UKIPT Nottingham: Sam Macdonald steps into the spotlight as UKIPT breaks record
As the end of play draws in you usually have to ask yourself, "What's the story of the day?" Has a plucky online qualifier knocked out three big names pros to claim the chip lead? Was the play fast and brutal or slow and strategic? Today, the story wrote itself. A total of 580 players bought, satellited and elbowed their way into Day 1B of UKIPT Nottingham to make a UK record field of 1,058 runners. Never has there been so many players contesting a tournament in Britain, and to one of those protagonists will be awarded £109,000 for their record-breaking victory.
Leading that charge is Sam Macdonald with 260,100. Only he and Luke Fields (255,900) managed to top Dave Colclough's Day 1A haul of 224,300. Samad Razavi (222,300), Kim Holmberg (199,900) and Paul Nash (179,400) also finished the day with the healthy problem of wondering whether their chips would fit in the bag supplied.
While Day 1B's 580-strong field ground its way down to 116 players, every pot won, every button stolen, every suck out and cooler was played out to the backdrop of a production crew constructing an impressive looking TV set at the heart of the tournament floor.
On Monday night, or perhaps Tuesday morning, one player will be left sitting alone at that plush baize, under the glare of spotlights, amid the imposing metal rigging, with a huge pile of chips and two winning cards having bested the largest poker field this fair land has ever seen. And hundreds of thousands will watch their moment of glory when it's broadcast on Channel 4 later this year.
Roving camera crews have been picking up key parts of the action for the last couple of days and that will only increase in intensity over the next two. What did they catch for prosperity today? Team PokerStars Pro Jude Ainsworth taking a tumble among the masses? His team-mate Vicky Coren failing to catch with a pair and straight flush draw? Fellow EPT winner Jake Cody's "slow and painful death"?
Slow and painful was Cody's description, not ours. It was uncharacteristic but at once amusing and endearing to watch. Cody, usually an indomitable force at the table, told us that he could not recall having ever been so card and spot dead before. The fact that the young aggressive Swede Holmberg had been a couple of seats to his right and opening many pots before Cody could get his chips in didn't help. He was down to just a handful of big blinds when he finally busted.
The inevitable Cody bust greatly amused James Dempsey, but he wasn't that far behind the EPT winner and, from the look that he gave me as he left with coat draped across his shoulder and tail between legs, it was a move that went wrong that ended the bracelet winner's UKIPT ambitions.
Two-time UKIPT winner Nick Abou Risk looked like he was going to make yet another title attempt but busted towards the end of the day. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, in a large 140,000 pot which propelled Macdonald into a huge chip lead. Abou Risk had got the chips in good on the turn with top two-pair against a flush draw but the river wasn't kind for the Canadian. The pair has been tangling for some time and the monster pot always looked likely.
The action starts again at 12 noon where we'll follow the final 215 players down to and through the bubble. It's going to be hectic. Hopefully they'll be tears. Join us tomorrow.
Thanks, of course, go to our photographer Neil Stoddart to whom all picture credits should go. He retains copyright of the images and has the ability to knock a man unconcious with just the power of his mind. Don't cross him.