UKIPT Isle of Man

UKIPT Isle of Man

Monday, 30 December 2013

Eve Goodman rounds up the Manx action.

The UKIPT reappeared at the end of October, this time with one crucial difference – for the first time the tournament was held in the Isle of Man. You may be initially forgiven for meeting this news with a slightly blank, mystified stare. The small island in the Irish Sea is perhaps not an obvious choice for a large poker tournament; it has a tiny population of just 80,000, and it’s a plane journey for most players who plan on attending.

However, it’s not just a quirky little island where the seagulls fly free and the mobile roaming charges are extortionate (although both those things are regrettably true); the location carries a deeply personal significance. It is PokerStars’ home.

The poker giant originally made the move to the Isle of Man in 2005, setting up headquarters just minutes from the beach, and have never had a major tournament on home soil – until now, that is.

It must be said that the enthusiasm and excitement of the staff at the prospect of finally showing off PokerStars’ backyard was infectious. There was a well-coordinated emphasis on interaction between players and employees, with regular tours of the swish PokerStars HQ offices, open to anyone who fancied seeing how business was conducted from the other side of the screen. As well as this, the decision was made to allow PokerStars workers to enter any of the tournaments as long as they wore an identifying patch, which allowed everyone to chat and laugh together in easy camaraderie. My table draw for the £300 Isle of Man Cup side event included two guys from the department responsible for the crucial task of designing the online tournament structures, and it was clear that they were loving the chance to get involved just as much as the regular players.

Day 1A of the Main Event kicked off in spooky fashion on Thursday 31st Oct, and the Halloween theme was carried over to the player's party at the end of Day 1B. The bash was held in a quirky Tiki-themed bar that had been given a scary makeover – the resultant beach-chic spooky fusion was admittedly odd, but judging by the (ransacked) free bar and raucous dancing everybody had a good time. There was even a Halloween fancy dress competition, judged by Team Pros Jake Cody and Liv Boeree, which ended up being well-deservedly won by local Manx footballer Calum Morrissey. As well as some impressive face art, Calum somehow managed to have numerous blood-stained playing cards lodged in his torso. We think it was implied that he had fallen foul of the murderous rampage of a crazed degen dealt one bad beat too many.

UKIPT Boeree

Saturday morning saw scores of players almost certainly waking up with sore heads – this was partly because of the copious amounts of booze consumed at the party the night before, and partly because the fire alarm at the swanky players’ hotel inexplicably decided to go off at an eye-poppingly bright n’ early 6am. You haven’t lived until you've seen a crowd of still-drunk poker players, some still in their boxers, shivering on a darkened seaside street. Well, you probably have, but it was funny nonetheless.

By the time the action reached Day 3, there were still a handful of pros mixed in with the online qualifiers and local players; notable people who managed close, but no biscuit finishes included Full Tilt Ambassador Ben Jenkins (28th) and loveable funster Sam Razavi (17th). Excitement mounted on the rail as silver-whiskered veteran Barry Greenstein sailed through to short-handed play on the last two tables, but he sadly ended up busting a hair’s breadth away from the final table in 11th place. Until next time, Baz.

UKIPT Greenstein

The final table was a diverse bunch, albeit with some clear crowd favourites. These included glamorous hockey ace and Team PokerStars SportStar member Fatima Moreira De Melo, and head of PokerStars’ Team Online operations Chris Jonat. Going into the final table, it looked as though play was set to be dominated by UKIPT familiar Daniel Stacey and aggressive chip leader Jamie O’Connor. However, they were quickly dispatched within five minutes of each other, in sixth and seventh respectively. It was then that resident wrecking ball Duncan McLellan began throwing his weight around, eliminating both Harry Lodge and Chris Jonat in quick succession. Jonat, whose fellow coworkers at PokerStars had been given the day off to come and cheer him on, seemed slightly disappointed at the finish, but we’re sure he’ll enjoy the resultant office glory.


With only three left, play paused for deal negotiations and advice from Ike Haxton, but monster stack-owner McLellan understandably refused to budge and the action continued. Eventually, Richard Milne bust in third place, leaving Fatima De Melo to face McLellan heads up. If victorious, Fatima would have been the first ever woman to win a UKIPT title. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite recover from her chip deficit, and, one lost flip later, Duncan McLellan was crowned champion. McLellan, who is a successful bricklayer from Corby, expressed plans to take his grandson to Disneyland with the money. Aw, sweet.

UKIPT McClellan

So concluded the first ever Isle of Man leg of the UK and Ireland Poker Tour. PokerStars styled it as their ‘first official home game’, and I have to say that I think that their phrasing is spot on. It was undoubtedly a risk to hold it in such a remote location, but the decision to go back to their roots meant that they harnessed all the best bits of a home game – the personality, the laughs and the friendly atmosphere (but definitely not that one guy who always spills his drink on the table). Frankly, we can only see it getting bigger from here. Bravo, PokerStars, we’ll see you next year.

Qualify for future UKIPT events at PokerStars. New players can enjoy a 100% bonus of up to $400 on their first three deposits as well as entry into $50k worth of new depositor freerolls.

Tags: UKIPT Isle of Man, Eve Goodman, Duncan McLellan, Barry Greenstein, Liv Boeree,