UKIPT4 Nottingham 6-max: An emotional Ben Mayhew triumphs in final table thriller
There were four reports that could have been written tonight, each detailing how a talented player took top honours in the UKIPT4 Nottingham 6-max Main Event.
All the finalists coming back to Dusk Till Dawn this afternoon were entitled to have one eye on the winner's trophy, having demonstrated the right king of "Stuff" to succeed at this level. But we spike all of those stories except for one, that being the one that tells of tonight's winner Ben Mayhew.
UKIPT4 Nottingham 6-max Champion Ben Mayhew
Mayhew survived this most unpredictable final table, in which the chips came and went for each player like a changing wind. But it was he who best weathered this storm, finally overcoming local man Tony Salmon heads-up to take the title, the trophy and a first prize of £72,840.
Mayhew and Salmon shake hands on the win
It had been a thrilling finale. Salmon held the advantage heads-up with 5.7 million to Mayhew's 3.4. But a double up for Mayhew swung the momentum in his favour and the chip lead would be his to keep, just like the trophy that would be in his hands ten minutes later. With the chips in the middle Mayhew, with ace-king, paired the king on the flop to crush Salmon's pocket sixes. Mayhew fell to the ground in triumph.
An emotional Ben Mayhew wins the Main Event
Mayhew's overcame several hurdles to claim the title. His Day 3 yesterday would at best be described as turbulent. At one stage he had been reduced to a handful of blinds, at which point, so downcast about how things had gone he told those at his table that it was time to get his chips in and go home. Well, he got his chips in, he just didn't go home.
Double up after double up followed, sometimes straight forward but more often than not involving some unlikely card that dug him out of a hole. As for hitting the cards he needed, Mayhew had his own explanation.
Mayhew in action
"I swear it's my old man," he said. "He passed away in March so I think he's certainly up there. Every time I needed a card it was there, bink! I survived five or six all-ins as an underdog and somehow I got there."
Mayhew pointed to the quality of the opposition at the final, and the fact that they ensured he never felt comfortable.
"You get tournaments where you're at the final table and you look at one guy and you think God, he's really bad, how did he get here? I think today that was me!"
Overall though Mayhew, who wiped back tears as he hugged friends on the rail as he won the last hand, was delighted.
Ben Mayhew hugs friends
"It's exhilarating," he said. "I don't really know what to say. I've had so much luck the last couple of days. I played really well on Day 1 and 2, then Day 3 was terrible. I felt I made so many mistakes.
"After Day 2, mentally I was exhausted and found it really difficult to compete. There were so many great players in the tournament and they were just beating me up. I'd kinda resigned myself to going home with a few quid extra for coming 20th or something."
That part of the plan well and truly failed.
For his part Tony Salmon served as the perfect foil. He had his own point to make, having played out of his skin to record the biggest live cash of his career. Salmon was always among the leaders this week, always in the same battered DTD cap, returning to the club he used to play at after an 18 month spell away from the live game.
Salmon was disappointed, but pragmatic in defeat.
"I made two bad decisions during the four days, which I know were bad decisions I got lucky on one," he said. "But apart from that I think I played reasonably well"
"I am pleased with the result, that's the first time I've played live in 18 months. I used to play in the DTD pub league, so I'm well happy about coming down here and finishing second. I'd like to have won it but it's wasn't my day."
Salmon watches the last hand unfold
Here are the full results from today's Main Event final, with the complete list of payouts available here.
1st. Ben Mayhew, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £72,840*
2nd. Tony Salmon, United Kingdom, £64,296*
3rd. David Clifton-Burraway, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £66,514*
4th. Ben Vinson, United Kingdom, £34,000
5th. Tim Wong, Malaysia, £26,750
6th. Sergio Aido, Spain, £20,700
* denotes three-way deal.
Of the six finalists Spaniard Sergio Aido and Tim Wong had the most work to do, and both went about different ways of doing it.
For Aido this meant trying to regain the chips he had lost yesterday, which he did by showing fearlessness about getting his chips into the middle. For the most part these shoves went unanswered, but finally, when he moved in with ace-three, he found Ben Vinson calling with ace-queen. Aido's stoic rear-guard was at an end in sixth place.
In contrast to Aido, Wong had opted for a different approach, one of patience and caution. In many respects it paid off. Wong, who was the only player with fewer than a million chips at the start of play, outlasted Aido. But at times Wong was hamstrung and unable to play in the manner that had seen him lead at earlier stages of the tournament.
Finally Wong found ten-seven of diamonds which, with only a handful of blinds was good enough to shove with. Again it was Vinson doing the calling with queen-jack of clubs. Wong flopped another ten but the board was filling up with clubs, giving Vinson the flush. Wong out in fifth place.
The four remaining players then took to passing the chips around. Without exaggeration any of them would have graced the winner's photo. But it was Vinson who departed next.
Vinson had doubled through Clifton-Burraway to draw level, enough for a deal to be discussed. But with the numbers up it was Vinson who vetoed it, opting to play on. Some may say he was wrong in his judgement. Perhaps he was, but his desire to win seemed the more obvious characteristic, and the way he was playing made victory a distinct possibility.
Alas, it would not play out like that, with the two Bens, Vinson and Mayhew, getting their chips into the middle on the flop, Vinson making two pair, but Mayhew rivering a straight. It was the hand that crippled Vinson, who was quickly on the rail in fourth place.
The tournament returned to its regular stalemate, with each player trying to get a lasting edge on their opponents and each claiming the lead at some point. But few suspected it would be Clifton-Burraway who would depart next.
Clifton-Burraway had been the rock at the final, not the tight type, just the character you expected to remain solid in seat 4 position. But despite leading again and again, he couldn't hold onto that lead all the way, losing back-to-back hands that ended his title dreams. The first saw his ace-king out-flopped by Mayhew's ace-eight. Then the second, when his jack-seven of spades was mauled by Salmon's ace-six of clubs. From being the mainstay at the final, Clifton-Burraway was now on the rail in third.
The rest was left to Salmon and Mayhew. It could have gone either way, but regardless the UKIPT got another great champion to ink into its record books.
Congratulations to Ben Mayhew on a memorable win, and to all the festival winners this week, including Jon Spinks in the High Roller event and Duncan McLellan in the Notts Cup.
Ben Mayhew presented with the winner's trophy by Simon Trumper of DTD, with Kirsty Thompson of the UKIPT and Tournament Director Toby Stone
That brings our coverage from Nottingham to a close. You can catch up on all the action from today at this link, which details all the day's play.
The UKIPT now takes Christmas and New Year off before returning in January, where Edinburgh will host the next leg.
For now, it's good night from Nottingham.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter. Photos courtesy and copyright of Danny Maxwell.