Tuesday, 23rd April 2024 07:56
Home / Poker / Blackpool local wins at UKIPT: “I loved it. It was only up the road!”

It had been four years since Blackpool resident Simon Marks last played live poker. 

The 52-year-old had enjoyed a fine run in 2019, chopping a tournament at his local casino for £5,125. But when things shut down in 2020 and live poker went away, he noticed his enthusiasm for the game shutting down too.

That was until a few YouTube videos from the 2023 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas relit the spark. And it just so happened to coincide with the recently rejuvenated UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) coming to his doorstep.

“I knew I wanted to start playing more,” Marks says. “Then I saw the UKIPT was coming to Blackpool.”

The UKIPT – one of PokerStars’ most beloved regional tours – returned earlier this year for the first time since 2016, and was making its first visit to Blackpool, the quintessential British seaside town. 

“I thought, because I’m local and haven’t played in a while, I’ll go down and try to win a UKIPT Blackpool Main Event seat for £120 in a satellite,” says Marks. “If you win a seat, it’s kind of like a freeroll and you have a shot at a big score.”

Unfortunately, the satellites didn’t go his way. But Marks would end up winning a side event thanks to a few bad beats…and a lot of local spirit.


Marks’ first satellite attempt didn’t go to plan. He busted when an opponent got lucky to hit a runner-runner flush against him.

“I met him in the bar afterwards,” he says. “The guy said, “I’m sorry about that, let me buy you into the freezeout.” It turns out he’d won £16,000 on a fruit machine that day, so he bought me into the £200 freezeout.”

Marks had a good run, finishing 13th, just missing out on the money. He went home, but a couple of days later, he decided to give the Main Event satellites another go and returned to the Blackpool Grosvenor Casino.

simon marks at the wsop 2019

Simon Marks, a recreational player, took a trip to the WSOP in 2019

His second satellite attempt was going much better, that is until the same guy who got lucky against him before took a seat at his table, directly to his left.

“I thought, here we go again!” says Marks. “He entered right before registration closed and I knew he’d just go all in and hope for the best, it’s what he does.”

So when it folded to Marks in the small blind with jack-nine, he moved all in. “I knew he’d call with any two,” he says. “He called with 5-2 and the flop was nine-high, but he hit another runner-runner flush!”

This time, his nemesis offered to buy him into the £220 Bounty event on the festival’s final day. But at this point, Marks wasn’t sure he was able to play and went home.

But when he woke up on Sunday, July 16, he decided to go down and give it a go. He went back to the UKIPT thinking, if that guy is there he can buy me in, otherwise, I’ll buy in myself.

“He wasn’t there so I just went for it myself,” Marks says. “And I ended up winning it!”


When the bounty event was approaching a final table, Marks was down to just a couple of big blinds. He went all in with queen-ten and was called by two players.

He didn’t hit a thing on the flop, turn or river, so he got up to leave.

“I whiffed everything but ended up winning the pot with queen-high!” he says. “I had a nice little run from there.”

Marks won £2,357 for the victory and pocketed £500 in bounties along the way (“I only knocked out four people, which might tell you a lot about my game!” he laughs).

And as if it was meant to be, the guy who offered to buy him in turned up just in time to see him hoist the silver Spadie trophy.

“When we got down to six players on the final table I started to visualise where I’d put the trophy,” Marks says. “I have a Ganesh statue on top of my fridge so I’ve put it next to that.”

simon marks won in blackpool

That Spadie gives Marks bragging rights the next time he plays down the local


“I’m really enjoying playing live again after so long,” says Marks. 

It’s not just the game he’s missed, but the social element too. After all, you never know who you might end up playing against.

The night before he played the bounty event, Marks was at home watching the darts on TV. Then, when he sat down to play on Sunday, he immediately recognised a player sitting opposite him.

“I thought he looked just like Mike De Decker (the Belgian darts professional). He three-bet me and I asked him, “Do you play darts?” He said yeah. I asked if he was De Decker and he said yeah. I said, “I was watching you last night and now you’re sat here!” I ended up knocking him out so got £100 out of him. Nice guy.

“Then I was at the bar and saw a guy I recognised from playing poker in Ireland years ago. I went up to him and said, “Hello mate, I remember you. Did we play poker in Ireland years ago?” He goes, “Do you watch Snooker?” I said yeah. He goes “I’m Fergal O Brien, the snooker player.” I hadn’t realised!”

That’s the UKIPT experience in a nutshell.

Poker room at UKIPT Blackpool

It was a fun few days at UKIPT Blackpool

“I loved it,” Marks says. “And it was only up the road!

“I’d tell anyone local to Brighton, London, Edinburgh or Nottingham that they should 100% play the UKIPT when it comes to their town. I loved it.”

You don’t have to qualify online to come down and play on the UKIPT. Just turn up and buy in directly, or take your shot in a live satellite. If it doesn’t go your way, there are plenty of fun and affordable side events to take part in.

But if you’d rather book your seat first, there are satellites for the UKIPT running on PokerStars right now. You could win either a Seat Only Package worth £1,100 or a Seat + Expenses package worth £1,500, with buy-ins starting at just £1.10.

Plus, you have the opportunity to win a UKIPT package every day on PokerStars through the Power Path.

See you on the tour!


UKIPT official site
UKIPT Blackpool coverage

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