Gift of the Gav: Fintan Gavin wins UKIPT Edinburgh and £61,500
In poker there are players that are well liked and there are those that can talk the hind leg off a donkey. Not many can bring those two qualties together and still play winning poker, Fintan Gavin is one of the few. Now, finally, the Irishman has that major title he's been chasing since his runner-up finish at the 2008 EPT Barcelona final table, beating a 519 strong field to claim the UKIPT trophy. Although the £61,500 prize money will be valued, Gavin's already said he's chasing double winner Nick Abou Risk for a second title.
Before we go into the rest of the day's play lets set the scene. Settle back, kick off your shoes and pour yourself a drink. A mighty 519 players satellited or bought their way into this £500 main event contributing to a £251,715 prize pool. After two full days of play - three, if you include both Day 1's - we had 12 players left and Fintan Gavin in the chip lead with 1,900,000. Three players had to go today before the final nine could converge on one single table. The players to walk were George Devine (12th, £2,750), Alan Kirk (11th, £3,150) and Alexander Wanner (10th, £3,150), all three of whom were knocked out by George Clyde-Smith, who himself had started the day painfully short.
The story of the final table was quickly set with Jamie Dale and Fintan Gavin clashing.
"You're a sicko, a total adrenaline junkie," the Irishman told Dale after Gavin check-raised Dale off a 4♦6♠T♣4♥. It pushed Gavin towards the two million mark making the possibility of the Irishman steamrolling the table that much more real. It was just the beginning of the Gavin double-talk, telling his opponents one thing before doing the other and happily acting out the role of the old live rock outwardly - "Pick on someone else. I'm too old for that craic" - but showing he was more than happy to gamble and take the young guns on at their own game. He performed a number of live mis-clicks, they seemed genuine but only Gavin knows for sure.
It took the best part of three hours before anyone else was knocked out and it was Kevin Letham who was the fall guy, A♦7♥ no good against Craig Brown's A♣K♠. Maths teacher Rob Swindells was the next to go, falling foul in the same way, a dominated ace failing to suck out. Thomas Ward was the recipient of his chips and shortly after he won a huge pot to all but eliminate Antonis Poulengeris who had made, as he admitted, a 'bad move.' He wasn't the only player chipping up, Dale had won a flip against Gavin for around a third of the chips in play to claim the chip lead just a few hands earlier.
Craig Brown was next to go, unfortunately finding the shove button with 6♥5♥ in the small blind when big stack Dale had A♦K♦ in the big blind. He may count himself a little unlucky to have busted before George Clyde-Smith who was frequently all-in without a caller, often surviving on stolen blinds and antes alone. Clyde-Smith went the very next hand with K♦9♠ into Jamie Dale's 8♣8♦ leaving just four players.
Those two bust outs had padded Dale's stack out to bursting point. He hadn't put a foot wrong throughout the final table, exerting pressure when he should and fading into the background when it was necessary. He hadn't panicked and he certainly hadn't smiled. Ever.
Dale looked unstoppable, the other three players crippled by the money jumps and aggression of the massive chip leader. Then the pressure boiler blew. Dale clashed with Andrew Hawksby in a huge pot at the wrong time, floating the A♠8♥T♦ flop with king-high when Hawksby was betting a set of aces. It resulted in a 3,000,000 pot going to Hawksby and when he knocked out Thomas Ward moments later with A♣Q♠ trumping Q♥J♠ Hawksby found himself with two-thirds of the chips in play.
Dale wasn't likely to sit around and play for second and it wasn't long before he got involved in a flip situation with Hawksby. Gavin, only marginally larger stacked than Dale, walked from the table into his rail of supporters, knowing he was heavily invested in this flip too, a guaranteed £14,500 uptick in the balance. Hawksby won to take a three-to-one lead into the heads-up.
Gavin, a key partner of the UKIPT in Ireland, looked thrilled to be heads up and relieved not to be facing Dale, he later said: "He (Dale) put me on uber-tilt. I couldn't have played him heads up, he would have crucified me." Lucky for Gavin not only was he facing Hawksby but he won a huge flip to all but level the playing field on just the second hand. Hawksby played a great game but Gavin, a rail thick with his supporters, was not to be beaten and after an just an hour of heads up play, during which he found some premium hands, the Irishman landed the killing blow, completing a stoic comeback. Both players held top pair on a nine-high flop, Gavin the larger kicker. The board blanked and the rail erupted.
They'll be sore heads tomorrow morning, but you can bet your life that UKIPT champion Gavin will be waking up with a smile on his face.
1st: Fintan Gavin, Ireland, PokerStars player, £61,500
2nd: Andrew Hawksby, United Kingdom, £37,400
3rd Jamie Dale, United Kingdom, PokerStars qualifier, £22,900
4th: Thomas Ward, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £16,850
5th: George Clyde-Smith, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £13,100
6th: Craig Brown, United Kingdom, PokerStars qualifier, £10,500
7th Antonis Poulengeris, United Kingdom, PokerStars player £8,050
8th: Rob Swindells, United Kingdom, PokerStars player, £6,300
To catch up on all of the day's action click on the links below and if you want to see who cashed and where then click here.
All images are copyright of Mickey May and should be credited as such.