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Kelly wins at WSOPE in cross-continental double
J.P. Kelly did something no other Englishman has done before Monday night - He won a World Series of Poker bracelet on British soil.
But the Aylesbury, UK native, who took down the 2009 World Series of Poker Europe's £1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event inside London's Casino at the Empire, did so much more.
After winning his first WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event this summer, Kelly became just the second player to win WSOP bracelets on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year.
Jesper Hougaard was the first to do it in 2008.
"It feels brilliant; it feels awesome," Kelly said just moments after winning the £136,803 first-place prize.
"The first one was a bit sweeter because of the achievement. This one I just wanted to prove I was good enough to take down one of these events and I was lucky enough to do it."
Although he went into Day 2 of the 608 player event with the chip lead, the nine-man final was an uphill battle for Kelly, with French cash-game pro Fabien Dunlop holding a massive chip lead from the start.
Kelly said his plan was to be patient and he followed it perfectly.
"I had to play tight early on because of Fabien with the big chip lead, but I knew if I got heads up with him I am a better heads up player, so I figured I could take him on there," he said.
"It's not normally my style to wait it out, but sometimes you have to do that."
By far the most experienced player at the table, Kelly simply sat back as Dane Thor Drexel, French Winamax pro Anthony Roux, the relatively unknown Adnan Alshamah from Syria, fellow Englishmen William Martin, Neil Suarez and Richard Allen all gambled away their stacks.
He entered heads-up with Dunlop facing a 2:1 chip deficit but doubled up early, held on through at least one bad beat and emerged triumphant.
"There were a lot of people who hadn't made a big final before, so I thought they might be a bit eager to go all in," he explained. "I could see some of the faces; once they lost a couple of pots they were counting their chips and looking to move all in. So I opted to just sit back and try to get heads up with Fabien and then take it down from there. That was my plan."
Dunlop played the role of big stack aggressor perfectly throughout, but Kelly said the experience of his WSOP bracelet win this summer helped him remain patient.
"I think the experience helped a lot," he said. "On another day I would have kept looking at bad hands or an aggressive player on my left and I might have tried to outplay him or just try and give him my chips. But no, I knew I had to sit back and that was the way to play it."
Dunlop, who said he might not sleep the night before the final because of nerves, was disappointed with his performance.
"The thing is I was very tired and couldn't play my best game," he said. "I did OK as long as we were nine-handed down to four-handed. I made a few bad moves I wouldn't have made if I was in better shape. I'm just very disappointed I couldn't play my best game."
With two World Series of Poker bracelets under his belt now, Kelly said he will play the WSOPE main event in London next week and has designs on a few more pieces of WSOP gold.
"It's such a huge buzz when you get to the last two or three tables," he said "You're eying up the bracelet and thinking of the final. I look forward to playing more tournaments and seeing what else I can do.
"I think I'll try and get as many (bracelets) as possible. I have two now, why not go for three. I don't want to stop at two."