Over the years, the team from England have arrived at APAT International Team Events as one of the favourites, with the expectations of a nation on their shoulders. Some England squads have come close, but ultimately, all have failed to live up to that top billing and secure the gold medals.
That was until last night at Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, where the England team finally banished the doubters and the wait was finally over to call themselves champions.
Going into the second day of the APAT World Amateur Team Championship, England were sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard having put in a solid day one against the other eleven teams competing in the event. Portugal were closely on their heels though, with a chasing pack including Italy, Ireland, Spain and the USA.
Day two would see three more Sit n Go sessions, before the top four team playing off for the medals in a heads up shootout.
The first session of the day saw another steady performance from England, Italy and Spain, with the Canadian team top scoring to bring them back into contention.
Into the second session, and England hit a blip. Team skipper, Steve Redfern, and his Midlands compatriot, Tony Trippier, both exited first in their matches. Would this be the start of an implosion of the highest order ? Not quite, as Asa McGrath, Carl Pilgrim and Stuart Ward all finished top 3 to ensure a recovery, but Italy top scored the session and the gap had closed at the top. More worringly for the top two, the chasing pack was picking up some momentum, with Spain, Portugal, Canada, Ireland and now France, all hunting down a top four finish.
Into the final session of the day, and as expected, many players were under team orders to tighten up and get their teams home. It appeared that the Portugal team had other ideas though. Captain, Bruno Rilho, appeared to have given his team orders to go for the win. All or broke. Unfortunately for them, the plan was unsuccesful, and the early elimination of all of their players took them out of the running.
That left Italy and England to secure the top two spots, with another victory for Italian captain Luca Cannella meaning he would finish top individual scorer. A few exits later, and Spain were confirmed in third, but there was a story brewing just below the top three in the leaderboard. Canada were sitting in fourth place, with all of their players now on the rail. They had set the target required for any other team to sneak into the medal matches.
Ireland lost a player. That was it for them and it appeared to be over for any other team. France had three players still in, all now heads up in their respective matches. France had played a steady game over the two days, but were never really troubling the top of the leaderboard. French Captain, Jean Michel Ballocchi, had crunched the numbers and was aware that if his team mates won all of their games, they would sneak into the fourth place spot. With a look of shock on his face, he quickly ran around the cardroom to infom his players. Just as he got to Franck Viollet’s table, the Frenchman was pushing his short stack allin against Warren Jones from Wales. A double up for Frank. Could this really be on ?
Tristan Rambaud won his match, and after a flopped straight when allin with J8 v JJ, Samuel Fossat also secured a win. That left the Frank Viollet and Warren Jones match. The rail had gathered, with the Canadian team sportingly supporting whichever country France were up against, they had moved from being Spanish, to Irish and were now firmly behind the Welshman Warren.
The heads up went back and forth, but it was the man from Wales that finally won, meaning France missed out by the slightest of margins, and Canada had made it into the Bronze Medal playoff.
The scene was now set for ten heads up matches to decide where the prizepool, medals, WCOAP Bracelets, and most importantly, the title of World Amateur Team Champions would be heading.
Italy played England for the top honours, with Spain playing Canada for the bronze medals.
The bronze medal match was a close affair. Phil Hertel scored first for the Canadians, before Enrique Herranze levelled for the Spaniards. Rinchen Tashi put the Canadians back into the lead, but that was short lived as Spain fired back with a win for Javier Gomez-Olaya. That meant it was down to the last match. Laura Cantero for Spain, up against Cat Gartmann for Canada. After a long tussle, the Canadian won out to seal the victory 3-2, much to the delight of her team mates.
Early on in the Gold medal match, Stuart Ward made it 1-0 to England, beating Guiseppe Maggisano. It was a while before we had a second result, but it was another on the board for England, with Carl Pilgrim beating Luigi Belleri. This was closely followed by Tony Trippier beating Gabriel Lemmito, meaning it was 3-0 to England and the place erupted with English players and rail alike cheering, hugging, and shedding the odd tear. They had done it, they were APAT World Amateur Team Poker Champions.
You can follow all of the action from the rest of APAT’s World Championship Of Amateur Poker on the APAT Forum