PokerStars Qualifier Sam Mitten-Laurence wins UKIPT5 Nottingham and £182,000
When the final 37 players returned to play to a winner at noon today at Dusk Till Dawn the title could've been won by a former UKIPT winner, a UKIPT leader board winner, three players who had previously final tabled a UKIPT or any of three players who have done likewise on the EPT.
But, in the end this tournament was won by a 24-year-old online qualifier playing only his second ever live tournament. Whilst Sam Mitten-Laurence, who qualified for £160 and tonight is £182,000 better off, might be green at the gills when it comes to bricks and mortar poker he was no fish out of water and he's a veritable veteran on the online felt. He turned pro at age 18 and since then he's clocked up over 22,000 tournaments on PokerStars under the screename 'KevinThorn'. "I've really enjoyed the whole week, especially since it's been so long since my last live tournament," he said when the tournament was over. "It's been a great experience. I definitely plan on playing more UKIPT events, and I'll probably travel for some EPTs too."
As you'd expect from someone who's experience is vastly tilted towards the online game, Mitten-Laurence flew under the radar for most of today before the final table was reached. When we did see him in action he was busy getting it in good and knocking out players in the process. He took care of Michiel Jonker (23rd), Foyzul Hussein (17th) and Ben Vinson (12th). By the time the final table of eight was set he was third in chips. In typical fashion though he had the chip lead by the time the first break rolled around and all without playing a big pot of note.
This was no steamrollering of a final table though, indeed for much of the first half of the final table it looked like Patrick Clarke was going to win the second major title of his career.
Within 40 minutes the Irish Open winner took care of Luke Perrott in eighth (A♥K♠ vs A♣J♣), Kuljinder Sidhu in sixth (A♦K♥ vs K♥5♠) and Krzysztof Jacyk is fifth (K♥T♦ vs 8♠6♠). At that point Clarke had half the chips in play and Mitten-Laurence had only clung onto his coat tails by eliminating Sunil Pancholi in seventh (J♥J♦ vs Q♠T♠).
You might have spotted a pattern by now, the best hand in all-in situations was holding up! However that was all about to change as Clarke's downfall and Mitten-Laurence's ascent to the title hinged on a couple of races where Mitten-Laurence needed to hit to win. He had already taken the chip lead by the time he eliminated Patrick Clarke in fourth place. Clarke three-bet shoved for around 28 big blinds with pocket twos, Mitten-Laurence called with A♠Q♦ and flopped an ace to send the talented Clarke home.
"When we were four-handed there were two or three pots I played with Patrick Clarke where I really kept chipping him down and that was important as he's a tough player," Mitten-Laurence reflected afterwards. "I was pretty confident at four-handed but when Clarke was eliminated I felt as long I didn't make any silly mistakes I could get it done," he added.
So three-handed Mitten-Laurence was in total control with over half the chips in play and he added more when he eliminated Richard Jones in third. Again he needed to hit with overcards against a small pair and again he hit his ace on the flop as the Londoner's A♥T♠ bested Jones's pocket fives.
A word now about his head-up opponent Trevor Pearson. He finished third in this very tournament last May and if you'd have offered him that at the start of the final table he'd have bit your hand off. He was almost permanently the short stack throughout but ducked, dived, stole enough to stay alive all whilst winning the hands that really mattered. "I've had no ammunition to work with, I've just been scraping along," he told us.
But ultimately you can only bring a knife to a gun fight for so long before you get fatally wounded and a three to one chip deficit heads-up was too much to overcome. Just a few hands into heads-up play his 27 big blind three-bet shove with A♠J♥ was snapped off by Mitten-Laurence with A♥K♥ the best hand held and Mitten-Laurence could start planning a knees up. "I've nothing too crazy planned for the money - other than a massive party obviously," he told us. "Other than that, I'll probably take a nice holiday with my girlfriend and put some towards a house."
Prize pool: £1,000,000
Places paid: 151
1st. Sam Mitten-Laurence, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifer, £182,000
2nd. Trevor Pearson, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifer, £110,000
3rd. Richard Jones, United Kingdom, £77,400
4th. Patrick Clarke, Ireland, £58,100
5th. Krzysztof Jacyk, Poland, PokerStars Qualifier, £44,700
6th. Kuljinder Sidhu, United Kingdom, £32,000
7th. Sunil Pancholi, United Kingdom, £24,200
8th. Luke Perrott, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, £17,320
The tour now moves onto sunnier climes as it heads to Marbella in June, satellites to that event are already running on PokerStars and can be found under Live Events>Europe>PokerStars Marbella Festival.
All photos are copyright of Mickey May