UKIPT London Day 1B: Luke Bird flies highest on Day 1B
Unlike the average poker player, tournament organisers are a risk-averse bunch. Knowing that the card room of the Victoria Casino could seat only about 430 players, they scheduled three opening flights of UKIPT London and made each of them last 11 levels. That ensured we dusted off enough players to allow the Day 2 field to fit in.
So it is that after Day 1B, which attracted 414 players, we remain tonight with fewer than 100 of them, less than a quarter of the field. Singing loudest among them is the appropriately named Luke Bird, who hit a straight flush to double up at the mid-point of the afternoon and then went on a charge tonight. Bird bagged 196,800.
Bird, who comes from Chingford and works in the travel industry, qualified for £22 on PokerStars and is playing the biggest tournament of his career. "It has been a brilliant experience so far," Bird said.
Lurking behind is a familiar face: Tom Hall, who bags 181,600 tonight. Hall is currently in second place in the UKIPT Player of the Year leader board for season three, and could win the whole thing with a deep run in London. It depends, of course, on what Hall's closest challenger, Neil Raine, manages here, but Hall has certainly started well in his quest for the prestigious accolade. (Raine is out of the main event, but there are a lot of side events that still qualify.)
There are plenty others hot on his heels tonight, including Daniel Rudd (161,500), David Vamplew (99,800), Kevin MacPhee (25,500), Andrew Teng (119,200), Karl Mahrenholz (41,500), Patryk Slusarek (159,000) and Willie Tann (78,300). Team Online's Dale Philip also made it through the day, finishing with 25,500. He was the only "Red Spade" to make it through after Team PokerStars Pro's newest recruit, Leo Margets, busted late in the day.
She found good company on the scrapheap. John Duthie lasted precisely one hand. His friend Barny Boatman lasted about one level more. Nick Wealthall, Luke Schwartz, Steve O'Dwyer, Martin Jacobsen, Richard Ashby and even Marc Convey couldn't last the day.
Then Team PokerStars Pro lost Vicky Coren, George Danzer and Henrique Pinho, before Mickey Petersen, of Team Online, headed home too.
But let's celebrate those who remain. The counts of the survivors will be on the chip-count page as soon as we know them.
Tomorrow will be the biggest day of them all -- upwards of 420 players, I reckon -- and then we will know what they're all playing for too. It's likely to be a lot of dough.