Chris O’Donnell Lifts UKIPT Brighton Main Event Title

Chris O 'DonnellSouthampton’s Chris O’Donnell last night secured the PokerStars UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) Brighton event after defeating home favourite Richard ‘riksanchez’ Hasancebi in a demanding heads-up clash to leave with a cheque for £71,100 (approximately €81,500 or $114,000).

Online cash specialist O’Donnell – who is nicknamed Bobby Big Head by friends – moved into first place midway through Day 1 of the £500+£60 (€572/$804+€69/$96) No-Limit Hold’em main event held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel on the south coast of England and always looked like making the final table.

The 26-year-old – who began playing poker for fun about three years ago – was taking part in just his second UKIPT event after playing Manchester in March, but beat out a record Brighton main event entry of 603 to lift the trophy from a prize pool that hit £292,455 (€334,458/$470,293).

Last year’s main event entry of 259 was easily surpassed, as was London-based Jamie Burland’s first prize of £65,400 (€75,000/$105,000), while this year’s top 81 players were paid a minimum of £750 (€858/$1,207) and the final-table participants were guaranteed at least £6,900 (€7,900/$11,100).

O’Donnell had entered the final table by joking that he didn’t “really have” a strategy for his aim to collect the top prize, and was “just going to see what happens…and basically wing it”.

Well, whatever his strategy was, it most certainly worked as he defeated 29-year-old poker pro Richard Hasancebi – who started the final table as chip leader – in a rollercoaster heads-up battle that took three-and-a-half hours to complete.

Hasancebi – who specialises in small stakes cash games – began the main event final table with 2,174,000 chips to sit well above O’Donnell’s 382,000, but couldn’t eliminate the eventual winner when it came to their heads-up fight.

We got to one-on-one play after 62-year-old Londoner Jeff Duval was eliminated in third for £25,300 (€29,000/$40,700), Norwegian Rudi Johnsen was sent out in fourth for £18,600 (€21,300/$30,000), Sinem Melin, of Hertfordshire, exited in fifth for £14,900 (€17,000/$24,000), Cardiff 19-year-old David Rudling-Smith left in sixth for £11,400
(€13,000/$18,300), David Trigg, of London, hit the rail in seventh for £8,950
(€10,250/$14,400), and the Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Horak fell in eighth for £6,900 (€7,900/$11,100).

Horak, from Litomerice, enjoyed a good Brighton stop as the 34-year-old also picked up £1,300 (€1,487/$2,093) for finishing third in the £100+£10 (€114/$161+€11.40/$16.10) No-Limit Hold’em side event from his first UKIPT visit.

Incidentally, Duvall is quite a legend on the British poker scene, having picked up a third place in the $1,500 Omaha Hi-low Split event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2005, as well as $178,857 for finishing in 42nd spot in the 2009 WSOP main event.

However, by the time we had reached just two players, O’Donnell was definitely in control with approximately a seven million to two million chip lead against Hasancebi.

O’Donnell – who had started the final table with just 382,000 chips to sit in seventh place – quickly moved into an 8 to 1 lead, although Hasancebi remained calm as he rightly realised that the blinds structure allowed him more than a little breathing space to chip up.

Amazingly, with O’Donnell unable to complete the job, Hasancebi took over as chip leader following a few all-in successes. O’Donnell was then forced to dig in as neither player was willing to give any ground.

However, after about 210 minutes of batting against each other – including several more all-ins – O’Donnell did emerge as the victor when his A K held up against Hasancebi’s A 7. Hasancebi left with £41,300 (€47,300/$66,400).

O’Donnell has said that he plans to participate in many more UKIPT events and may well make an appearance at the next stop on the tour, which moves north to Scotland for next month’s four-day tournament in Edinburgh.

The seventh leg of the UKIPT’s inaugural season possesses a guaranteed prize pool of £200,000 (€227,169/$319,028) for and event that runs from August 11-14 at the Corn Exchange.

The main event has a £500+£60 (€572/$804+€69/$96) buy-in, with the maximum number of entrants set at 700.

The UKIPT moves over to Ireland for the eighth stop, with the €250,000-guaranteed Dublin event and Irish Final taking place at the Ballsbridge Inn.

UKIPT Dublin – which is sure to provide a warm Irish welcome party and more than a little raucous entertainment each night – runs from September 8-12, and features a €500+€60 (£437/$704+£52.50/$84.50) buy-in main event with a 700-player capacity.

Later in September, the Metropole will play host to The PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) London Poker Festival as part of the EPT’s eighth season.

Last season’s main event attracted 730 participants to become the biggest poker tournament in UK history, although this year’s staging could well break that high point with a 1000-capacity £5,000+£250 (€5,716/$8,050+€286/$402) main event on offer during the September 30-October 5 festival.

Top 10 placings and payouts from the UKIPT Brighton:

1. Chris O’Donnell (Southampton, UK) – £71,100 (€81,500/$114,000)

2. Richard Hasancebi (Brighton, UK) – £41,300 (€47,300/$66,400)

3. Jeff Duvall (London, UK) – £25,300 (€29,000/$40,700)

4. Rudi Johnsen (Trondheim, Norway) – £18,600 (€21,300/$30,000)

5. Sinem Melin (Hertfordshire, UK) – £14,900 (€17,000/$24,000)

6. David Rudling-Smith (Cardiff, UK) – £11,400 (€13,000/$18,300)

7. David Trigg (London, UK) – £8,950 (€10,250/$14,400)

8. Jaroslav Horak (Litomerice, Czech Republic) – £6,900 (€7,900/$11,100)

9. Alex Ferguson (UK) – £4,930 (€5,640/$7,930)

10. Neil Barron (UK) – £3,550 (€4,062/$5,710)