There was a Dutch winner at the second leg of the inaugural PokerStars UK & Ireland Poker Tour Manchester this weekend and he goes by the name of Joeri Zandvliet.
Zandvliet, who at 21 years of age is confirming poker’s trend for precocious young champions barely out of nappies, took down the £63,200 first prize after beating a field of 518 players and pipping Englishman Jack Ellwood to the title in the heads-up following an eventful final day’s play.
The last day had it all, from penalties and blow-ups to suck-outs and big-balls’ calls before Zandvliet emerged from the settling dust as the last man standing. It could have all been very different had the in-form Dean Lyall not got so carried away, succumbing to one too many Vodka Red Bulls when landing himself a series of penalties, which forced him to sit out of a series of hands – and key pots.
But the Dutchman deserves credit for a couple of big plays, not least when calling Lyall’s mammoth bluff with just king high. So well done to the youngster, even if he did cruelly break Ellwood’s heart in the final hand, going all-in with [9h] [9c] to the Geordie’s [Ad] [Qs]. Ellwood’s hopes were raised when the board came up [5s] [6s] [Qd] and the turn revealed [8d], but the river swept him away with a [9d] – and the title went Dutch
Hopefully, this tournament will continue to grow in popularity and it is precisely characters like Lyall that the game needs in order to raise the profile of UK poker. So what if he was accused of nicking the odd small blind – that’s exactly the sort of controversy you want to earn a few headlines, attract some publicity and help UK poker compete with our American cousins.
UKIPT Manchester Final table payouts
1 Joeri Zandvliet – £63,200
2 Jack Ellwood – £37,500
3 Mike Hill -£23,500
4 Tony Millan – £15,100
5 Dean Lyall – £12,100
6 Chris Brammer – £9,100
7 Dan Owston – £6,500
8 Tim Brown – £4,800
9 Julian Hasse – £3,650
Of course you can’t really compete with the sort of prizes at stake on the WPT – which is ironic considering it is the UK and not the US where online and offline poker is legal and regulated, but its important to support home events like the UKIPT and the GKUPT, Leg 2 of which gets under way in Walsall on February 25.
These events really need to be televised to earn better exposure and prize money, particularly as the UK has some great talent, such as Jake Cody from Rochdale, who won a whopping €847,000 last month. So on that score a quick mention should really go out to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport team for doing their bit for promoting televised poker by creating the Party Poker Premier League – which has earned them the 2009 European Poker Award for Innovation.
2009 European Poker Awards
Player of the Year Vitaly Lunkin (Russia)
Europe’s Leading Lady Sandra Naujoks (Germany)
Rookie of the Year Antoine Saout (France)
Outstanding Tournament Perfomance Jeff Lisandro (Italy/Australia)
Internet Player Of The Year Patrick Antonius (Finland)
Poker Staff Person Of The Year Edgar Stuchly (Austria)
Rob Gardner Award For Innovation Eddie Hearn and the Matchroom Sport Team (England)
Lifetime Achievement Bruno Fitoussi (France)