MPNPT London has played to a winner and it is Estonian Paf qualifier Uku Valner who has won this special 5th Anniversary Birthday leg of the tour – defeating Terry Simpson heads up to claim the trophy on this unique occasion. It was especially impressive from Valner, given at one point in the tournament he had been reduced to 2 big blinds. An epic turnaround by any definition.
“It’s my first cash in the Main Event!” enthused Valner following his victory for £50,000 after a long but ultimately rewarding final table battle. He was very complimentary of the MPNPT tournament environment. “The atmosphere is very friendly – it’s competitive but always fun at the tables; it’s not like work – we always have a good time!”
The Microgaming poker tour returned to Aspers Casino, London for its fifth anniversary – going full circle as this was the locale for the very first venue the tour ever visited. It proved a popular decision as the number of entrants eclipsed all previous legs bar MPNPT @ Battle of Malta, the £200,000 guarantee well and truly smashed as a huge prizepool was created to play for – £280,368 in total.
After three days of poker, the 649 entries that were made during the three opening flights had been whittled down to 28 players. They all returned at the start of the day and it took some time before the elimination of Tai Hoang in 10th place saw our final nine players line up to contend the trophy as follows:
Seat 1 David Rudling 1,880,000
Seat 2 James Williams 3,120,000
Seat 3 Chris Da-Silva 685,000
Seat 4 John Magnusson 3,470,000
Seat 5 Nikolay Ponomarev 4,640,000
Seat 6 George Achillea 885,000
Seat 7 Gary Miller 1,945,000
Seat 8 Uku Valner 1,450,000
Seat 9 Terence Simpson 1,440,000
The final started with some drama – Chris Da-Silva threatening a comeback with his shortstack as his A-Q spiked a winner versus Nikolay Ponomarev’s A-K to give him hope – though his next foray into dominated territory spelled his demise as his pocket deuces failed to overturn their underdog status against Williams’ nines, seeing him finish in 9th place for £5,200.
The next elimination surprisingly saw James Williams crash out. He had been in the leading pack for all of the final but played out a huge hand against fellow big-stack John Magnusson – his top pair losing out to Magnusson’s flopped set. Down to a bowl of rice, he was threatening to turn it into an entire paddy field as his 25,000 was transformed to over 700,000 in a series of coups. Finally though the fairytale comeback was curtailed as he lost a coin-flip to Gary Miller – his day done in 8th for £6,900.
The blinds were now rising and Miller was feeling the pressure – going for the blinds with J-Q, David Rudling picked him off with A-T suited and a turned ace left Miller drawing dead. 7th place for last year’s WPT500 winner added £8,700 to the 34 year old poker pro’s growing poker war chest.
George Achillea was a bundle of fun throughout the final, cracking jokes and taking good and bad fortune with good humour but his hopes of the title were crippled as his jacks ran into Simpson’s kings and despite flopping a jack, a king on the river left him with just a few chips. Like Williams before him – he almost turned this round, dramatically winning pot after pot to reach 7 figures once again but finally his dream renaissance dissolved in similar fashion as he shoved a random king only to run into a dominating big slick to send him out in 6th place for £10,600. Thanks for the entertaining poker you’ve provided George and well played. We’d love to see you again on the tour.
Former chip leader Ponomarev had little go right for him on the final and his exit was a microcosm of his general misfortune – his A-K losing out to A-Q after the latter hit a runner-runner straight. £13,000 was his reward for the hard work that saw him into 5th spot and he can look forward to a profitable future in poker if he keeps up this standard of play.
David Rudling played a smart and canny game – switching gears at the right times and keeping himself well in contention until near the end. He eventually succumbed as a blind steal with suited connectors ran into Magnusson’s ace-queen and that was it for Rudling and his boisterous, “well-oiled” rail – 4th place and £18,000 awaiting him at the cash desk.
With the tournament approaching its denouement, it was John Magnusson who blinked three-handed – his Q-9 suited shove running headfirst into Terry Simpson’s big slick. No outdraw – much to the disappointment of John’s loyal Norwegian rail and suddenly we were heads-up for the title!
Valner took around a 2-1 chip lead into the heads-up but Simpson battled his way to parity and even the chip lead at certain points with some unorthodox bet sizing that looked like it was confusing Valner at times.
Eventually though Valner won the key pot – taking the last of Simpson’s chips with Ace-jack versus king-jack and he was crowned champion, winning the trophy, £50,000 cash, plaudits and even a last longer Paf package that will see him return for MPNPT @ Battle of Malta.
Simpson can also be very proud of his efforts in finishing runner-up to collect £37,538 having entered the final table as one of the shorter stacks. His rise through the counts to the cusp of victory was just one of the many twists this final table threw up. Rumour is M. Night Shyamalan is planning a film adaptation – working title, “The Shippening…”
Aside from the Main Event, there were a multitude of stories and other news on the side. The fiercely contested Birthday Boy competition was taken down by Oskar Webbe, outlasting the other four finalists to secure a delicious €1,500 package for MPNPT @ Battle of Malta. Well done Oskar!
It’s been a truly enjoyable tournament, packed to the rafters with incident and action. We’ve had a wonderful time with our players and hosts here at Aspers casino and we can’t wait to come back again some time. For now though – that’s it for us. The next stop on the MPNPT will be MPNPT @ Battle of Malta which promises to be another memorable event – you won’t want to miss out on this when it takes place 15th to 22nd October. There will be numerous satellites and other ways to qualify for Malta – start planning now!
Thanks for following us on our journey to crown the MPNPT London champion. It’s been a fantastic journey – join us next time to be a part of the tour. We’d love to see you.
MPNPT LONDON FULL RESULTS:
|14||Alexander Clark||Grosvenor Poker||£3,080|
|19||David Gee||Grosvenor Poker||£2,320|
|22||Birajay Paul Singh||£2,070|
|23||Glen Gaines||Grosvenor Poker||£2,070|
|25||Gonzalo Gonzalez Guy||£1,820|
|33||Paul McTaggart||Grosvenor Poker||£1,590|
|38||Kevin Dean||Grosvenor Poker||£1,370|
|44||Andrew Macleod||Grosvenor Poker||£1,370|
|48||Annette Julia O’Carroll||32Red||£1,170|
|52||Dmitrijs Golovanovs||Grosvenor Poker||£1,170|
|53||Matthew Cheetham||Palace Casino||£1,170|
|57||Jose Alonso Alarcon||£980|
|72||Dinarte De Sousa||£840|