UKIPT Nottingham: Ahmed again as final table assembles in Nottingham
The tempo of major poker tournaments fluctuates as the days go by. The early stages of day one is slow, before things speed up towards the end. Day two is a bloodbath from start to finish, and day threes are sometimes harder to predict. Eliminations come in fits and starts: fast, fast, slow. Slow, slow, fast.
Such was the case at UKIPT Nottingham today, where we first imagined we might be done before dinner, then feared we would be playing all night. In the end, a flurry of action during the eighth and ninth levels of the day meant we got it all done before the witching hour. The 76 who returned this morning were reliably reduced to eight.
The reason we can go two full paragraphs without mentioning a single player's name is because we feel as though we have written so much about Iqbal Ahmed over the past couple of days that there's really no more left to say.
The young British player assumed the chip lead of this tournament during the early stages of day two, and if he has relinquished it at all since then, it was only for a matter of minutes. (And whether that even happened is open to debate.)
Certainly when they bagged and tagged for the final, Ahmed still had the most enormous stack of everyone. Starting the final with 6,680,000, about twice as much as anyone else, he will be the favourite to snatch the £210,400 first prize tomorrow.
He is, however, not a certainty. Ian Senior was just another player in the lower half of the chip leader board this time yesterday, but he could do little wrong this afternoon and magically turned 167,000 into 3,765,000. He could even afford to have his kings cracked by sevens with nine players left.
Robert Baguley was another who grew his stack tremendously, bagging 2,115,000 tonight. He took a massive pot from one of the UKIPT's most feared players, Chris Brammer, cracking Brammer's kings with jack-three. (What was it with kings today?) Brammer went out in 11th, but Baguley will be seventh going into the final.
The full final table line up, in seat order, looks like this:
Ian Senior, United Kingdom, 3,765,000
Hasmukh Khodiyara, United Kingdom, PokerStars Player, 2,350,000
Robert Baguley, United Kingdom, 2,115,000
Iqbal Ahmed, United Kingdom , PokerStars Player, 6,680,000
Barry McMahon, Ireland, 1,750,000
James Cummings, United Kingdom, 2,575,000
Nick Woodward, United Kingdom, 2,445,000
Grant Pirie, United Kingdom, 2,430,000
McMahon is the best friend of Emmett Mullin, who prevailed at UKIPT Galway in February. They are still on for back-to-back wins for their hometown of Omagh.
But each of the others also has strong claims. Grant Pirie had a quiet day until he made an exceptional call right at the death to knock out Devron Hasselnook, who was the last player to add his name to the prizewinners page.
Joining the Dutchman there are players from Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and a whole load of Brits, proving that it may be the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour, but that people will fly a long way for a £1m guaranteed tournament.
Tomorrow's play will decide how the top part of that whopping prize-pool is divided. For obvious reasons, Ahmed will be in everyone's sights. But can anyone stop him? Join us from 2pm to find out.
Thanks to the combined photographic skills of Mickey May and Mark Gregory for the snaps. That's it for tonight. Bye!