Seat 1: David Wilkes, United Kingdom – 152,000
David Wilkes, 54, has probably covered more miles to come to UKIPT events than any prior finalist, flying over from his home in Spain for nearly all of them. His favourite places to play have been Barcelona and Dublin, beautiful cities both, the latter with “the best banter,” although he tries to attend at least one live poker festival every couple of months. Wilkes, now retired, has been playing poker for seven years (“four of them properly”) after starting out in cash games and small weekly tournaments, and has cashed a few times in UKIPT events, although this represents his biggest live win to date
Seat 2: Graham Parkin, United Kingdom – 600,000
Graham Parkin, 46, a self-described cash game grinder (now based right here though originally from Kidderminster) began to play seriously around five years ago, focusing on No Limit Hold’em cash two years ago. Parkin reminisces about his experiences at the UKIPT: “Just how much fun they are, and friendly – we have a lot of banter all the time.” Parkin has made more than one final table of deep-stacked live events, racking up over $50,000 in cashes since 2011, but should he win the Main Event here it will represent his biggest tournament prize to date.
Seat 3: Jeremy Wray, United Kingdom (PokerStars Passport Winner) – 783,000
London-based businessman Jeremy Wray played his first UKIPT way back in Season 1 and says: “I love live events and I couldn’t miss the last one. I’d like to win the last one – that’s the reason for entering.” Poker is very much a hobby for Wray as his business interests and five children keep him busy. For Wray, poker is about the intellectual challenge and he says he likes playing against better players than himself. You’ll often find him playing for higher stakes on the EPT and his largest live cash to date came at the PCA in 2014 where he finished 22nd for just over $60,000. Wray has ridden the emotional rollercoaster to get to this point and after getting unlucky on the first hand of play on Day 2 when he had jacks cracked by tens, but he cracked aces right back to survive.
Seat 4: Nathan Webb, United Kingdom – 340,000
Nathan Webb is a 35 year old head of finance, who’s played poker recreationally for over a decade before turning his mind (and whatever free time he has what with a full time career and 15 month old daughter) to the study of the game. From reading Harrington to winning $2,000 in a WCOOP event a year ago, Webb waited for the Birmingham UKIPT stop to roll around to use this bankroll to play his first ever live Main Event. His patience has paid off as he’s come straight through to the final, having finished Day 1 as overall chip leader (although not without periods he describes as “a grind – hard work!”
Seat 5: Ludovic Geilich, United Kingdom – 1,575,000
Ludovic Geilich, UKIPT4 Marbella winner and recently-crowned WCOOP PLO 6-Max High Roller champion is one of the most well-known players on the UKIPT. From a background of near-professional snooker as a teenager, Geilich discovered poker in private clubs in Glasgow where he split his time playing and working as a dealer. He built and lost a bankroll many times over – as he says, “rinse and repeat” – until finally his bankroll management caught up with his talent and since his win in Spain has taken shots at big tournaments worldwide, meanwhile learning from his mistakes. “I learned when not to put the foot down,” he admits, “Although I still like to put the foot down.” Expect a big rail and shouts of “Lu-do!” should he look close to taking his second title.
Seat 6: David Clarkson, United Kingdom (PokerStars Qualifier) – 1,215,000
David Clarkson is a UK and Ireland Poker Tour regular, and although he has a side event win and half-a-dozen other cashes to his name, this is his first appearance on a UKIPT Main Event final table. To win would mean his biggest live cash to date but he has a bigger one in the online arena having cashed for $72,000 when he won a SCOOP event on PokerStars this year. “I want to be the last ever winner of a UKIPT,” Clarkson said on a break before the final table. He heads to the final second in chips, his online and live experience combining to make him a formidable opponent.
Seat 7: Ted Jackson-Spivack, United Kingdom – 940,000
Ted Jackson-Spivack turned 24 today and says: “It’s going to be a good birthday whatever happens, but winning the tournament would be the best present ever.” He’s already locked up his biggest live cash which comes as no surprise as he’s usually to be found playing mixed games online on PokerStars. He went to school with fellow mixed game stud Adam Owen and the two of them honed their skills during break time before graduating via freerolls to real money play. It’s more than paid off for him as he now plays full time and this September he had his biggest online cash to date when he finished third in a WCOOP PLO/8 event winning over $12,500. As well as playing UKIPT events he travels to EPT stops where he mostly plays the mixed game tournaments on offer.
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Seat 8: Krishna Nagaraju, India – 431,000
Krishna Nagaraju, 37, used to play three-card poker in India, before catching the live game bug from his Icelandic roommate in Denmark and moving on to play regularly in London, the city he now calls home. From this idiosyncratic beginning, Nagaraju reckons he’s been playing seriously live for around three years, mainly at PokerStars LIVE at The Hippodrome Casino. Working in business development in London, he has still managed to rack up 16 live cashes this year, amassing over $100,000 in winnings. Though he may have been a UKIPT regular up to this point, he says he may not be playing so frequently as his wife is expecting and gave him strict instructions to win this event.