UKIPT4 Nottingham2: McLellan scotches rivals to be crowned two-time UKIPT champ
1,223 players arrived a week ago at the doors of Dusk Till Dawn to contend UKIPT Nottingham's record-breaking £1,223,000 prize pool. Six days of power poker later and just one was left proudly standing with all the chips in front of him - that man being Duncan McLellan.
In picking up the trophy, McLellan created his own slice of poker history, becoming the fourth double UKIPT champion and the first United Kingdom player to achieve this prestigious accolade.
Following his illustrious win, McLellan said, "I feel great, fantastic. I'm thrilled to bits!"
The fastest, and possibly most exciting UKIPT final table ever, saw him scorch to victory in just shy of three hours 49 minutes. Eclipsing Max Silver's four hour victory at UKIPT Season 1 Dublin, it was the latest record to tumble in what has been a ground-breaking event.
McLellan's path to glory was not without its rocky moments however.
""I got off to a bad start - I was nearly out in an hour," he explained.
The early stages were all about Willie Elliot. The Scotsman came into the final as the chip leader and he wielded his stack like a sledgehammer, smashing his way to a gargantuan 10 million in chips without a showdown.
One memorable hand in particular was a classic - Elliot fearlessly three-bet bluffing with ace-high post-flop to push McLellan out of the pot through sheer brute force.
At this point, it looked like there might be only one winner but McLellan had other ideas. He started to make inroads into Elliot's lead by winning a coin flip to eliminate Ramey Shaio.
McLellan's pocket fours held versus Shaio's A♦Q♥ to send the professional player home in eighth position, good for £20,800.
With Elliot going on the attack regularly, the others were scrabbling for chips and Flynn became McLellan's second victim of the final when his shortstack shove from the small blind with A♣7♠ couldn't hold versus big blind McLellan's Q♥J♥ - a queen spiking to send the self employed dad of three to the rail.
Flynn had promised his children a flash car, a new swanky wardrobe and a trip to Brazil for the world cup if he won. With £29,300, rather than £200k+ in his back pocket, they might have to settle for a BMX, some new socks and a pack of Panini stickers but Flynn's family can be proud of their dad after such an impressive deep run.
Juan Benito was one of the stars of the run-in to the final table. The Spaniard's imaginative approach saw him well-placed when the day began, but he became another McLellan victim - falling the wrong side of a key coin flip (ace-king versus nines) to bust in sixth for £38,400.
Professional player Ryan Spittles experienced a day of frustration, finally pushing with K♠J♦, only to be picked off by the A♦T♠ of Angelo Milioto. Just fifth spot for £51,700 for Spittles, but his burgeoning reputation gets another boost and this talented poker player seems to have a golden future ahead of him.
Willie Elliot's huge bluff against McLellan early in the tournament worked to perfection, however his second attempt had a less auspicious result, resulting in the likeable Scotsman's downfall.
He turned a small full house with pocket threes into a check-raise all-in bluff on the river - only to run into a monster - McLellan triumphantly snapping Elliot's shove with quad aces.
The rail was temporarily stunned into silence. The man who'd entertained the crowds with his addictive no-holds-barred style had fallen in fourth spot - £67,000 Elliot's meaty reward for his brave assault on the title.
Another knockout feather in McLellan's already well-stocked cap, he now held 50% of the chips in play and had become a big favourite for the title.
Trevor Pearson had been quietly effective throughout the final table. He entered the day shortstacked and one of the favourites to be shunted out in the early going but milked his stack for all it was worth to reach the final three.
Further progression proved a bridge too far, but his patient approach yielded a third place finish for £89,900 - McLellan applying the finishing touches for his fifth elimination of the final.
That left Milioto and McLellan vying for the title heads-up. The pair did a deal to flatten the large pay jumps - McLellan taking a guaranteed £168,372 - Milioto £143,728 and they played it out for an even £34,000.
McLellan had a healthy chip advantage and was not to be denied the title.
The final hand was an unavoidable cooler - McLellan making a straight to cooler Milioto's trip sixes and this incredible tournament had come to a close in quick smart fashion.
Sales Director Milioto finishes a creditable second and McLellan wins £202,372 becoming the latest man promoted to that elite pantheon of double UKIPT greats.
"It was hard work, harder than the Isle of Man," McLellan told commentator Nick Wealthall afterward.
He elaborated on his bullish style, and explained this historic win might open a few more opportunities but it wouldn't go to his head.
"I had no fear of going broke. You can't win a tournament without getting your chips over the line. This has just been a weekend away really. I want to go out to Vegas and play the main event but I'll be back on the scaffold tomorrow!"
UKIPT4 Nottingham2 Main Event
Prize pool: £1,223,000
Places paid: 183
1st. Duncan McLellan, United Kingdom, £202,372
2nd. Angelo Milioto, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £143,728
3rd. Trevor Pearson, United Kingdom, £89,900
4th. Willie Elliot, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £67,000
5th. Ryan Spittles, United Kingdom, £51,700
6th. Juan Benito, Spain, PokerStars Qualifier, £38,400
7th. Anthony Flynn, United Kingdom, £29,300
8th. Ramey Shaio, United Kingdom, PokerStars Player, £20,800
For a list of all the other payouts, click here.
That wraps up our journey to crown the UKIPT Nottingham champion. Next stop in the tour is UKIPT Marbella, the main event taking place June 11th-15th. We'll see you there in the sun for the next chapter in the tour but for now thanks for following! It's been a truly brilliant event.
All photos are copyright of Danny Maxwell