While this is the first PokerStars Festival to be held in London there’s a rich history of High Roller action in the nation’s capital. Every year since 2011 the UKIPT pitched up in London – sometimes as part of an EPT festival – and those half-dozen events have proved, well, eventful. From a Team Pro victory to a last gasp game of leader board-leap-frog, it’s been quite a journey for the London High Roller.
The first four UKIPT High Roller incarnations were all part of EPT London festivals and, to many of the participants, simply an EPT £2K side event. The last two, both held here at The Hippodrome Casino, were, like today’s event, both part of a stand-alone festival.
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This year’s version has already out done the previous two editions with the 143 players already registered surpassing 2016’s 114 entrants and the 49 who played in 2015 (the buy-in was higher that year, though). With late-registration open, until approximately 7.15pm local time that gap will only widen.
Perhaps the most memorable London High Roller took place in 2012 and, with apologies to Mark Daubach, who won the event, it’s not him that we remember. Tom Hall was relatively unknown back then and he was chasing UKIPT leader board glory. He was trailing his good friend Neil Raine as the festival began but a deep run in the UKIPT Main Event looked like changing the destiny of the title. However, when it ended in 33rd place it wasn’t enough. Hall had mere minutes to register for the High Roller, the last event that counted towards the leader board, but it was still a long shot. Hall needed eighth or better to overhaul Raine and manage it he did. A sixth place finish earned him what was his biggest live cash at the time and entry to all UKIPT events the following season. While for Raine it was a bad beat story that people actually wanted to hear.
Nine months later the tour had relocated to the Connaught Rooms and as Robbie Bull was busy winning the Main Event, a stacked final table of the High Roller was playing out a few feet away. Among the final eight were Thomas Muehloecker, Joe Kuether, Salvatore Bonavena and Kenny Hallaert. One by one they fell until it was Max Silver up against Vanessa Selbst for the title.
The funny thing was the two of them were meant to have gone to the theatre together to watch a play, but their extended stay in the tournament meant neither made it. Heads-up didn’t last long. Silver got it in with tens against sixes but Selbst spiked a six to survive and she went on to win. That was one of three side event victories for Selbst on the EPT, whilst a win for Silver would’ve earned him his second UKIPT High Roller title.
Since Selbst sealed the deal, Olivier Busquet, Owain Carey and Linus Loeliger have added their names to the pantheon of High Roller winners in London. With the likes of Jake Cody, Felipe Ramos, Luca Pagano, Aditya Agarwal, Niall Farrell and Adrian Mateos in the field, it’s a sound bet that the name that gets added to that list tomorrow will be a fine addition to the tradition.
The London High Rollers in numbers:
|UKIPT2/EPT 8 London||189||£2000+£200||£366,660||Patrik Ghatge||Joni Nenonen|
|UKIPT3/EPT9 London||219||£2000+£200||£422,920||Marc Daubach||Byron Kaverman|
|UKIPT4/EPT10 London||176||£2000+£200||£341,440||Vanessa Selbst||Max Silver|
|UKIPT4/EPT11 London||276||£2000+£200||£535,440||Olivier Busquet||Henrik Hecklen|
|UKIPT5 London||49||£3000+£300||£142,590||Owain Carey||Victor Ilyukhin|
|UKIPT6 London||114||£2000+200||£221,160||Linus Loeliger||Luis Rodriguez Cruz|