Proud Welshman Richard Evans wins UKIPT Dublin and €75,500
When Richard Evans was down to 1.2 big blinds yesterday nobody, least of all himself, would have thought that he would be lifting the trophy. A miraculous Mickey Petersen-esque comeback ensued resulting in a berth at the final table for the Welshman, fourth in chips, no less. Today Evans, wearing a bright red t-shirt emblazoned with the words 'welsh boy', was never short stacked. He started well, built a dominating chip lead and held on to take the trophy and €75,500.
When he finally knocked out Stephen McGrath heads-up Evans was overcome with emotion, not quite sure what to do with himself. Covering his mouth with both hands he walked first towards the fire exit before checking his run and turning towards the bar where he disappeared from view. A loud 'Yes! Yes!' bellowed back into the tournament room shortly after. It was followed by Evans, a Guinness in one hand and a whiskey in the other, now ready to pose for the winner's photo.
Evans, who'd played with a stony face and hood up for days, finally let his guard down, a bright beaming smile showing just how much the win meant: "It's a sailing effect, it's pressure off. In times like these...," said Evans, a self-described micro-stakes player and cashier at the Portmeirion village.
It was clear that the money meant a lot, a genuine life changing score. The €75,000 - €60,000 from a three-way chop and €15,500 for the win - will go a long way in the Evans household. Plans to do up the house and pay off a chunk of the mortgage have already been put in place, which is pretty incredible considering qualification cost just €15.
A humble Evans seems to possess a skill many do not, the ability to assess other player's ability in relation to their own. He avoided the tough spots and tried to exploit the others. He was glad to see the early eliminations of "Padraig (O'Neill), Lee (Atherton) and Graeme (Crozier)" because they "were clearly the better players". It's an admission many wouldn't be able to make but one that certainly helped Evans to the win. He opened up against the others and nut-peddled against those aforementioned tough players; both Atherton and O'Neill lost chunky pots to Evans' flopped set of kings; O'Neill yesterday, Atherton today.
Atherton was the first to go this afternoon after horrible back-to-back coolers. Somehow he managed to get away from the first, refusing to get his queens in pre-flop and then folding to Evans' flopped set of kings. The second was inescapable. O'Neill flopped top set on a J♥9♥3♠ board, Atherton held pocket nines for middle set. Atherton looked gutted but knew that he'd done nothing wrong. It was another solid performance from Atherton following his 15th place finish at UKIPT Nottingham last month. The man from Timberley is racking up cashes and leader board points.
Keith Swain started the final table short and Atherton's bust out must have been welcome news, locking up an unexpected €3,000 for the man from Birmingham. At that time Swain and Vincent Buis were the shortest stacks by some way and when the pair clashed it all but guaranteed who would go in 7th. Swain was happy to take a flip with pocket threes against Buis. Unfortunately for him the Dutchman held pocket fives and Swain was sent to the rail. Buis was still short but that wouldn't stop him.
Overnight chip leader Graeme Crozier bust next but probably deserved to finish higher than his 6th place finish. Crozier was game, active and out there trying to win pots but the key hands didn't go his way, notably a large flip against McGrath whose ace-king rivered a bullet to crack his queens. It was McGrath again that delivered the coup d'état when both players spiked an ace with an ace in their hand; Crozier's jack kicker not strong enough to top McGrath's king kicker.
Padraig O'Neill must have fancied his chances with five players remaining. Crozier had been a thorn in his left side and with him out of the way he stood a chance of steamrolling the table. The young Irishman had been the chip leader for some length yesterday and his aggressive pre-flop game could get him back into the driving seat. As it happened, it just led to a car crash instead. Evans limped his small blind with A♥8♠ and Evans checked with 6♠3♠. Evans bet 80,000 into the A♠J♠3♥ flop and O'Neill raised to 210,000. Evans called and checked the 4♦ turn. O'Neill bet around 460,000 with 200,000 back and called when Evans shoved. O'Neill didn't catch the spade, three or six that he needed.
It took more than an hour for Vincent Buis to bust in fourth. The Dutchman tried everything short stacked; limping, shoving, raise-folding, and several times made strong movements towards catching the pack. That game wasn't sustainable, despite doubling up through Seamus Birt when he found aces in the big blind. He finally bust to Stephen McGrath's 9♥9♣ with A♥K♦, ironically in the pot that would finally have got him to average for the first time.
A deal was struck three-handed which seemed to free Evans, the huge money jumps no longer a problem. McGrath, whose elimination of Buis had put him into the lead, had a live leak which Evans picked up on and allowed him to get away from a hand pre-flop. McGrath squeezed and then stood up. Evans passed.
"What's this standing up thing?" said Evans.
The only other time McGrath had stood up was when he had aces. This time it was a tabled ace-king. Evans was let off the hook, he would be let off the hook again.
Shortly after Birt opened the button with K♣Q♣, Evans moved in with A♥5♠ and McGrath made a pained fold, later claiming to have ace-king. Birt called and the ace held up. Had McGrath made the call - and had the ace-king he claimed to have - then he would have won the title and additional €15,500 then and there.
As it was Evans went into the heads up with a 5,000,000 to 3,580,000 chip lead. McGrath never picked up any real momentum and half-an-hour later Evans called McGrath's shove with a three-and-a-half-to-one chip lead on a 5♠6♣4♥9♥ board with 9♦3♣ holding against 6♥2♥. An ace on the river sealing the title for Evans.
To read through the day's action click on the links below. And to see who got paid what, just click through to the payouts page.
Photo copyright and credit goes to Mickey May.