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New 'Brit Pack' Taking Over as UK Poker Elite
The 2011 WSOP Europe main event was down to 20 and John Duthie was smoking a cigarette outside the Majestic Barriere hotel in Cannes.
Duthie was still alive in the tournament and spent his break telling PokerListings.com about a group of young UK poker pros who are quickly climbing to the top of the poker world.
Duthie, who busted out of the main event shortly after in 18th, has been a core part of British poker for more than a decade and as the founder of the EPT and an accomplished poker player he’s in a unique position to comment on the new wave of British poker superstars.
“There are three or four of them down to the final 20 in this event,” Duthie told PokerListings.com.
He was referring to Chris Moorman who finished second, Jake Cody who finished seventh, Max Silver who busted in eighth and Andy Moseley who went out in 13th.
“They discuss hand situations endlessly and they’re constantly developing the game and forming their own sort of ‘Brit Pack’ technique that appears to be very effective,” Duthie continued.
“To them they’re living the dream right now with their fast sports cars, driving down to the south of France and having a great time.
“And these friendships have been forming alongside their poker games and they’ve become a very formidable force in tournaments,” said Duthie.
It’s a group whose members are now counted among the most successful players in the world.
Big Results Driving Increased Growth
The new generation of British poker elite is posting unprecedented results, and that success is attracting more players to the game than ever before.
While David Ulliott currently still sits atop England’s all-time money list, it’s taken him nearly 20 years to amass his $6 million in total earnings.
Sam Trickett has passed the $5 million mark and over $3.3 million of that was earned in the last ten months alone, not including the €1 million first-place prize he'll be contending at the Partouche Poker Tour main event delayed final table later this month.
“When I started playing a few years ago there were only a handful of really good UK players under 25, people like James Akenhead, JP Kelly, myself, Ben Vinson,” Trickett told PokerListings.com at the 2011 WSOPE in Cannes.
“I think because of the success that we’ve had, young people in England have really taken notice and realized that there is money to be made if you work hard at poker,” he added.
And there are certainly enough UK success stories to go around.
In 2009 James Akenhead made the final tables of both the WSOP and the WSOP Europe Main Events and JP Kelly won two WSOP bracelets. Praz Bansi finished third in the 2009 WSOP Europe main event and in 2010 won his second WSOP bracelet.
In less than two years Jake Cody won poker’s Triple Crown, notching victories on the WPT, EPT and WSOP. Those three wins were worth $2.49 million to the 23-year-old from Rochdale, England.
These are the new faces of the UK poker elite.
Group-Based Approach Key to UK Success
But while the success of players like Sam Trickett explains the growth of UK poker within the younger generation, it doesn’t explain why an unprecedented number of these players are excelling to truly elite levels.
Chris Moorman is one of the most spectacular examples of success among the UK new-school godfathers. He’s earned an astonishing $7.48 million playing online poker tournaments, and has cashed in live tournaments to the tune of $2.3 million in 2011 alone.
Moorman agrees that stories like his own help get people involved in the game, but he points to the group approach taken by UK players to explain why they’re getting so good.
“In the UK everyone seems to be really good friends with each other and when people learn, the knowledge kind of trickles down through the levels,” Moorman told PokerListings.com.
So while players like Moorman are not only helping build poker’s player base, they’re developing new strategy and passing it down the line to aspiring British poker players.
“Obviously poker is a very individual game when you’re at the table, even if you’re sitting next to your best mate, but UK players really support each other away from the table, even if they don’t have a percentage,” Moorman added.
Moorman hints at a system in which players are drawn to the game by seeing people like themselves winning big at the pro level, and go on to benefit from the knowledge passed down in the community from those whose success attracted them to poker in the first place.
And that goes not only for raw poker strategy and game development; it applies to traveling together, forming relationships and creating a real support network to help deal with the pitfalls of a career as a pro poker player.
“Everyone goes abroad and has a great time, even if they don’t win, they’re building friendships and having great experiences,” said Moorman.
The Forecast is Sunny, with a Chance of PLO
Poker’s new Brit Pack has a bright future and according to a few of its foremost members, that future will feature Pot-Limit Omaha.
And while PLO’s growing popularity is by no means confined to the UK, a few of the most successful Brits are picking up the variant and taking it places no one has before.
“JP Kelly, for example, has already become a great PLO player,” Sam Trickett told PokerListings.com. “I’d rank him in the top 20 PLO players in the world.”
Kelly has already notched cashes in PLO events at the World Series of Poker and with Omaha tournaments becoming more commonplace every day that list is only going to get bigger.
“I think we’re going to keep seeing No-Limit players moving over to PLO because in my opinion it’s the better game,” Trickett continued.
“Decisions are trickier and it’s a little less about reading the game and reading hands and more about understanding ranges and equity,” he said.
Chris Moorman is one of these elite No-Limit players who is dedicating more time to PLO. Already he’s seeing results with an 11th place finish in the $5,000 PLO event at the 2011 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
“The exciting thing about Omaha for No-Limit players is that it’s much less of a solved game,” said Chris Moorman in Cannes.
“Everyone’s getting so good in No-Limit that it’s tough to find too many weak spots in tournaments these days, whereas if you’re good you can still get a big edge in Omaha.”