Former professional footballer Tony Cascarino has won the Grand Final of the 2009 Grosvenor UK Poker Tour.
The ex Republic of Ireland international scored a £168,800 payday by outclassing a field of 183 players in the Blue Square Poker sponsored GUKPT’s showpiece event at the Grosvenor Victoria casino in London. The tournament included some of the best poker players from the UK and Europe, who all paid £3,000 to enter the four day tournament. This was the second time that Cascarino has tasted victory on the UK’s largest poker tour. His first victory came just over a year ago when he won the Bolton leg of the 2008 tour. It was his third GUKPT main event final table, having also finished in 6th place in last year’s Grand Final. His win takes him to the top of the all-time GUKPT money list, with almost £250,000 in winnings.
His heads up opponent was Frenchman Antoine Arnault, a keen amateur from Paris who is the Head of Communications for avant-garde fashion house Louis Vuitton. Both players went into the final with the lowest chip counts of the final nine, but remarkably ended up as the last men standing. After Arnault eliminated Philip Patrick in 3rd place the two players went head-to-head for the title with Cascarino enjoying a chip lead of 2.1m to 1.4m. It was an intriguing conclusion to the tournament, which saw the Frenchman fight back and reverse the chip count. However the former Chelsea and Celtic striker drew level and then recaptured the lead with a commanding 3m to 0.6m chip lead. He was then one card away from victory when holding A-2 versus Q-T, but just when they thought it was all over, his opponent spiked a fourth spade on the river to make a flush. Arnault continued to fight back and was almost level once again when the final hand took place. Again Cascarino held A-2 (both hearts) in a pot that saw almost a third of the chips find their way into the middle preflop. Arnault moved all in on a T-J-8 (one heart) flop and Cascarino called. Arnault held T-9 of hearts for one pair and a straight draw. The turn card was the jack of hearts and the five of hearts on the river gave Cascarino the nut flush and with that he took down the title.
During post-match analysis Cascarino commented on his win.
“I’ve been moaning all year, ‘cos nothing good has really happened to me. I’ve won something (in poker) every year for the last four years, but until now 2009 has been frustrating.”
Making reference to the break down of his marriage he went on to say
“I got divorced earlier in the year and I’m delighted that she won’t be getting her hands on any of this. She’s already had enough out of me.”
On a more upbeat note he then philosophised on his poker playing abilities
“Getting respect from your peers and being acknowledged for being good at whatever you do with your life means a lot to me…I think I have proved myself now.”
His opponent Antoine Arnault was gracious in defeat and will be heading back to France with £107,100 for his second place finish. Small change it may seem, as his father Bernard Arnault is the 14th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $16.5 billion.
The final table also included World Heads Up Champion Bambos Xanthos from Cyprus, who is one of London’s most successful high stakes cash game players. He finished in 6th place while another high stakes cash game player Albert Iversen from Denmark exited in 5th. 21-year old online tournament pro Daniel Millar was 4th. Italian Romano Pizzo, went into the final table as the runaway chip leader but played wildly, getting involved in almost every pot during the first hour of play. He dusted off most of his stack, then regained much of it before being eliminated in 7th place when running A-K into Cascarino’s pocket aces. Manchester bookie Mike Hill was the eighth place finisher while Stuart Rutter, who finished 5th in last year’s Grand Final completed the final table line, departing in 9th place.
1st - Tony Cascarino - £168,800
2nd - Antoine Arnault - £107,100
3rd - Philip Patrick - £71,400
4th - Daniel Millar - £43,900
5th - Albert Iversen - £32,900
6th - Charalambos (Bambos) Xanthos - £27,400
7th - Romano Pizzo - £22,000
8th - Mike Hill - £16,500
9th - Stuart Rutter - £11,000
Tour Draws to a Close
The 2009 GUKPT is now drawing to a close with just the Champion of Champions festival still to take place. It starts straight away on Monday 30th November at the G Casino in Luton, with a week of warm up events before the £100,000 Champion of Champions tournament takes place. This prestigious event is an invite only tournament and the only way to get an invite is to win a GUKPT tournament. The five warm up events that take place in Luton this week represent the last chance to qualify for it.
The race to win the £20,000 first prize for topping the GUKPT rankings also looks set to go to the wire as Richard Gryko holds a slender half a point lead over Martin Silke. They are over 100 points clear of their nearest rivals in the race to be crowned the GUKPT Player of the Year. Ranking points are earned by making the final tables in all GUKPT tournaments. Both players are expected to participate in all of the warm up events this week.