33-year-old Marty Smyth of Ulster in Ireland scooped $250 000 this week after winning the PartyPoker.com World Open IV in London, truimphing over 72 other entrants in the $8 000 buy-in event that generated a total prize pool of $576 000. The final table line-up was impressive to say the least, and included Neil Channing, recent Manchester GUKPT winner Marc “Mr Cool” Goodwin, Andy “The Spider” Ward, Dixie Dean and Ryan Fronda.
“I’m delighted and very proud,” said Smyth, who won the 2007 Irish Open and has made the final table in the Poker Million the last two years. “With the way Neil (Channing) is running at the moment he was the last person I wanted to take on heads-up. I hope this sparks a run for me as good as his! I’m so happy to win the trophy and the money will come in handy for Vegas.”
Smyth's heads-up opponent was Neil Channing, who has been on fire in recent months, taking Marty’s Irish Open title in January and leading Great Britain to victory in the PartyPoker.com Poker Nations Cup as well as other impressive results. He also looked the most likely winner to everybody. As well as playing some majestic poker, the man they used to call ‘Bad Beat’ was getting cards when he needed them.
“I thought it was my day,” said Channing. “I believed during the final table that if I didn’t win this I would be disappointed and I am. That said, it would have been a bit ridiculous if I managed to take down this title as well!”
Channing went into the heads-up with Smyth leading 995 000 to 405 000. Many thought the writing was on the wall but Smyth clawed his way back and in an epic heads-up that lasted as long as the rest of the heat before it, the Ulsterman drew level making it an even match at 700 000.
Many started to fancy Smyth but were convinced that perhaps it was too much to overcome the “goldenballs” of the European poker circuit. However, the Irishman wore Channing down and eventually all the money went in the middle. Channing flat called in the small blind with 9h 9c, Smyth came over the top with Qc Qs. Channing pushed all-in and Smyth called. The board 10s 5d 2d Kh Kd brought no help and the PartyPoker.com World Open IV had itself a very popular winner.
Channing earned a useful $100 000 for his second placing.
A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: “It would be fair to say that Marty was an extremely popular winner. He’s done European poker a favour by derailing the Channing bandwagon, but make no mistake he is one of the finest players on the circuit at the moment.”
Eddie Hearn, Director of Matchroom Sport said: “This was without doubt the strongest field we have seen at the PartyPoker.com World Open and the players certainly didn't disappoint. The standard of play was simply stunning throughout and Marty was a deserved winner. The PartyPoker.com World Open is now firmly established as one of poker’s major titles.”
The event featured a top class field led by ‘Ambassador of Poker’ Mike Sexton and included Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliott, Juha Helppi, Theo Jorgensen, Ian Frazer, Roberto Romanello, Jon Kalmar, Thomas Bihl, Surinder Sunar, John Tabatabai, Christoph Haller, Jan Peter Jachtmann and Liam Flood. Coverage of the Matchroom Sport organised event will be broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK later this year and will be fronted by Jesse May. Last year, 45-year-old former Sidcup betting shop owner Anthony Hardy triumphed over a final table that also featured Ian Cox, Ram Vaswani, David Rudling, Ian Frazer and eventual runner-up Ian Woodley. The winner in 2006 was Pippa Flanders, while in 2005 Lee Nelson won the inaugural event.
The winner of each of the 12 heats progressed to the semi-final stage, and, for the first time in the event's history all was not lost for the runners-up on the table as they battled it out for the remaining two semi-final spots in “last chance” turbo heats. The two unlucky players who missed out on the bubble for the final table were Simon Craig and Andy Greekfish.
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