The APAT Poker Association & Tour held the inaugural Masters Pro-Am at the G Casino Luton on 4th-5th October. The event had 78 entries, the majority new to APAT tournaments, paying £300 each for a registration fee free tournament. This was the first APAT event open to both amateur and professional players, not merely the recreational players eligible for APAT’s traditional National Championships. The individual winner received significant added value from tour sponsors Blue Square in the form of an expenses paid entry into the GUKPT Grand Final worth $8,000, in addition to their cash prize. Players began the event with 10,000 chips on a 40 minute clock.
The early chip leader was London’s Claire Macgregor and she was to remain near the head of affairs until near the final table. Dean Morris of Luton made dramatic progress when his flopped set of sevens knocked out Tracey Dell, who had pocket Kings on the seven high board. Also doing well was Gala Poker Tour event winner Neil Blatchley from Leicester, a consistent performer in mid buy-in events.
Tom McCready knocked out Linda Iwaniak with Aces against Queens but found his strong position compromised when Ian Bradley’s button push with Ace-Seven met McCready’s Aces in the big blind. A seven on the flop and the turn saved the day for Bradley. Both were to reach the final short-stacked after manoeuvring through the tense bubble period pre-final.
Regular festival player Paul King from Northampton was also going well, knocking out regular APATers such as Mike Bodman and Leigh Wiltshire late on day one with premium pocket pairs and finding Aces against Dave Baker on a King high flop. Baker himself was then very unfortunate. Holding AK he was four flushed by the AK of Carl Vernon.
Welshman Jason Jones, the APAT Scottish Amateur Champion, and Dylan Herbert also put in strong performances on day one, accumulating chips steadily. APAT World Amateur Championship finalist Briony Stone had a strong run from two tables out, knocking out Macgregor with Jacks against Queens, with the help of a Jack on the river.
So the final table line up, in seat order, was as follows:
1 Briony Stone 75,000
2 Tom McCready 68,000
3 Ian Bradley 50,000
4 Jason Jones 88,000
5 Dylan Herbert 124,000
6 Carl Vernon 66,000
7 Neil Blatchley 127,000
8 Paul King 70,000
9 Dean Morris 113,000
Blinds for the final table began at 3,000-6,000 so action was always likely to be swift. The two most aggressive players at the table were Neil Blatchley and Ian Bradley and they were to take early centre stage when Ian took his AQ against Neil’s pocket tens all-in pre-flop. Ian hit a straight on the river to double up.
However thereafter Neil really dominated the table through continued pre-flop aggression and finding good situations when he picked up hands. He knocked out Tom McCready in 9th with QQ versus AK. Soon after, Blatchley raising with Kings on the button, found Paul King with AK suited in the small blind, who, with no help was eliminated in 8th.
Briony Stone having a quiet final table, found pocket sevens in the small blind in an unopened pot and was met by a call from the A4 suited from Ian Bradley. An Ace flopped to knock Briony out in 7th. Ian Bradley then went on a roller-coaster. His stack was decimated versus Carl Vernon with A7 versus A9 and then he doubled through Jason Jones.
Neil Blatchley then won two vital races, knocking out Ian Bradley with pocket nines versus King Jack and Carl Vernon with Jacks versus Ace-Queen. Four handed he had the majority of chips in play, at which point a deal was agreed in which Neil took the most money, and the four participants played on for the title and GUKPT Grand Final package.
Neil’s charge continued and he went on to eliminate Dean Morris in 4th, Jason Jones in 3rd and Dylan Herbert in 2nd, to secure that seat, as well as the title of APAT Masters Champion 2008.