey May and must be credited as such. You will get a letter from the Danish embassy. Maybe.