It was a battle of the “K”s at the top of the UKIPT Dublin Leaderboard at the end of Day 1A, with PokerStars qualifier, Nik Kamal, “nikking” a slender lead over the remainder of the field at the death.
Norway´s Patrik Kaltrud is a little more than a small blind back in second, with a host of quality Irish and European players hot on their tails.
Big Field for a Big Event
The PokerStars sponsored UKIPT Dublin is the penultimate stop on this year´s UK and Ireland Poker Tour, with the series finale part of the EPT London festivities which kick off on September 30th. It shares with Galway (which has a buy-in twice that of Dublin) the biggest guaranteed prize pool of any of the Main Events outside of London (€250,000), and consequently a near-capacity field of 700 is expected to compete in the €560.00 buy-in tournament after 285 ponied up on Day 1A.
Ten Levels Later, Only 80 Remain
A relatively sedate start (only two players busted out with the first one-hour level) exploded into an elimination frenzy after the first break. Jamie Dale, Richie Lawlor and Gareth (No) Cash were among the pre-dinner exits accompanied by UKIPT Edinburgh High Roller winner Jon Spinks and two of the players who had been expected to challenge Rupinder Bedi´s lead at the top of the GUKPT Season 2 leaderboard – Sam Ravazi and Chris Dowling.
Chris O´Connor Takes Big Lead
The post-dinner attention surrounded Ireland´s Chris O´Connor who, in three hands, had amassed a chip stack almost double in size to the second placed player at the time (Czech Matej Lyko, 80,000), and five times the average. Chris´ first big gain had occurred when he called a 23,000 chip shove with pocket Sixes which held up against Ace-King. He then busted pocket Kings with a flopped set of tens, and stacked up to 155,000 chips calling another shove (A♦ 9♥) with A♥ Q♠.
O´Connor Crushed …
Incredibly, Chris O´Connor lost the chip lead on a hand which had he won would have possibly enabled him to sit out the whole of Saturday. The big man was sitting in the big blind with K♥ K♦, when Ektor Strumi (A♣ 6♠) three-bet all-in for his last 6,600 chips against Brendan Byrne´s 2,000 chip raise. O´Connor went over the top to 17,000 and Brendan Byrne (10♠ 10♦) shoved his remaining 26,000 chips into the pot. The 10♣ on the flop set the pot to Byrne and deprived O´Connor of a massive lead. The loss seemed to have a negative effect on O´Connor, and by the end of the day he had been overtaken for the chip lead.
… and Kamal Connects
Nik Kamal became the overnight chip leader on one of the more fortunate hands of the day. Getting all his chips in pre-flop in what was possibly an outrageous bluff (K♠ 3♠) against Nick Newport´s A♦ K♥. The A♣ K♦ 3♥ flop gave Newport a definite advantage, which he maintained when the 7♦ turned on the board. However, the 3♣ on the river sent the massive pot the way of Kamal who now has 122,500 chips
Looking Forward to Day 1B
Day 1B looks set to be a belter. As well as UKIPT Leaderboard contenders Rupinder Bedi and Nick Abu Risk expected to play, last year´s UKIPT Dublin winner Max Silver and UKIPT Champion of Champions, David Vamplew, are flying in from competing in the WPT Paris and will be joined by PokerStars pros Jude Ainsworth and Liv Boeree. It will be tough for the home boys to keep the UKIPT title their side of the Irish Sea!