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Neil Channing answers £64,000 question

After a series of heads-up defeats in recent months Neil Channing finally came good at the GUKPT Luton, taking down a tournament that included its fair share of controversy. Gareth Bracken followed the action

If the true test of a champion is how they react to disappointment, Neil ‘Bad Beat’ Channing was a more than worthy winner of the GUKPT Luton Main Event. Having finished second in January’s iPoker Monthly Million, the GUKPT London Main Event and the $5,000 WSOP Shootout, the popular London-based pro could have been forgiven for thinking it simply wasn’t going to be his year. However, three days and £64,050 later it became clear that he had merely been getting warmed up.

Channing finished Day 1A in seventh place and soon assumed the chip lead on Day 2. He held this position until the third and final day, making it to a final table that included side-event winner Jeff Kimber, Ricky Mackintosh, George White, Les Fenton, Carlo Citrone, Joe Grech, Adebayo Odetoyinbo and Keith Johnson.

It took a while for Channing to get going but once he did there was no stopping him. Kimber and Grech had already hit the rail in ninth and eight places respectively before Bad Beat began to get involved. He dismissed Fenton with a set of fives before despatching of Citrone shortly afterwards, T-8 proving no match for K-8.

Mackintosh had exited in between, meaning it was now down to the final four.

The chip counts shortly after Citrone’s elimination read: Channing 1040k, Johnson 960k, White 900k and Odetoyinbo 539k. Odetoyinbo was a constant talker at the table, seemingly trying to unsettle his opponents. He was certainly not afraid to put his money where his considerable mouth was either, going all-in on numerous occasions, though not always getting called.

White had found pocket Aces an astonishing four times during the day’s play but eventually exited the contest after shoving with sixes. Another on the flop gave him a set, but Johnson hit running clubs for the flush. That left Johnson as the chip leader, followed by Channing and Odetoyinbo.

Next it was Channing’s turn to shove, going all-in with Ac-9c. Odetoyinbo called instantly with pocket nines. The first card on the flop was a nine, though a subsequent Ace presented Channing with a couple of outs. No further assistance was forthcoming however and Odetoyinbo doubled up, hauling himself to 810k with Channing left on 800k.

A moment of confrontation followed, although it wasn’t actually anything to do with the action on the felt. Indeed it was between hands when Odetoyinbo complained to a blogger and photographer standing behind him about the noise they were making. An apology followed, accompanied by a touch on the shoulder. “Don’t ******* touch me. I’m playing poker here!” was Odetoyinbo’s less than gracious response.

That flare-up was followed by a period of fairly uneventful play, with a pattern of pre-flop raises, all-ins and folds emerging. The repetition was broken in some style however when, following a Channing raise with A-K, Johnson went all-in with sevens. After checking his cards Channing made the call, and he would have been delighted to see a King emerge as the first card on the flop. A couple of Queens and couple of eights followed, none of which were any help to Johnson, who was left with just 360k.

Johnson managed to double-up shortly afterwards to drag himself back into the contest with 750k, but it was to be only a temporary reprieve. Barely ten minutes later he shoved with A-9 and was called by Odetoyinbo’s pocket nines. The flop brought no help and he departed in third place, collecting £28,050 for his three days work.

That left Channing and Odetoyinbo in heads-up combat. These two big personalities had been clashing all day and it looked like there could be fireworks. As it was, it was all over in little under a quarter of an hour. After just a few hands Odetoyinbo raised with A-9 and Channing, holding A-K, went over the top. Odetoyinbo responded with a shove and Channing made an instant call. Channing was in a strong position and Odetoyinbo could find no way back on the flop, leaving Bad Beat as the GUKPT Luton champion.

Speaking to Gambling after the event, Channing said that it was “great to win”. He added that he hadn’t actually been entering many GUKPT events recently but had decided to give this one a go. “I’ve been too busy to play them all,” he said, “but I thought I’d make an effort for Luton”.

Discussing the blogger incident, he said: “It was obviously pretty annoying for Ade but he didn’t handle himself very well.” Indeed, Channing wasn’t very impressed with his heads-up opponent’s conduct throughout the tournament, citing an incident on the Saturday where Odetoyinbo attempted to disguise the strength of his pocket aces by claiming he had lost track of the action and hadn’t meant to announce a raise. He was forced to honour his original announcement and later revealed the monster pair. “I don’t want to make a big thing out of it,” Channing said, “but I find him totally classless. I’m not saying it’s cheating, but I asked him if he thought Phil Ivey would do something like that.”

Channing’s opinion of his rival wasn’t improved by their final table encounter either. “He’s rude, insulting and bit of a bully. I tried to rise above it, but it did tilt me a bit,” admitted Bad Beat. “It’s good to have characters in poker but he’s over the top. His tactics are designed to unsettle inexperienced players. On this occasion, this experienced player didn't enjoy the experience of playing him too much, but it simply made me doubly determined to beat him.”

FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS

1st Neil Channing – £64,050
2nd Adebayo Odetoyinbo – £43,500
3rd Keith Johnson – £28,050
4th George White – £16,600
5th Carlo Citrone – £12,600
6th Ricky Mackintosh – £10,300
7th Les Fenton – £8,000
8th Joe Grech – £6,300
9th Jeff Kimber – £4,600
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