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Ellis takes GUKPT Grand Final; Smith is GUKPT POY
After a thrilling heads-up match, London's Michael Ellis was able to come back from a sizable deficit to take the Grand Final championship at the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in London, England.
A stunning 198 players plopped down the £3,000 to take part in the event, the field of which was supplemented by the victors of the previous nine stops of the GUKPT. These included WSOP bracelet winner Pras Banzi, actor Michael Greco and European poker legends Dave Colclough and Julian Thew.
As the battle headed for the final table, there were still other professionals who had a shot. Veteran poker player John Kabbaj, Hendon Mobster Ross Boatman and the aforementioned Colclough were all in the running for seats at the final table but came up short, finishing in 10th through 12th place respectively.
The final table, though, would have some drama for the GUKPT Player of the Year race as Ben Vinson came to it with a chance to catch Chesterfield, England's Dave Smith for the overall title.
Ellis came to the felt behind Vinson and in the middle of the pack as play started. He was able to avoid the early carnage as Simon Zach, online qualifiers Paul Moss and Owen Lock, and Dave Barnes took early exits from the tournament in ninth through sixth place respectively.
Another online qualifier, Carlos Barrera, took the fifth-place slot and Vinson's run at the POY title was ended with his elimination in fourth place. With the elimination of final-table chip leader Mark Friedman in third, it was down to a heads-up fight between Ellis and fellow Londoner Sami Yusef.
Ellis held a 2-1 advantage in chips early in the action but Yusef was able to take over the lead after Ellis missed a straight draw against Yusef's top pair. Ellis didn't allow the setback to derail him, however, as he kept a level head and slowly worked his way back into the chip lead.
On the final hand, Ellis and Yusef got all the chips into the middle for a race situation, Ellis' A-K a slight underdog to Yusef's pocket queens. Yusef faced elation and concern when the flop brought a 10-Q-8 board, giving Yusef the set but opening up a gut-shot straight draw for Ellis.
After a crushing jack came on the turn, Yusef was left to call for the case queen or a pairing of the board to stay alive. It was only after a six came, failing to help Yusef, that Michael Ellis was able to capture the championship of the Grand Final.
The final table finished out as follows:
The Grosvenor UK Poker Tour will be taking the holiday season off but will jump back into action come January. The first event of 2008 will be held in Brighton Jan. 17-20 and should feature more of the great action that has become the hallmark of the series.
For more information on GUKPT events and how to qualify for them online, visit GrosvenorUKPokerTour.com.