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Great Scot!

Fife’s David Vamplew shoots himself to the top of the Scottish all-time money list with a hard-fought victory over John Juanda at EPT London

The World Series of Poker Europe may have stolen all the headlines over the past month, but some might argue that an action-packed UK calendar saw the best saved until last as the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour hit the capital.

Always a popular stop on the tour, this year’s event exceeded expectations as it attracted 848 runners – a field that more than doubled the total attendance for the WSOPE Main Event – who combined to create a total prize pool of over $4.1 million.

That meant that the winner of the event would take home a WSOPE-beating $900k first prize and – due in part to the half-price £5,000 entry fee – players from all over Europe and beyond joined the chase to capture the title and a life-changing payday.

Indeed, testament to the international field that the tournament attracted was provided at the final table, on which six nations were represented among the final eight, with America providing the biggest contingent with three home-grown players.

The trio from across the pond included 2008 WSOPE Main Event winner John Juanda, online sensation Tom ‘kingsofcards’ Marchese and Kyle Bowker and they were joined by Canada’s Kayvan Payman, Brazil native Fernando Brito, Pole Artur Wasek and Sweden’s Per Ummer, while David Vamplew was the table’s sole Brit.

The final table began with a very uneven distribution of chips as Bowker and Juanda shared the majority of the spoils and a number of players started play perilously short-stacked. As such, it was no surprise that the early eliminations came thick and fast.

First to go was Ummer who, after losing a substantial portion of his stack to Marchese in the table’s first all-in call, had little choice but to put it in and hope from the small blind with a meagre 5d 3c. Unfortunately for him, Wasek woke up behind with Ah Qd and one snap-call and a flopped queen later, Ummer was out the door.

The Pole would accumulate further chips in the next couple of orbits as he got himself on the right side of a cooler with pocket queens against Marchese’s pocket jacks, leaving the American crippled in the process. Marchese’s misery was completed soon after when his Ad 8d lost out to 10d 5d and he had to settle for seventh.

While these early knockouts were taking place, a sub-plot to the final table was unfolding between Vamplew and Juanda, with the Scot using his positional advantage to marshal Juanda’s big-stack aggression. It made an interesting contest and in the opening exchanges, it was Vamplew who was clearly getting the best of it.

However, despite the two foes trading chips virtually every hand, the next bust-out would involve neither as the perennially short-stacked Brito finally gave up the ghost. The Portugal-born Brazilian shoved over the top of a Bowker raise, and with so few chips he was instantly called only to see his Ah 6s unfortunately outrun by Jd 10d.

With the prize money now starting to get seriously big, the play started to tighten up a little and the Payman was the first to exploit that fact. The Canadian managed to get two all-ins through unscathed, but on his third attempt he ran into resistance after his shove was called by Bowker before Vamplew found a hand and moved in behind.

After some deliberation, Bowker folded with a pained expression on his face and the cards were revealed. It certainly didn’t make good reading for Payman as his Ah 4h was crushed by Vamplew’s pocket queens and an almost-but-not-quite board of 6h 3c 4d 5c 3h ensured that Payman would collect a payday of £190k for finishing fifth.

As well as eliminating the Canadian, the hand cost Bowker a further chunk of change and the American online player was now visibly on the slide. Fortunately for him, Bowker was given some respite when the short-stacked Wasek shipped his final 1.3 million into the pot over the top of Juanda’s opening bet and was quickly looked up.

With the cards on their backs, the Pole was left flipping for his tournament life with pocket fives against the As Jc of Juanda, but despite coming within one card of doubling back into contention, Wasek had to settle for fourth place after a cruel jack arrived on the river to end his main event dreams and leave play three-handed.

The chips soon evened out a little when Bowker was finally able to stop the rot by impressively picking off a nine-high bluff by Vamplew with just third pair and – with 25 million chips in play – at this stage only four million separated first from third as the business end of the tournament approached and a cagey battle began to unfold.

Play began to noticeably slow down and with none of three players wishing to jeopardise their shot at the title this deep, it was always going to take a huge hand to ensure the next elimination. Needless to say it finally came when a bet, a raise, a re-raise, a shove and a call saw Juanda and Bowker go head-to-head in a monster pot.

With the two Americans officially contesting the biggest hand at the final table so far, it was Bowker who was in a dominant position as his pocket jacks held a huge lead over Juanda’s pocket tens. However, with Juanda holding the ten of clubs, an all-club board gave him the flush and J-J cracked J-J to eliminate Bowker in third place.

That pot meant that Juanda held a 4-to-1 chip lead going into heads-up play, but he reckoned without the wave of momentum currently behind UK poker and after a lengthy, back-and-forth heads-up encounter that saw Vamplew double up more than once with the worst hand, it was the Scot who would eventually lift the EPT title.

The final hand came about after a level dominated by Vamplew saw Juanda’s stack dip to around 12 big blinds, leaving him with little choice but to shove his button with Kd 2d. Looking down at Ac 3h, Vamplew made the biggest call of his life and was instantly rewarded as a 3s Ad Qs 9s 6s board handed him a winning two-pair worth £900k.

The result instantly propelled Vamplew to the top of the Scottish all-time money rankings and ensured that a stellar six weeks of poker in England came to an end with another UK triumph in London. All jokes about the Thames aside, there’s definitely something in the water in the capital right now.

FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS

1st David Vamplew £900,000

2nd John Juanda £545,000

3rd Kyle Bowker £300,000

4th Artur Wasek £240,000

5th Kayvan Payman £190,000

6th Fernando Brito £145,000

7th Tom Marchese £100,000

8th Per Ummer £66,800
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