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Fintan Hand wins UKIPT Edinburgh

It’s all over in Edinburgh.

The UKIPT Edinburgh Main Event is over, ending with a win for PokerStars Ambassador Fintan Hand.

Fintan seemed keen to keep his emotions under control, at least, he joked, until he was along in a room. But the pride in this achievement was clear on his face. And as he embraced his friend Ben Spragg.

Spraggy had himself reached the final, but crashed out in sixth place, ending his hopes of near back-to-back UKIPT wins after his triumph in Brighton.

But next best as he could see it was for his friend to earn the silverware.

Earlier today Fintan had described his approach to the final (which you can read here).

Apart from a slight hangover after celebrations with Spraggy last night, he looked confident. Like someone who had what he had wanted all his life – a live tournament trophy – within his sights.

He didn’t blink.

Something else he said when we asked him whether it was different achievement to win a live event over an online tournament.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never won a big one so if you talk to me in a few hours, I’ll be able to say the same thing. For now, I’m not too sure because I’ve not experienced it.

Well, we did ask him.

“It was a lot of fun. I felt it just kind of went my way, I picked up some big hands, had some nice hands to re-shove with, in spots where people were quite light.

“So, I think I just went well. It’s always nice winning any poker tournament. It’s nice whether it’s for $500 5k or 44,000 pounds.

Fintan Hand (left) and Dan Gormley wait for the last cards to be dealt

“And that’s my biggest score ever. I’ve not played a lot of live poker. So, to win a tournament and beat my best score is fantastic.

“And the trophy is bloody beautiful. It’s Lovely.

Was he ever worried when the all-ins started to go against him?

“I just tried to stay calm and not get too worried about things, I can control.

“I was pretty disciplined compared to how I’ve been in the past on final tables. There were a few spots where I wanted to get a little bit silly and I didn’t. I just had a bit of patience. So, I felt like I played as good as I could.

There was one last question. What was the lucky charm he had with him from the start of the final table?

“We were at Edinburgh Castle earlier on,” he explained, holding up a small bottle of seeds.

“I got sold this for five pounds and I asked all the Scottish people what it was. No one knew except for Phil (the tournament director – it’s “lucky” heather).

“And let me tell you as soon as he told me what it was all the cards are coming.

“I paid five quid for it and I’ll sell it for a grand.”

Given his result, would that be considered a bargain? It may have something more to do with the effort that went into this result. And for much longer than this week alone.

“I go through periods where I’m studying a lot, or I’m not studying a lot. And when I’m study, and I feel confident, and I’ve been studying a lot at the moment, so, I’m happy that it’s going so well.”

You can trace Fintan’s route through the final table by reading through the hand for hand updates on PokerNews.

Here’s the full final table result:

  1. Fintan Hand £44,200
  2. Daniel Gormley £27,850
  3. Andrew McKenzie £19,810
  4. Nohad Teliani £15,240
  5. Stephen McKay £11,680
  6. Benjamin Spragg £9,100

Before signing off there are some well earned plaudits to direct at the other finalist.

Runner-up Daniel Gormley

Dan Gormley celebrated his birthday today. Any poker player would want to celebrate with a UKIPT win. Dan settled for the next best thing after a dogged heads-up performance. His grace in defeat suggested the makings of a future champion.

A shout out also to Nohad Teliani.

The Canadian started the UKIPT week with a side event win. Then followed that up with runner-up spot in the High Roller. Proving unstoppable she reached fourth place in the Main Event, capping off a remarkable week.

Read the full story of the event, and every step of the final table, over on PokerNews.

Thanks for reading our stories from UKIPT Edinburgh. If you enjoyed this, along with the updates from PokerNews then don’t forget that the UKIPT will be back in a matter of days.

UKIPT Nottingham – the final event of the season – starts in November. The week after this one. It has a £1,000,000 guarantee and promises to conclude the season in style.

Interested in playing? Check out the details. We’ll see you there.

Is there a doctor in the house?

When you’re training to become a doctor, with five years of medical school behind you, and two more to go, you’ve earned a night off.

So a poker trip is a chance to get away from all things medical and relax. Not find yourself thrown into a medical emergency.

But that’s what happened to Alex Cheng earlier this year.

Alex, 25, is about to complete the first year of two foundations years in Belfast.

If you’re not familiar with the health world of trainee doctors, that’s time spent moving from one hospital department to another. The aim is to get an idea of where you want to specialize.

Poker medicine isn’t an official one of those disciplines. But if it was Alex could be a consultant, or something.

THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO

It’s a nightmare scenario for tournament staff. A player suddenly taken ill in the middle of a tournament and complaining of chest pains.

We’ve all seen the commercials and seen the safety videos.

Chest compressions to the tune of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees.

But it’s a different situation when it’s happening in front of you.

Like in a tournament earlier this year. When Alex, ready to call it a night after a day with friends, found himself dragged back into work mode.

DUTY CALLED

Alex, in Edinburgh to play the 8-Game with pal GJ Reggie, picks up the story.

Alex Cheng

“I can’t leave now!” he remembered thinking. “Morally I have to stay!”

Tournament staff at the event had done well to that point. But it was obvious the patient was in a serious condition.

Duty called.

“I checked him out. He was still awake. A bit drowsy. But had the classic presentation of a heart attack.”

SPOT THE SYMPTOMS

If you’re curious – and without attempting to be any sort of medical authority – there were some common ones:

Crushing central chest pain.

Pain spreading to the arm and neck.

An impending sense of doom.

“Which sounds quite dramatic,” adds Alex. “But that’s basically what he said.”

It’s worth saying that the man in question later made a full recovery in hospital. You can read this knowing there are no nasty surprises on the way.

So, what next?

WHAT TO DO

“The Most important thing is we need to get an ambulance,” said Alex talking me through a scenario like this.

“I can’t do much without taking a heart trace or having a defibrillator nearby, or even having IV access.

An ambulance was called, with Alex stressing the need for a defibrillator to be ready. It wasn’t needed this time, but on explanation it’s a no-brainer.

“When someone has a heart attack they can easily go into cardiac arrest,” he explained. “At that point I can’t do much. I can do CPR but that’s a temporary measure. Keeping him going until a defibrillator arrives.”

This is why PokerStars has them on hand at events.

Alex even asked staff where it was when he arrived yesterday.

We told him. Then made sure he got a free hoodie.

USING A DEFIBRILLATOR

It turns out anyone can use a defibrillator.

Much like anyone can learn CPR, defibrillators are designed to be user friendly. As crazy as it sounds, the machine itself will talk you through it.

It will tell you when to attach the pads.

It will assess heart rhythm.

Then at the right moment it will tell you to stop compressions and step back.

Then it delivers the shock.

If you’re unfortunate to be witnessing a moment like this, it’ll look a lot like what you see in the movies.

“It should be quite dramatic,” said Alex. “Like the movies, the big jump and everything. A big jolt of electricity.”

CALM COLLECTED REASSURING

The man making a full recovery. He was even back playing soon after.

But it wasn’t clear that would be the outcome at the time. Alex stayed with the patient until the ambulance arrived. A member of the tournament team then stayed at the hospital with the man.

“In hindsight it was quite exciting,” says Alex. “I’m not sure how I came off. I was quite insistent.”

If he was worried he had been shouty or lacking in composure, Dina Hassan put that straight.

Dina was one of the floor managers that day and saw everything unravel.

“At first, I thought he was someone coming over to be nosey,” said Dina (think all in on the bubble with a life-threatening edge).

She quickly realised he was exactly who was needed.

As she put it, he was calm, gave clear instructions, and assured the patient while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. His level-headedness made staff feel much better as well.

 “We all think we know,” she said. “But you don’t know if you’d be able to do it.”

BACK TO POKER

Back to now and thankfully this poker trip has been less eventful.

Alex’s poker journey started with what he described as a “bastardised” version of the game played with friends.

GJ Reggie and Alex Cheng watching the final table today

“There were no blinds. People were acting whenever they wanted out of turn! And because there were no blinds, I realised, I’m not risking anything. So I should not play anything until I get aces.

“It spiralled from there into ‘I can beat these guys’”.

On the day he turned 18 Alex headed to the Hippodrome in London, ending the session up a couple of hundred pounds.

That was spun up to £10,000 before university took priority. Although he did buy himself a car. Which he still drives.

Like many players, he’s in Edinburgh not for the main event, but for the side events. And to see friends.

He met GJ Reggie and others at a four-player team event in Ireland (they won it). It was the event which after his poker hiatus “dragged him back in.”

Thank goodness.

Fintan Hand on “that” moment on the bubble

As the main event plays on, it’s worth revisiting a moment from two days ago involving Fintan Hand. And which is partly responsible for the stack that got him this far.

It caused a bit of a stir initially, but might be better described as an insightful, if unpopular, bit of optimal poker strategy.

Here’s the description. See what you think.

It was the money bubble on Day 1B. It was also very late at night. Or early morning to be more specific.

Fintan had the biggest stack at his table, and was using it to maximum effect, moving all in repeatedly. Or was. When Marle Spragg moved all-in for a single big blind, he folded.  

Now you might be thinking, what? Folded? It would cost him one big blind to call and ended the tournament right there and then.

There’s also the small matter that Fintan is friends with Marle, who is married to his friend Ben Spragg.

But that was irrelevant to how Fintan saw things. As he explained.

“The big blind was forced all in, who was Marle (Spragg). It would only cost me half a big blind to call and she would have been all-in.

“But the bubble plays notoriously slow in these UKIPTs because they’re not the biggest fields. There are only three tables. Everyone can see all the stacks. Everyone’s looking, waiting. It’s quite big min cash.

“So, I knew that if I folded, nobody could call the all-in because it’s a disaster to bust before.”

In other words, it was more profitable for Fintan to use Marle Spragg’s short stack almost like bait.

“Every time I shoved, I made 20,000 chips,” he explained. “And it went on for about two and a half orbits. I picked up 250k uncontested, which put me in much better position than calling, busting, and everyone going home and being happy.”

It wasn’t a popular move, and play would go on until 3am, meaning Fintan had cost everyone an early night and a cash finish. But in terms of the best possible play, it was spot on.

“I was a little bit of public enemy number one, but it was very much something I would have done against everyone. It’s just happened to be Marle.

“People were a little bit miffed because obviously I know Marle. But it’s something that makes sense.”

It’s not a situation you’re likely to find yourself in, especially in a big tournament like this. But when it does, it’s hard to pass up.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Fintan. “But I used to play sit and goes full time and you see a little bit more often with that. Not so much in an MTT.

“But in these small field MTTs where there are not thousands of people it can arise every now and then. And when it does, I just think try and take advantage of it.

He did. And he’s currently in second place.

Marle went on to bubble the main. If you’re curious as to who busted her, it was Fintan Hand.

Fintan Hand on what lies ahead

Spraggy may be out of the Main Event but his friend and fellow PokerStars Ambassador Fintan Hand plays on.

Before play started I spoke to him about how he was feeling heading into the last six, and how it might differ to an online equivalent.

“I’m a little bit hung over because Benjamin (Spragg) peer pressured me into a couple of shots last night to celebrate the fact that we’re on the final table together,” he began. “But I’m very excited for it.

Fintan Hand

“Obviously, having Spraggy there should be a little bit of fun. Probably, one of us will end up punting the chips off to the other.

“My first ever tournament outside Ireland was Edinburgh. So I was really excited to come back. Obviously, it’s gone very well making the final table.

“My wife Hannah flew in yesterday to hang around with me and walk around the city. But unfortunately I can’t do that as well. That’s okay with me.

“I’ve never won a live spade in a real tournament. I’ve won a few charity events, so it would be cool to follow in a Benjamins footsteps after he won Brighton.

And is there a difference to winning a live event over an online one?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never won a big one so if you talk to me in a few hours, I’ll be able to say the same thing. For now I’m not too sure because I’ve not experienced it.

Play starts. Down to five.

The final table is underway in Edinburgh. For the full line up scroll down. And for live events, click that link to PokerNews above.

That line up is now down by one. And it’s Spraggy headed to the rail.

It happened over the course of two hands.

The first was the killer. You can read about it here.

Immediately afterward he shoved for his last 200K with pocket fours. Dan Gormley called with 45. The flop brought the killer five.

Spraggy picked up his things. Among them a borrowed lucky charm, a Baby Yoda figurine presented to him by Felix Schneiders (who is currently streaming the final table from a few feet away).

“I don’t think this is very good for me,” said Spraggy, handing it back.

He was joking on the outside, but looked like he was hurting on the inside.

Down to five.

Left to right: Stephen McKay, Nohad Taliani, Ben Spragg, Fintan Hand, Andrew McKenzie, Dan Gormley

Gormley leads with Spraggy and Fintan Hand reaching final 6

We’re down to a final six in the Main Event and it’s looks likely to be a thriller when they play to a winner tomorrow.

Not least because of the line-up. Local pro Dan Gormley leads. But he’ll be joined by not one but two PokerStars Ambassadors in the shape of Fintan Hand and Ben Spragg.

Which introduces the prospect of back-to-back UKIPT titles for Spraggy, who won in Brighton earlier this season.

You can read that story here.

For Fintan, he’s edging closer to what would be his first UKTIP title, levelling the scores with his friend and rival.

So how will things look when play restarts at 12.30pm tomorrow?

Here’s the final six.

Seat 1: Andrew Mackenzie (Scotland) – 500,000

Hailing from Forres, near Inverness, Andrew makes his living working for a distillery, producing the mash that will eventually become fine Scotch whiskey while the by-products are turned into animal feed.

Andrew gormley

He’s been playing poker for 16 years, and has been a regular on PokerStars since the very beginning. He’s also a regular here at Genting Casino Fountain Park.

His biggest ever cash was finalling Goliath earlier this year. His thoughts on making the UKIPT Edinburgh final table? “Fantastic!”

Seat 2: Ben Spragg (UK) – PokerStars Team Pro – 1,380,000

Best known both online and irl as “Spraggy”, the genial PokerStars Team Pro is no stranger to UKIPT final tables.

Ben Spragg

He took down the Main Event recently in Brighton, and is now looking well placed to pick up his second title of the season, in second place behind Dan Gormley (although Spraggy admittedly has half Gormley’s chips going into the final day.

Whatever happens, Spraggy and his tablemate Fintan Hand will have plenty to talk about on their Twitch streams after the final table plays out. 

Seat 3: Nohad Teliani (Canada) – 365,000

Hailing from Canada, Nohad Teliani visited Scotland last year and enjoyed it here. Passing through London for a meeting a few days ago, she decided to nip up to Edinburgh to play the UKIPT – and it has proved to be an excellent decision, since she’s won Event 3, came second in the High Roller, and has now finalled the Main Event.

Nohad Teliani

She may be the short stack going into the final, but it would be foolish to underestimate her. “When you’re doing well, you enjoy it,” she says breezily. “PokerStars is great, they put on the best events.” Indeed, she has great form in them – her biggest live cash to date was second place in the €550 Deepstack at EPT Barcelona last year, also cashing in the Main Event the same year.

Seat 4: Dan Gormley (Scotland) – 2,780,000

The Edinburgh local is 30 years old at time of writing, but will be turning 31 tomorrow – and what a birthday present.

Having turned professional during Covid after a short pre-plague career in recruitment, and having briefly worked as a dealer in this very casino, Daniel will be going into the UKIPT Edinburgh final with a massive 2:1 chip lead over his nearest rival.

Daniel plays both cash and tournaments, but considers himself an MTT specialist, and he travels the UK circuit in search of search; he finished fifth in Nottingham last year, and he’s also played (and cashed) in the occasional EPT.

“It’s gone amazingly to be honest,” he said. “Poker’s easiest when you make good hands.”

Seat 5: Stephen McKay (Scotland) – 640,000

The 42 year old hails from Montrose, although his work as a wireline supervisor on oil rigs means he spends weeks at a time away from home.

Stephen McKay

Stephen has been playing on PokerStars under the moniker “Leshark81” for 15 years, starting out with small MTTs and progressing to a WCOOP title in the $109 4-Max this year, as well as a Sunday Millions final table. He played the last UKIPT in Edinburgh back in 2015, but this is his deepest ever run in a UKIPT Main Event.

Seat 6: Fintan Hand (Ireland) – PokerStars Team Pro – 955,000

Another player who needs no introduction is Spraggy’s fellow Team PokerStars Pro Fintan Hand. The former poker dealer is playing his first UKIPT Main Event final, although having finalled the Irish Open in 2017 he has plenty of experience at live MTT finals.

Fintan Hand

Wherever he and his friend Spraggy finish, we strongly urge you to tune into their next Twitch streams to hear all about it from the other side of the rail.

Along the way there were other success stories, even if they didn’t end on the final table.

David Docherty, your new UKIPT Player of the Year, departed first this afternoon in 32nd.

UKIPT Player of the Year David Docherty out in 32nd

Podcaster Lawrence Bury followed in 30th before Felix Schneiders went the same way in 29th.

Mantas Urbonas busted in 18th place. Too late to make it to the Hibs game, but good enough to collect £2,660.

Thomas Page, who earned his seat through Power Path for just $0.50 finished in 11th position, earning £4,730. He was delighted with the result and will be back putting those $0.50 Power Path tickets to good use.

Power Path winner Thomas Page cashed for £4,730

Perhaps the surprise elimination was that of Gajathan Kamalanathan who brought the day to a close.

Gajathan Kamalanathan out in 7th

He had been chip leader at the start, and among the leaders for much of the day. But got caught on the wrong end of some bad hands, departing in seventh.

Good for £7,570 but earlier than planned.

For details on all those bust outs, check out the PokerNews coverage for hand-to-hand details.

Come back tomorrow for everything else, including interviews and the outcome of the Main Event.

And the All-In Freeroll winner is…

There’s an extra perk, a bonus, for any player who qualifies for a UKIPT event. And to one player it’s worth £1,100.

It’s called the Online Qualifier Freeroll and it’s exactly as it sounds.

Any player who qualified for the UKIPT Edinburgh Main Event on PokerStars can take part. It’s played right here on the tournament floor using a crazy pineapple format.

You can find out exactly what crazy pineapple is by clicking here, but all you really need to know is that it’s all over in a matter of minutes.

And there’s just one winner. Who right now can’t believe his luck.

“It’s so funny,” said Pekka Rantala, the freeroll winner, who we spoke to earlier this week.

As a reminder, Pekka is a micro-stakes player. A fun player. A fact that makes him giggle just to think about these circumstances.

And he qualified for the trip to Edinburgh – Main Event buy-in, Cup buy-in, and expenses, all for the sum of $0.50. A step one entry into Power Path on PokerStars.

He now has a fresh £1,100 UKIPT tournament ticket to use. Which for now will have to wait until next year.

“I don’t have any leave days left from work!”

A great problem to have.

Today we play down to a final table

Welcome back to day 2 of the UKIPT Edinburgh Main Event.

We’re into Act 2 of the tournament. We’ve cleared the money bubble – that happened at the conclusion of each Day 1, the second and third of those finishing shortly before breakfast this morning (if you’re an early riser that is).

That consisted of the regular speed Day 1B – reducing 114 players to 17.

And then the turbo Day 1C – which started with 34 entries and ended with just five.

Now we’re whittling down the remaining field of 33 to a final table of eight, who will return tomorrow to play for what we now know will be a first prize of £44,200.

Here are the details so far.

Gajanthan Kamalanathan leads the combined field. He tops what is a final list of 220 entries, which made a prize pool of £211,200.

Scottish player Kamalanathan is pursued by PokerStars Ambassador Fintan Hand in second, who busted Marle Spragg in a coinflip to bring play to a close last night. Husband and Team Pro Ben Spragg is still in contention.

What about the PokerStars qualifiers?

We spoke to Mantas Urbonas earlier this week. He has chips today (180k+), good for a top ten spot as of now. He also has a back up plan. If he busts early he’s headed to the Hibernian v Celtic game this afternoon.

But he’ll need to act quickly to get their before 3pm. Very quickly if he fancies a pie before kick-off.

The phrase “David Docherty is still in the field” has become worthy of it’s own keyboard short cut this season. Docherty has the UKIPT Player of the Year Leader board sewn up so this is already something of a victory lap, with this and Nottingham still to play out.

Silver Pass winner Thomas Page, who we talked to yesterday and who won his pass while passing the time on holiday in Bali, is also back today. Just for the record, that’s a $0.50 silver pass, won on Power Path (which is free to enter if you hadn’t heard) and now guaranteed at least a £1,720 min cash.

Regardless of the situation at 8pm tonight there will be a player party regardless, with drinks, and the Rugby World Cup Final (that’s today folks) on the screens.

Here we go.

One Player: Five reasons to play Power Path (plus one bonus reason)

See if this sounds familiar.

You’ve heard of Power Path.

You might even have tried it once or twice, using the free ticket you get every day in exchange for playing a single hand of poker.

But maybe you’re still not convinced.

You don’t have time to play long online satellites.

It’s too hard to win, you think.

You can’t afford to play events like this, you say to yourself.

You won’t know anyone.

And aren’t these events in the middle of nowhere?

Let the experience of Thomas Page prove all that wrong. About 180 degrees wrong.

Thomas Page. All the way from Manchester (by way of Bali)

REASON 1: PLAY WHEN YOU WANT, WHERE YOU WANT

Let’s reel things back a bit, all the way to Thomas’s experience, which weirdly enough started nearly 8,000 miles from here, in Bali, Indonesia.

On holiday from his job in Manchester, his work as a financial services auditor comfortably out of reach – conditions were perfect for poker.

Thomas had the game in mind. The $109 level of Power Path which he’d earned from a $0.50 ticket. A ticket he’d got for free.

He’d been smashing the Power Path lobby since the game was introduced. An early adopter enjoying the chance it presented to reach live events just like this one.

He’d reached this vital stage before but never clinched the silver pass. Until he opened his laptop on holiday.

Within minutes, sitting in the middle of paradise in southeast Asia, he was looking forward to a trip to Edinburgh in forever-damp late October.  

REASON 2: MEET NEW PEOPLE

And how is the adventure going right now?

“Fun, fun,” he said. “I’m on a table with one of the PokerStars twitch streamers (Nick Walsh).”

Team Pro Nick Walsh

Thomas had heard the likes of Walsh and others talking so asked a few questions.

“It turns out he’s one of the Team Pros. That’s cool.”

REASON 3: EXPENSES PAID TRIP FOR $0.50.

Back to how he turned $0.50 into a seat in a UKIPT Main Event. Pay attention if you think this process can get costly.

“I won one free $0.50 one,” said Thomas, referring to the free Power Path ticket you get every day for playing just one hand of real money poker. “That gets you into $1.50 tournament. Up to $11. Up to $109. And I pretty much won one of the first ones I tried.”

It didn’t stop there. Thomas nearly added more $109 tickets, putting a lot of it down to having the time to make the most of the free tickets. And having faith in his ability to win, even at the higher $109 level.

“I was top ten on another one. There were only six that got it. It would have been great to get two. But can’t complain about a $0.50 ticket. Probably only played about 20 of them.

REASON 4: NO LIVE EVENT EXPERIENCE NECESSARY

Thomas is not a professional player. He’s firmly in the amateur ranks. Like a lot of players, he uses poker as a hobby inbetween the obligations of the real world. It’s a game he picked up while studying Maths at university, graduating with a master’s degree in 2018.

“I guess I was bigger on poker when in university,” he said. “I was part of the Newcastle University Poker Society. I was joint president of that for my last year and was fully into it. But didn’t carry it on that much since going into work life afterwards.

REASON 5: FEWER PROS TO RUIN THINGS

“The [PowerPath is] structured with the steps make it so much more achievable,” said Thomas. “You get such a bigger edge then a completely large single tournament field.

If multi table tournament satellites are not your thing. Perhaps because they attract more experienced players, or just because they take longer to play – Power Path is the perfect alternative.

“That’s another great thing about the power path is that you can’t buy into the $109 straight way. Otherwise, the pros would just get tickets every time.”

Thomas Page still going strong in the Main Event

There you have it.

If you’re still on the fence, there’s no obligation to play. But if you’re curious remember you get a free $0.50 ticket every day you play a real money hand.

From there you might just find a trip like this one, to a beautiful city like Edinburgh, within reach.

For Thomas, well he’s still very much alive in the Main event, with a few of his mates due in later to enjoy the weekend with him – however things turn out.

We’ll call that Reason 6.

Day 1B (and 1C) on the way

Welcome to day 1B of the UKIPT Edinburgh main event. And Day 1C. More on that in a second.

First there are a few things to catch up on from Day 1A. Chiefly the result of £2,200 the High Roller.

Youness Barakat took the first prize of £18,190. He’d led coming into the final day with four players left. PokerStars Ambassador Felix Schneiders was among them, busting in fourth for a $5,050 min cash.

High Roller winner Youness Barakat

After a lengthy three-way chop, Barakat, Nohad Teliani and Ankit Ahuja played on.

Ahuja, who earlier this month won the Eureka Main event at EPT Cyprus, busted in third, collecting £7,600.

Barakat went on to take the win, leaving Teliani to second place spot and £11,400.

High Roller runner up (and among the main event leaders) Nohad Teliani

But that only tells part of Teliani’s Edinburgh story.

It started with a win in the £220 NLH event earlier this week. Then Teliani went on a bit of a flyer.

At the end of play last night (early this morning, you know the drill), she was almost chip leader. Close behind local player Daniel Gormley who topped a list of 11 survivors.

That decision to jump right into the main event after the high roller evidently a good one.

Those not advancing included 2011 EPT Sanremo champion Rupert Elder, and circuit regular Andrew Teng. As well as UKIPT Player of the Year David Docherty.

Ankit Ahuja, who is fresh from his high roller third, fired three bullets at Day 1A. Put another way, he entered three times but missed each time. And that’s the limit.

Another rule you might be wondering about concerns how long we play on these opening days.

The answer is down to 15 per cent of the field. The remaining players not only advance to Day 2, but guarantee themselves a cash finish. It also means a money bubble at the end of each day.

Last night it took 17 levels (each 40 minutes) to play from 72 to 11.

Today those 11 players get the day off and make way for Day 1B. And, as alluded to, Day 1C.

The first of those starts at 1pm local time. The second at 9pm this evening. Expect to finish sometime tomorrow morning.

And if you’re a UKIPT player not in either of those events (for good or bad reasons) you can enjoy some complimentary bowling tonight. Just one of our player activities this week. There’s a party tomorrow. And mini golf on Sunday if that’s more your thing.

Remember you can follow hand for hand updates of all of today’s play on PokerNews. Click here, or at the top to go right there.

Mantas Urbanos looking to top London

Several levels into the game there are a few new and familiar faces in the field.

PokerStars Ambassador Fintan Hand is among them, as is Rory Jennings.

Former EPT winner Rupert Elder makes an appearance as does Leader Board Contender David Docherty.

Less known, but not by much, is Lithuanian player Mantas Urbonas. He’s attempting to go a few places better than his fifth-place finish at UKIPT London earlier this season.

Mantas Urbanos

Like any player on a strict budget (and with a young family back home) he uses poker – specifically winning seats online like this one – to travel to these bigger live events.

“I started playing poker around ten years ago when a friend showed me a fun way to earn some extra money,” he said. “And little by little, games with friends turned into competition with great players from all over the world.”

His biggest result was a final table at the Battle Malta 2018, where he was part of a five-way chop.

These poker trips are also a way to combine his other passion – football.

It’s a big part of his life when he’s not playing poker. A former semi-professional, it’s now just a hobby where he plays for an amateur club with a poker name: “Top Kickers”.

While here he plans a trip to Easter Road to watch Hibernians vs Celtic.

“Unless I somehow reach Final Table again,” he says.

Back to poker, Mantas is strictly a hold’em player and stops short of calling himself a professional player.

“I try to play at least three times a week online and have one trip a month to Live Events,” says Mantas. “I have a wife and a 3-year-old daughter, so now it is a little more difficult to spend time by playing poker.

“But I can’t complain – as much as I enjoy playing, family gives me much more happiness.” 

Three chips and a chair for 50 cents

Pekka Rantala, from Helsinki Finland, has a big smile on his face. Which is odd for a player who is down to a chip and a chair before the first break of the day.

“Well, three chips,” quipped Pekka.

Okay, he’s down to 5,600. That’s a red, a blue, and a black chip if you were wondering. But, and this is the odd bit, he’s having the time of his life. Well, maybe not that odd.

“I keep telling myself, ‘I’m here for 50 cents!’”

That’s correct. 50 cents. Half a dollar.

This is Pekka Rantala. Start rooting for him.

Pekka used Power Path to earn his seat in the Main Event. Which comes with entry into the Cup event later this week. And a wodge of money to cover expenses in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

All the way through Power Path, past that tricky $109 level, all the way to a Silver Pass.

And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Because Pekka is not a regular at this level. Instead, he’s a signed up, card carrying, unabashed member of the micro-stakes community.

“I’m what you would call a player that plays for fun,” he said. “I play pretty exclusively micro stakes no limit hold’em. I also play some mixed games mainly when ambassadors promote them.

“I don’t really have any poker aims. It’s a fun hobby to me, [a] way to relax and have a bit of fun competition in the day.”

We’re all for that.

Pekka got introduced to poker through tournaments on television, and later from streams. First Lex Veldhuis, then other PokerStars Ambassadors like GJ Reggie.

“They are both amazing people,” beans Pekka. “Passionate about their work and compassionate towards their peers, audience and people around them as far as I can tell.”

“Not only have I learned a lot of poker related things by following them over the years but also a lot of lessons in how to be a better person.

“I’d also like to throw a special shout out to Twitch stream chat moderators. How they do their work to the quality they do I will never understand. They’re amazing people and terrific in their moderating work.”

There’s another interesting aspect to Pekka’s Main Event experience. It’s only his second.

And live experience number one was six years ago.

“It will be interesting to see how live poker actually works. Last live tournament had a 50 euro buy-in, so that’ll be quite a jump too to 1100 GBP.”

But above all, it’s the experience Pekka is soaking up. It’s in his voice has he recounts losing his stack, hanging around other poker people at the break, and travelling to places you might never get to experience otherwise.

For now, he has some work to do.

“I’m going to move all in a lot,” he jokes, before correcting himself. “Hopefully two times”.

That’ll get him back to his 30K starting stack. He now has at least one person who can’t help hoping that happens.

Underway in Edinburgh

Nearly 24 hours into this trip to Edinburgh, and it’s not proving easy to hear a Scottish accent.

If it’s not the crowds of tourists in tartan scarves gravitating (quite rightly) towards historic sites like Edinburgh Castle, or the Scott Monument, it’s that other crowd. Our favourite metropolitan, multi-cultural, eclectic band of world travellers… that group we call poker players. They’re here, ready to go.

Here is the Genting Casino, in Edinburgh. A beautiful subterranean home away from home. Outside there’s every conceivable fast-food restaurant you might need. And stationed between them, a health assessment company, capitalising on irony and a potential new customer base .

Inside though we have a poker room with wall-to-wall tables. Perfect for opening day “proper” in Edinburgh. By that we mean the Main Event gets started. Yesterday the High Roller kicked off the festival. No ribbons or anything. Just 17 players (22 entries) for a day of high-rollering.

They played down to a final table yesterday. Or to put it more accurately, this morning. They wrapped up at 4am.

We’ll let you know who wins that, and more. But our attention today will be on the Main Event. Particularly the stories of the players.

Here on the Blog you’ll find stories of those taking part, what it’s like to play, to win (and lose) an event like a UKIPT.

If you’re looking for more hand for hand information, the nitty-gritty of a poker tournament, PokerNews have you covered. You can read all of their updates from Edinburgh right here, or by clicking through the link that will stay at the top of this page.

For now we look ahead to four days of poker. Let’s get started.

How to follow updates from UKIPT Edinburgh

The PokerStars Blog will be reporting from the event from Day 1A on Thursday 26 October, through to the final table on Sunday.

PokerNews will also be on hand to bring live updates on all the action from the tournament floor itself. You’ll find hand details, chip counts, and everything else from the Main Event, over on their site. The link will appear below.

LIVE UPDATES FROM UKIPT EDINBURGH ON POKERNEWS

But be sure you bookmark this page as well. On the PokerStars Blog you’ll find information about the event itself, more on some of the players taking part (professional as well as amateur), and a bit about what it’s like to play a UKIPT tournament.

As always it should be a great event. We’re certainly looking forward to it.

In the meantime check out more details about the UKIPT Edinburgh festival, including the full schedule, below.

UKIPT Edinburgh dates: October 24 – 29, 2023

UKIPT High Roller: October 25-26 – £2,200

UKIPT Main Event: October 26-29 – £1,100

UKIPT Cup: October 28-29- £330

Click here for the full day by day schedule.

Venue Information

UKIPT Edinburgh will be held at Genting Casino, Fountain Park.

Location of venue for UKIPT Edinburgh

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