UKIPT4 Nottingham2: Ainsworth soars into Day 1B Chip Lead
Day 1B of the £1,000,000 guaranteed UKIPT Nottingham saw 419 players pack themselves into Dusk Till Dawn's opulent surroundings to take their shot at the title and huge prizes on offer.
In typically English fashion, the weather forecast was inclement but the torrential downpour outside the doors couldn't dampen the fireworks within the casino - an incendiary day seeing the chip counts of the leading players fluctuate wildly throughout.
By the time ten action-packed levels had come and gone, just 113 remained and it was wily campaigner Jude Ainsworth who had mastered the field - his 238,600 stack topping the chip counts in the final reckoning.
Ainsworth has a well-established reputation at the felt, but his late bullish run up the chip counts was not without a few shaky moments and slices of luck, as he revealed.
"I got jacks in against kings for 24,000 and hit a jack on the river," he said. "That got me to 50,000 and then I ran super hot for two hours. "
Snapping at his heels come the finale were Richard Kellett with 228,700 and Jonas Lauck with 220,500. Kellett in particular is having an incredible week.
Having finished runner-up in the High Roller just yesterday, he's well set to write his page into the history books when he returns for Day 2 hunting his second title of the week.
The full chip counts come the end of play can be found here.
Amongst the many recognisable faces in contention today were Full Tilt Poker Ambassadors Martins Adeniya, the well-heeled Ben Jenkins and Dermot Blain.
They all showcased well-honed skills at the felt, but whilst Jenkins' and Adeniya's charges faltered midway through the day, Blain finished up with a respectable 70,000 which will stand him in good stead when he resumes his tilt at the title Saturday.
Team PokerStars Pros Christophe De Meulder and Matthias De Meulder had mixed fortunes at the felt - Matthias crashing out before the finish though his twin Christophe fared better - bagging up a handsome 106,000 come the close of the day.
Perhaps the biggest marquee name to grace the field was the man many credit with kickstarting the poker boom, 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker.
He proved unable to emulate his 2003 success on this occasion - his day a tough grind before David La Ronde (who bagged up 90,000) polished him off late on. Fortunately for Moneymaker and his many fans, he'll have a second chance to do it all again tomorrow should he use his second bullet to play Day 1C.
One man who demonstrated the potential of this double chance format was Royston Drenthe. The Reading footballer had an ignominious exit on Day 1A but rolled his sleeves up and came out fighting on day 1B, running his stack up to 101,600 when the stacks were tallied.
Drenthe was part of a trio of players with footballing credentials who survived the day. Both Lawrie Sanchez (81,000) and Steve Watts (102,000) also showed commendable panache to negotiate the many tricky obstacles they faced during the day.
Day 1B may have proved explosive but Day 1C could eclipse it yet, with another horde of players set to descend on Dusk Till Dawn to do battle at the felt. Amongst the many names slated to play, we can expect PokerStars' Liv Boeree, Fatima Moreira de Melo and possibly Chris Moneymaker if he claims his second bite of the cherry.
They'll have a veritable army of hungry grinders to march through and it will be fascinating to see who can best ride the waves of variance and stake their claim for the UKIPT title.
We'll resume at 12 o'clock sharp to play out the final Day 1 of the week. If it can match the drama we witnessed today, we can guarantee a gripping day of action. We can't wait. See you there!
For links to the updates from levels 5-10 click here.
For links to the updates from levels 1-4 click here.
Photos supplied by Danny Maxwell.