UKIPT5 London: Best of British (and beyond) congregate for High Roller
Break time in a poker tournament can look very much like break time at a secondary school does. Cliques form and stories are exchanged as players get to drink in a mental break to give them a rest before battle - of the mental kind - commences again.
But at a poker tournament you won't find distinct groups of jocks, nerds and goths. If anything, because poker is one of the most democratic pursuits going, you'll find those who've long since left those tags behind mixing in the same group. Whilst the UKIPT might not be as international in flavour as the EPT - the clue's in the name of the tour after all - when it comes to this High Roller there's a distinctly European flavour to it. So the divide in groups here is usually one of geography as players from different nations share congress over a coffee.
So on the first break it was no surprise to see players who've perhaps not seen each other since the last big tournament sharing a joke and a laugh. Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody was having a joke with Rhys Jones and Chris Brammer. The latter of course won the UKIPT leader board in Season 1. Since then Brammer's had eighth and eleventh place finishes in UKIPT Main Events but whilst he's not since scaled the heights of his sixth place finish at UKIPT Manchester, he's had plenty of success elsewhere. Since he first cashed in a UKIPT event in December 2009 he's racked up over a $1,000,000 in live tournament cashes and countless more online.
Whilst Cody, who won the first two tournaments he ever played at The Hippodrome Casino needs little introduction, Jones is probably the least well known of the three. Calling 2014 a break out year for Jones would be unkind on a player who's been used to success for far longer than 12 months. But, in 2014 he took down a MiniFTOPS event for over $50,000 to boost his online tournament earnings over the $2.5 million mark and had his best ever year, in terms of cashes, playing live. He took down his first major live title, winning £42,000 at an event in Manchester and finished third in the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em ante-up event at the WSOP.
But the Brits, who's numbers are augmented by the likes of Oliver Price, Jon Wong, Victoria Coren Mitchell and Charlie Combes won't have it all their own way in this High Roller. There's, as expected, a strong Spanish contingent in the field today, with many Spanish players now calling London home. One of those is UKIPT3 London champion Sergio Aido. Whilst the UKIPT title was Aido's second major title, he too has used success on the UKIPT as a springboard to further success.
The UKIPT4 Nottingham six-max sixth place finisher is joined by many compatriots in the field as: Sergio Aguilar, Raul Mestre and Alberto Gomez, who finished second in a $100,000 Super High Roller in July, are all playing today.
Throw in a couple of Danes in the shape of Team Pro Online's Mickey Petersen and Morten Mortensen, Italian EPT3 Dortmund runner-up Cristiano Blanco, EPT6 Copenhagen third place finisher Morten Klein and recent WPT champion Matas Cimbolas and you've got all the ingredients needed for a tasty tournament.
The tournament is now into level five and blinds are at 150/300 ante 25, each player started with 20,000 and the average stack is currently a shade over 23,000. There are now 45 entrants in the tournament including one re-buy, with Vasile Stancu the first man to fire his second bullet. Those who elected for the one and done route include: Charlie Combes, Nicholas Markou and Robin Fisher who was the first player out.
Late registration is open until roughly 9.15pm and the early pacesetters appear to be:
Rhys Jones - 47,000
Billy Chattaway - 37,000
Morten Mortensen - 31,000
Whilst this is how some of the other names and notables stack up at the moment:
Elior Diun - 29,000
Sergio Aguilar - 28,000
Mickey Petersen - 26,500
Sergio Aido - 18,800
Jake Cody - 12,500
Oliver Price - 12,000
Victoria Coren Mitchell - 8,800
Chris Brammer - 8,500
PokerStars Blog reporting team at UKIPT5 London: Nick Wright. Photos by Mickey May (welcome back Mickey!).