Kevin Whelan on top after UKIPT5 Edinburgh Day 1A
Spying the tartan carpet in the restaurant area where we, the media, are camped out for the week, reminded us it's been too long since we were here last. It wasn't the tartan, or the carpet specifically, but the city of Edinburgh. Thanks to Barney - the storm, not Boatman - it's windy and rainy outside, but who cares in a city so beautiful, where the people friendly and there's great poker to be played.
The last time the UKIPT was in town Scotland had still to decide whether or not to leave the United Kingdom. Back then, in January 2014, Dean Huchtison made himself known to the wider poker world. He was one card away from exiting but came storming back to defeat Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree heads up. We're not politically minded here on the UKIPT (despite an acronym closely... anyway) but we're glad to be back. For the record Hutchison made it through with 84,200, but he's not chip leader.
Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.
That honour belongs to PokerStars qualifier Kevin Whelan with 272,000. Whelan is 35 years-old and from Liverpool, but now lives in Aberdeen. Poker for him was a hobby, but some good results made him take things more seriously (those results included a second and third place in the Big 55 on PokerStars). His key hand of the day was, as he put it, 'a big blind special' against Dominik Nitsche. He had 6-4 and Nitsche - who was under-the-gun, had A-4. There was betting on the 4-4-10 flop, Nitsche bet again on the six turn, Whelan shoved and Nitsche called.
He obviously made the most of a Day 1A which took place over twelve 45-minute levels. At bagging up time 29 remained from the 115 players who started. Other players who will be back for Day 2 include: Michael Mcgee (269,600), Roberto Morelli (204,700), David Gallagher (162,000), Ryan Barnes (161,500), Kyle Maguire (132,000), Dara O'Kearney (102,600) and Nitsche (55,600).
Rapinder Cheema has already won a UKIPT title this year, in London back in January. One can tell the man loves to play poker and today he wore that emotion across his face as he stack dipped, rose, dipped, then rose one last time before fatefully dipping too far. He was joined on the rail by notables such as: Daragh Davey, Rupert Elder, Thomas Partridge, Leon Louis, and Robbie Bull.
Tomorrow's a new day and it's called Day 1B. Everything about it is the same as today but a new bunch of players arrive for us to stare at. Mr UKIPT, Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody, is flying up in the morning; reigning EPT Malta champion Niall Farrell is homecoming; Kelly Saxby flew up this evening on a non-propeller plane (something she was very pleased about); Dan Stacey will be in the house looking for back-to-back UKIPT wins; Tom Hall and last season's fifth-place finisher Tomasz Raniszewski will be here, and everyone's hoping that Ludovic Geilich gets his act together to get on a flight from Amsterdam.
Play kicks off at midday GMT, so join the reporting team back here then.
Photos are copyright of Mickey May. Someone saw her sneaking a bottle of the Very Hot Peri Peri sauce out of Nandos earlier. Steal her photos and that sauce is a suitable weapon in her hands!