has declared Great Britain the winner in its 2008 Poker Nations Cup. Team Great Britain, captained by Roland de Wolfe and comprising Neil Channing, Surinder Sunar, Joe Beevers, Ian Frazer and VIP online qualifier Charlie Durbin overcame Team Ireland in the heads-up to take the GBP 100 000 main prize money and the title.
The Irish team had to be content with a second placing prize of $30 000.
The team event also featured world class line-ups from the USA, Germany, Holland and Sweden and it was Neil Channing who eventually brought the cup home for Britain. All six teams competed in a “tag” final where each team captain’s judgement was vital, as it was up to them to make tactical substitutions and strategic “time outs.”
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said team captain de Wolfe. “In many ways it is even better to win a team event for your country than win an individual title. I am so proud that the selections for my team were vindicated.
“We knew that it would be tight early on so I played Surinder. We fancied that he could exploit his tight image and he had played so well in his heat that it simply had to be him. Next we put on Joe Beevers. At that point we needed to sure things up as we were near the chip lead. This was a choice I made based on the situation. If we had been leading I would have put in Ian Frazer to get at them but Joe did a good job. I played third and always fancied this period of the tournament. I had a good run against Holland’s Thierry Van Den Berg and knew that blind stealing would be key at this stage before the blinds got too big. Neil had to play last as he had the form and confidence. Even though neither Ian Frazer nor Charlie Durbin were involved at this stage, both were key to our success. Both played excellently in the heats and the decisions were hard but we were only allowed to play four players in the final.”
Channing anchored Great Britain to victory in a tense heads-up with Ireland’s Donnacha O’Dea. After a number of swings, the key turning point was when Channing went all-in with 8 4 off suit, only to get called by O’Dea’s 2 2. The Irish Open champion was behind on the flop and the turn only for a 4 to hit on the river and cripple the Irish. Very soon O’Dea was all-in with 10c 3c, only to be called by Channing’s 10h 9h. The 10 on the turn was enough to win Great Britain the cup they had previously won in 2006.
Channing was originally pencilled in as a television reporter for the event coverage but after his Irish Open win was asked by captain de Wolfe to take his place in the line-up. “I am just as proud of this as I am of my win in Ireland,” said Channing. “It was an honour to be picked to represent my country and great to be chosen to play the crucial final leg for the team.”
After six heats Britain arrived at the final table joint second in chips with Holland, just behind leaders Germany. The action started fast and it was all Holland as online qualifier Quirijn Van der Peet dramatically took down a massive pot against Germany’s Benjamin Kang to turn the tournament on its head. This triggered a number of substitutions, particularly for Ireland, who used their full quota of replacements in a short period of time. After starting with Marty Smyth, followed by Liam Flood, captain Padraig Parkinson put himself on for one hand only to substitute himself straight away as his view was that he had to play Donnacha O’Dea for as much of the final table as possible. It was a tactic that very nearly paid off and there was no doubt that Ireland were the team with the most support throughout.
Team USA started as the short stack and departed first. USA captain Robert Williamson III had understandably put in Chris Ferguson to start and try and make the best of a bad situation after a terrible week. After all, the blinds were small and there was plenty of play on the table. Ferguson’s 9 9, however, ran into O’Dea’s A K and an A on the river sent ‘Jesus’ to the rail. Jamie Gold was outside preparing himself to play but that was the last the tournament saw of a strong side that also included Chad Brown, Montel Williams and Thomas Keller.
Next out was defending champions Sweden who had started the session with Mats Rahmn and made serious in-roads thanks to Johan Storakers and, particularly, William Thorson. 2006 Poker Nations Cup hero Anders Henriksson’s A 5 got busted by O’Dea’s 10 10. The flop went 4 J J and nothing on the turn or river meant that Bo Sehlstedt’s side were down to 1,000 chips. Dutch captain Marcel Luske was left to finish them off. At this point the noise of the Irish supporters was growing. Parkinson’s decision to play O’Dea as much as possible looked to be paying dividends after a disappointing set of results in the heats and many thought the Emerald Isle were going to pull off an unlikely victory.
With all this happening Germany appeared to be making a fantastic comeback. After starting with Benjamin Kang, captain Michael Keiner played Andreas Krause, Sebastian Ruthenberg and then Thomas Bihl and it was “Buzzer” Bihl who doubled-up through Neil Channing to get them right back in contention. Bihl’s J J held up against Channing’s K 8. However, it was Germany who fell next. The blinds were going up and Channing continued to bully the table. Channing pushed with 9h 7h only to get called by Bihl’s 5 5 but a 9 on the flop gave Great Britain the massive pot, crippling Germany and leaving Marcel Luske to finish them off next hand.
Next to go was Holland, who had been up and down throughout the final table. Luske’s 10 s 9 s was busted by O’Dea’s A K off suit after two kings hit the board. Marcel had started with impressive online qualifier Quirijn Van der Peet and played Daan Ruitter, Thierry Van Den Berg and himself. Seen as outsiders by before a card was dealt in the tournament, Dutch captain Marcel Luske was pleased with his team’s performance.
This left O’Dea and Channing heads-up, only for the Irish Open champion to eventually conquer the Irish poker legend. Ireland captain Padraig Parkinson was philosophical about the defeat: “We were the oldest team in the tournament. It’s quite obvious that poker is a young man’s game,” he joked.
A spokesman said the tournament was "an amazing experience" for the five VIP online qualifiers. "A week alongside the world’s best pros in a unique team atmosphere is intimidating but ultimately exciting and unforgettable,” he said.
The team event featured line-ups from Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Holland and the United States. The winning team scooped $100 000 in this unique tournament that saw players pursuing personal and team glory, along with the honour of representing their home nation. The tournament saw one VIP qualifier on each team playing alongside five world class poker professionals from the same participating nations, except the USA who featured celebrity player Montel Willams. Each player paid a buy-in of $5 000 making a total prize pool of $280 000 with the addition of $100,000 by
Over six heats, each player competed once to score points for their team with individual match winners scooping $20 000 for themselves for their efforts. The size of the team chip stacks for the tag final depended on the points gained by the players in the six heats. The triumphant nation was the last with a player standing.
The first heat was won by Great Britain, represented by Neil Channing, who kept up his great form to overcome Sweden’s Johan Storakers heads-up. Heat two saw a surprise as Dutch online qualifier Quirjin van der Peet took it down after an epic heads-up with Great Britain’s Ian Frazer. The heat featured Jamie Gold, who finished third, the highest finishing position of any Team USA player at the event.  Day one finished with 2006 winners Great Britain in the ascendancy. Day two opened with two captains at the table, Bo Sehlstedt for Sweden and Michael Keiner for Germany but it was Holland’s Daan Ruitter who triumphed, with Irish online qualifier Darren O’Brien roared on by his team mates into second place. The next heat saw another maximum for Great Britain as Surinder Sunar was victorious with Sweden’s Mats Rahmn the runner-up. The heat featured the USA’s Chris Ferguson who busted first, adding to what was turning into a miserable run for Team USA. At the end of day two Holland and Great Britain were pulling away from the field in the points table.
Day three saw the balance of power swing dramatically as pre-tournament favourites Germany took down both heats. Andreas Krause won the first heat, defeating Sweden’s Anders Henriksson heads-up. The final heat was won by Germany’s Benjamin Kang who saw off Ireland’s Ciaran O’Leary in a heat that also featured Marcel Luske, William Thorson, Robert Williamson III and Roland de Wolfe. This marvellous last day gave Germany the chip lead going into the tag team final.
The commentary team for the event coverage was fronted by Vicky Coren and featured Joe Beevers, Jamie Gold, Padraig Parkinson, Ciaran O’Leary, Robert Williamson III, Roland de Wolfe and Simon Trumper.
 Team members were:
Roland de Wolfe    Capt.
Joe Beevers
Ian Frazer
Surinder Sunar
Neil Channing
Charlie Durbin – qualifier
Michael Keiner    Capt.
Andreas Krause
Benjamin Kang
Sebastian Ruthenberg
Thomas Bihl
Thomas Potzel – qualifier
Marcel Luske    Capt.
Thierry Van den Berg
Hans Ritburg
Eric Van der Berg
Daan Ruitter
Quirijn Van der Peet – qualifier
Padraig Parkinson   Capt.
Donnacha O’Dea
Ciaran O’Leary
Liam Flood
Marty Smyth
Darren O’Brien – qualifier
Bo Sehlstedt    Capt.
Anders Henriksson
Mats Rahmn
Johan Storakers
William Thorson
Johan Ocklind – qualifier
Robert Williamson III    Capt.
Jamie Gold
Chris Ferguson
Thomas Keller
Chad Brown
Montel Williams – Celebrity Player