Ex-footballer wins GUKPT Bolton stop

Tony Cascarino

Tony Cascarino has never had any trouble showing his striking ability, though in the past it was on the green soccer fields whereas this time around he was making his presence known on the poker felt.

Cascarino, an ex-Republic of Ireland footballer, won the seventh leg of the Grosvenor U.K. Poker Tour in Bolton last weekend to rack up a £52,850 prize.

To get to that win during the four-day tournament, Cascarino had to overcome local legend Ali Mallu in heads-up play. Mallu had dominated the final table from its start, and after Roberto Romanello was eliminated in third place, he had a 4-1 chip lead over Cascarino.

Mallu continued to press hard, using his big stack and aggressive style to try to power his way to a win, but Cascarino held his ground. Two hands in a row, Mallu pushed all-in, only to see Cascarino make the call and take down both hands.

With that, the tide had turned as Mallu was left with a little more than $60,000 in chips as they went into a dinner break. When play resumed, it only took a few hands before Cascarino had the win in hand.

In the final hand, Cascarino had A 8 against Mallu's 9 3. The flop brought 5 3 T to give Cascarino the flush and the victory.

"I had a great sports career, but even this I think has overtaken some of the things I have done in football," Cascarino said. "I just enjoyed it. I've had a strange year, and this has made a big difference for me in the poker world."

Cascarino has been a regular on the U.K. poker circuit for the past two years after taking up poker six years ago. The 46-year-old has previously won invitational events in the Caribbean, but the GUKPT win is his first major victory on home soil.

He did it against a fairly well-stacked field as well. Though this was the smallest field for a GUKPT main event so far this season, the final table featured several prominent pros including Surinder Sunar and Kevin O'Leary.

The final-table results were:

Place Player Prize
1st Tony Cascarino £52,850
2nd Ali Mallu £30,600
3rd Roberto Romanello £21,900
4th Rob Sherwood £14,900
5th Kevin O'Leary £11,400
6th Dennis Clough £8,750
7th Surinder Sunar £7,000
8th Sid Harris £5,250
9th Greg Hunt £4,400

With the win, Cascarino also picks up a seat in the GUKPT's £3,000 Grand Final and a seat in the tour's £75,000 Champion of Champions Tournament. The next stop on his own schedule, however, is a trip to the European Poker Tour event starting in Barcelona on Wednesday.

The Grosvenor U.K. Poker Tour will make its next stop at the G Casino in Thanet Oct. 16-19.

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