The APAT Poker Association & Tour held the first event of its second season, the English Amateur Poker Championship in Walsall’s Grosvenor Casino, on 3rd-4th November. The event had 200 entries plus alternates, who qualified by high finishes in the first round of APAT Regional Events, online satellites and direct payment. The players were again offered a Â£75 freeze-out with 10,000 starting chips, a slow clock, Â£3,500 to the winner plus significant added value from new tour sponsors BlueSquare.com via the form of entry into a GUKPT event in 2008 in London worth $3,000 to the winner in addition to their cash prize, trophy, medal and Player of the Year ranking points.
Initial progress was slow with few exits and solid play seeming to be the order of the day. Post dinner several players began to emerge from the pack. Amongst these were 18-year-old Jon Spinks from Devon, Darren Shallis, Steve Talbot and Rich Offless, a finalist at the last APAT National Championship. Indeed Talbot became the first player over the 100,000 chip mark when he managed to eliminate two players on one hand when calling two all-ins pre flop with JJ (versus QQ and KK): a jack flopping to give him trips. Towards the end of the day local player Mike Hopkinson went on a tear winning a series of races to rise to approaching 200,000 chips before Talbot matched him, eliminating Tom Fielding who had run his Kings into Talbot’s Aces.
Jon Spinks and Steve Talbot
Towards the end of the day the rate of attrition was high as the blinds rose and indeed when play ended we had reached the money positions with twenty players remaining. Ralph Shalson was the unlucky player exiting in 21st, looking down at AJ in the BB to Spink’s push in the SB, he called and found himself against A6off. Sadly for him a 6 hit the turn to knock him out and continue Spinks’ excellent run that had seem him reach a leading postion by virtue of confident and aggressive play.
The chip leaders at the end of Day one were as follows:
Mike Hopkinson 321,000
Dan Bradbury 200,500
Steve Talbot 190,500
Jon Spinks 176,000
Richard Offless 162,500
Paul Davis 135,000
Darren Shallis 102,000
Play down to the final table on the second day did not take long with a series of short-stacked players forced to be active. Darren Shallis was the player who made the most substantial progress, eliminating Mark Williams with AA versus KK whilst elsewhere the likes of Andrew Tracey (finding AA versus JJ to double up and then QQ versus Alan Armitage’s AA, only to river a Queen) and Rich Offless were managing to negotiate their way through a couple of levels of push and fold poker.
With 14 players left Jon Spinks crippled the stack of early leader Steve Talbot, AA versus AK suited, all-in pre-flop and took a commanding position and a stack that he was using to good effect. However perhaps his aggression was to be his undoing on this occasion when he tangled with co-chip leader Shallis around the bubble.
Shallis raised in mid position and Spinks called on the button with 7s6s. A flop of 9-5-4 saw Shallis bet out and Spinks push in. Shallis thought for a long time before making what was to prove to be an excellent call when Spinks’ draw did not hit. This hand (and one soon after which saw his JJ hold up to knock out Hopkinson with AQ with 10 left) gave Shallis nearly 50% of the chips in play as we reached the final table.
The line up for the final table was as follows:
Darren Shallis from Newport 904,500
Rich Offless from Mold 271,500
Andrew Tracey from London 271,000
Neil Walsh from Cannock 142,000
Dan Bradbury from Bath 109,500
Brendan from Accrington 92,000
Mike Young from Cardiff 90,000
Alan Armitage from Halifax 82,000
Paul Davis from Essex 60,500
With blinds beginning at 6,000-12,000 play was always going to be fast in the early stages of the final. Indeed we lost Mike Young on the first hand to Dan Bradbury and soon thereafter the unlucky Alan Armitage saw his push with pocket tens called by Offless with pocket nines only to see the board come 7-8-7-6-5 to knock him out in 8th.
Paul Davis had seemed to be card-dead for long stretches of the second day but then received a crucial boost when his AA held versus Bradbury’s AK to knock Dan Bradbury out in 7th. Meanwhile Shallis had maintained a strong chip-lead with Offless challenging in second and the remainder relatively short-stacked. Andrew Tracey then received a bad beat, taking AKs versus Shallis’ AQ off all-in pre-flop only to see a Queen hit the board to knock him out in 6th.
Five handed play continued, cagily, for over two hours with Offless the most active player. When the elimination hiatus was finally ended it was Brendan departing in 5th when his 6-6 lost a race versus Offless’ A8 suited.
Four handed the key hand of the tournament occurred between the two chip leaders Shallis and Offless. Offless had taken to limping in late position, and taking pots uncontested with post flop bets and he limped again on the button with Shallis checking in the big blind. Both saw a 9-4-3 rainbow flop and the betting took off with Shallis check raising Offless and then pushing in on a seemingly blank Jack turn. Offless seemed worried that he had trapped himself when he called and flipped AA, slow-played for on this occasion maximum reward. Shallis had flopped pair and his hand did not improve on the river and he exited in 4th, giving Offless 75% of the chips in play and an end in sight.
Neither Neil Walsh or Paul Davis were able to make inroads into Offless’ lead three handed. Davis was knocked out by Offless in third before a one hand heads-up contest with Walsh having only 80,00 of the 2m chips in play. Offless’ Qd6d held on against Walsh’s J10off to make Rich Offless the 2007 English Amateur Poker Champion.
Davis – took bronze
Walsh – took silver
Rich Offless – 2007 English Amateur Champion, being presented with his cup and medal by Peter Stagles from Blue Square and Tournament Director Danny from Grosvenor Walsall
APAT’s second series resumes in December with the UK Amateur Poker Championship at Manchester’s G Casino. See www.apat.com for more details.