With barely three-months passing into nothingness, the images of Sam ‘TheSquid’ Grafton lifting the 2012 Grosvenor United Kingdom Poker Tour (GUKPT) Grand Final have long since vanished into the memory. Grafton has surged forward with victory in the Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Sunday Brawl and a coveted berth as a general in the Phil Galfond army over at runitonce.com, but it’s a new year and time for a new tour. The attendances at live poker tournaments may be dwindling outside of the shores of the UK, but within the mainland everything is rosy, and that was rubber stamped by a hefty field of 397-runners in the £1,070 buy-in at Leg 1 GUKPT London. An event that was won by GUKPT regular Martin Bader.
The first GUKPT event of 2013 attracted a lot of high profile interest, which included the Global Poker Index (GPI) 2012 Player of the year (POY) Marvin Rettenmaier. The London based German was still licking his wounds after falling short at his attempt to be only the third man to win three World Poker Tour (WPT) titles, after finishing in fifth place at WPT Baden just a few weeks ago. It was another case of close but no cigar for the ‘Mad’ one as he fell short with just three tables remaining. Rettenmaier moving all-in from the small blind with ace-jack and the eventual winner, Bader, snapping him off with a pair of sevens. So another close shave for the German, showing the poker world that he is carrying his 2012 run-good – and play-good – into 2013.
Rettenmaier wasn’t the only big name to take a pew at GUKPT London. The IveyPoker Pros John Eames and Mathew Frankland were in tow and bearing their shiny new patches, and we also had an appearance from ‘The Vic’ stalwart Neil Channing; fresh from the launch of his new venture The Betting Emporium. The Hendon Mob was also present at ‘The Vic’ after Barny Boatman made the trip from WPT Baden to play in more familiar surroundings.
But when all eyes turned to the final table messrs Eames, Frankland, Channing and Boatman were nowhere to be seen. The man everyone was talking about was Marc Wright. Now Wright is a name that can cause temperatures to rise within the UK circuit, but it has to be said he can play a bit of poker. Wright entered the final table as the chip leader with 1.8 million chips. With form, experience and chips the smart money was on Wright to lift the title, but Bader had other ideas. The GUKPT journeyman was overdue his piece of silverware, and when you journey long enough you get your luck eventually. Bader was all-in with king-queen and facing a lot of problems with Wright also all-in holding the dominating ace-queen. Bader hit a straight on the river and with the favorite out of the way; he marched on to defeat David Barraclough, heads-up, for the first prize of £56,000.