UKIPT Cork: PokerStars qualifier Sam MacDonald leads Day 1A field


Eleven levels, eleven hours of play; it's a solid test of any poker player's mettle but it was Sam MacDonald, not for the first time this season, that stood above all come the end of play. Some 320 players had bowled up to enter the €500 main event here at the Rochestown Hotel, Cork, the second of the three Irish stops of the tour. It's the first time PokerStars have set down in this fair city and given how smoothly things have gone it's unlikely to be the last.

Things went smoothest of all for MacDonald, who qualified online for €15 and bagged up a heaving 209,200. It's the second time the 22-year old has finished a day at the UKIPT coalface having hewn out the largest chip stack - he led Day 1 of UKIPT Nottingham and went on to finish 24th there. Will he be able to go further here in Cork? Plenty of the 81 players that made it through the day will be willing to bet against him doing so. None more so than Richy Landy (178,900) and Marc Gaudlitz (155,300) who finished just behind the young Brit.

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Online qualifier Sam MacDonald, chip leader again

Day 1A is usually seen as the softer half of the draw but given the buy-in you certainly had some quality names in the field; Team PokerStars Pro JP Kelly, a double WSOP bracelet winner no less, EPT London winner David Vamplew and last year's UKIPT leader board champions Chris Brammer and Owen Robinson being some of the standout players leaping out of the early seat draw.

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Last year's leader board winner Chris Brammer...

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...and runner-up Owen Robinson

Kelly, perhaps unsurprisingly, was one of the first players to come flying out of the stalls and had quickly more than doubled his starting stack. Unfortunately for the Englishman that great start wasn't to last and he found himself scuttled by Spaniard Sergi Monferrer Trevejo, who himself wasn't to last the distance in this gruelling 11 level day.

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JP Kelly (left) and Sergi Monferrer Trevejo

Another firm favourite to go deep, Chris Brammer, ran ace-king into the pocket aces of Mark MacDonnell, who in turn passed his chips on a table that seemed to become an epicentre of action and big name players. Irish stalwart Nicky Power was one player caught up in that maelstrom and ended up meeting his tournament demise after getting crippled in a monster 130,000 pot getting it all-in with A♠Q♠ on a T♣8♠J♣ flop against Andrew Burgoyne's red kings.

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Nicky Power ruing his missed draw

Surely not all the big names from the UKIPT (and beyond) could fall? If any could avoid the wild swings of variance it would be the EPT London winner and UKIPT Champion of Champions David Vamplew? Far from it. Vamplew had the most interesting of days by anyone's reckoning. His 15,000 starting stack was savaged early on by Liam O'Donoghue who called all-in with 7♦6♦ on a 5♣A♦9♣3♦ board against Vamplew's set of threes. The river fell the 4♣ and the Scotsman was left with little over 2,500.

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Mark MacDonnell (left) and David Vamplew

Vamplew's comeback was worthy of his Champion of Champions status. Four levels after that early nightmare he was up to 30,000, another three and he was up to 110,000 thanks to a bold - if not ill-fated - ace-queen call from Phil Smith and an even braver shove from Michael Sullivan into Vamplew's flopped straight. Vamplew finished the day on 129,000, a long way ahead of the 53,000 average.

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David Vamplew had a comeback worthy of a smile or two

Rumours circulating that the Queen planned her trip to coincide with tomorrow's poker triathlon can largely be dismissed. Just in case though, you should check in with us tomorrow from 2pm as the poker proletariat take on the poker royalty of Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree and Kevin MacPhee - there may be a special guest, who knows. We are guaranteed a host of other faces from the tour including UKIPT winners Max Silver and Nick Abou Risk. Join us then and in the meantime you can check the overnight chip counts here (once they have been released by the tournament staff) .

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Tomorrow's field will all be chasing MacDonald

To catch up on all the day's action simply click on the links below:

Levels 1 & 2
Levels 3 & 4
Levels 5 & 6
Levels 7 & 8
Levels 9, 10 & 11

All images are copyright of Neil Stoddart and should be credited as such. Hell hath no fury like a Stoddart scorned.

Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in UKIPT