What kind of luck would GUKPT Leeds bring me this year?

When Grosvenor bought the majority of Gala Casinos a year or two back, most poker players probably didn’t bat an eyelid. But for the GUKPT, it’s opened up a whole new range of cities to visit for the UK’s oldest and best tour.

Previously, some cities didn’t have a Grosvenor Casino, and if they did they were too small to hold such a big event as a GUKPT. However, the purchase of the Gala estate means more cities have the capacity to host a GUKPT, and last week’s visit to Leeds, the first ever GUKPT in the city, shows the opportunities that have been presented.

Held in the old Gala and newly refurbished as a Grosvenor, GUKPT Leeds proved a huge hit, and brought a great vibe to the tour

So many major cities are within a two hour trip to Leeds that we had large groups from the North East, North West, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London.

For me personally, Leeds holds something a little extra for me. Leeds Uni was my alma mater, not to mention my extra year at journalism college in Leeds, plus a further year living in the City Centre while working as a young journalist for the Press Association. Yes, it was one of the trips I most wanted to make, and of course, the icing on the cake would be to become the first ever GUKPT Leeds champion.

With less than 70 runners on Thursday, an overlay had looked possible, with Grosvenor’s £100k guarantee on all £500 legs looking in danger of needing topping up. Thankfully, the great support on the Friday from the poker community saw the guarantee easily surpassed, and the 228 players battling it out for a £32,500 first prize.


I’d chosen to travel up on the Thursday and give the £75 PLO competition a spin

I went out of that in super quick fashion though, running the second nuts into the nuts and having the floor called on me twice in the hand for good measure!

At 25/50 it had been raised to 150 and a total of seven of us saw a flop, with me holding 4556 in position.

The flop fell Q54 with two hearts and the small blind let out 700 into the 1050 pot. The big blind called, the original raiser called, and I paused for thought in the cut-off. As I did so, the button threw in two 500 chips to call.

The dealer pointed out the action was on me and the button apologised

Now I knew that call would have to stay in, as well as the three other 700s, plus the pot that was already there, and I was only losing to one hand. It wasn’t that easy for anyone to have three queens either, so while I’d normally take a card and hope to see a safe turn, it seemed a good idea to get my 6,500 in here and now.

I raised to 4,000, and the dealer said raise to 3,200. I knew he’d miscounted the pot, so told him 4k was fine. He then threw the two 500 chips back to the button and said these don’t count as they weren’t in the pot when I raised. I said I knew that, it didn’t matter as the pot was big enough, and also he doesn’t get his chips back under GUKPT rules, he either leaves the call in and folds or can call my raise.

The dealer said he didn’t know the rules, so I suggested he check with the floor if that was the case, which is probably sound advice every time you don’t know the rules.

The floor came over and confirmed what I’d said, and the button rather grumpily folded

The dealer then checked if he lost 1,000, as he’d put in two 500s, rather than 700, but of course he got 300 change. Imagine the carnage if he’d throw  in a 5k chip to call if that were the case!

The action was back on the small blind, the guy who’d donk bet into the field. As he thought, another guy not in the hand piped up in my direction:

“You’re hiding your cards, no wonder he acted out of turn,” gesturing at the guy on the button. I hold my cards in the same way in every hand of every game I’ve ever played and have never been warned or even accused of hiding my cards before. There’s a good reason for this.

“I’m not hiding my cards, they’re clearly visible,” I replied, still sat there with the majority of my chips in the middle and basically all in.

“We can’t see them down this end, I’m gonna ask the floor,” said my new friend.

“Get the floor now,” said the button, “I might get me chips back!”


So with the action still on the small blind, and with me basically all in, the floor was called again

I didn’t move throughout, or even say anything. The ‘problem’ was explained to the floor. The floor said ‘But you can clearly see his cards in his hand, and if not feel free to ask if the action’s on you’….so back to the hand we went.

The small blind dwelled a big longer, then eventually moved all-in. Another guy called all in and of course I called my shrapnel off.

The small blind had eventually got them in with the nuts, and his hand held against the nut flush draw and my one outer!

Having not really enjoyed the first bullet, I re-entered and found a new table.

Everything went pretty well until I found good aces on the button. A guy in early position raised, the cut-off called and I potted, getting 40% of my stack in pre-flop. The early position player called before the other guy moved all in for not much more than my bet. We both called.

I bet the ten high flop, the early position guy folded, and the short stacked TT87 had found the flop he was looking for to treble through.

As I was buying in I’d persuaded Adam Wilkinson to give the PLO boys a spin, so it was no surprise to see him knock me out, calling my raise with a bag of spanners and getting the lot in with just the nut flush draw.

My aces (again) were in great shape, he didn’t even have a pair, but he turned a jack and revered a three to make jacks and threes and I was able to have an early night.

Day 1b of the Main Event was buzzing, loads of players, loads of names, EPT winners, bracelet winners, WPT winners, the lot

Devilfish was regaling a new audience with his old stories on the table behind me, and I was on a table with a number of mates, Tom Middleton to my right and Dan O’Callaghan and Dom Mahoney to my left.

Unfortunately, in level three, Dom was the one to get me.

An early position raiser made it 350, two people called and I looked down at AK on the button. Mindful that I didn’t want to make a huge pot particularly at this stage, I called and the action folded to Dom in the big blind.

He raised it to 1550 and the raiser quickly called. He’d already built quite a stack and had had his chips in the middle a few times despite it being the early stages.

In fact he could already have knocked me out

He called a raise in level two and, mainly because I wanted to get into pots with this guy, I defended Q5 of clubs in the big blind. I thought I loved the QT5 rainbow flop, but when I checked and the original raiser cbet and the lively player called, by check raise was called by the raiser before Mr Lively just said “I’m all in!”. I eventually found a pass, the raiser called it off with AQ and the lively guy had three tens to take it down.

Anyway, he called, as he’d done a lot, and the other guy in the pot tanked for 30 seconds before folding. He told us afterwards he had KQ, which was crucial in this pot, but I was thinking to myself, “if he calls I have to make this 5500 and call the rest off, there’s too much dead money in there now”.

As he folded, I stuck to plan A and took a flop in position.

KKT looked pretty good to me, and I called Dom’s cbet after the big stack folded. A turned queen looked okay to me, so when Dom led again for 3500, I happily moved all in. I soon got the bad news that Dom had turned the one outer, and had queens full.

I needed an ace or a ten. I couldn’t find either, and out I went

My re-entry saw me seated beside my Grosvenor teammate Joe Beevers, and it was a real pleasure to play with him, although we quickly realised between us we had a really tough table full of good aggro players.

I found it pretty tough to build a stack here, but dug in and managed to find my way through to day two with 25,000 chips.

Having started with 20k, it didn’t feel like I’d made much progress, but I think 25bb for day two is plenty, which got me asking the question, “If you could make day two with 25bb in every tournament would you take that rather than risk being knocked out early sometimes, though giving up the chance to run up a stack?”. I’m not sure I know the answer to be honest.

Day two proved short and not very sweet, though not before the poker gods had poked fun at me a couple of times.

First we had a hand which Dom won from his big blind where I’d just called a raise pre-flop.

What was the flop? Of course, KKT again

With less than 20bb left a young guy who had already 3b me once did it again on the button. I 4b jammed AQ and he snapped me with the aces. Nice hand zzzzz….apart from the board run out for lols, coming AQxxQ. Lovely.


I headed to the bar, but decided I’d try the £150 side event on Saturday evening later.

I was chip leader in that with 11 left. I came 10th. First a guy opened on our five handed table, the small blind shoved 27bb, I reshoved QQ from the big blind, the raiser passed and the small blind had, yep, aces. Played them well, as I didn’t put him on them. He’d had practice mind, having had aces against queens about 10 minutes earlier too!

With 10bb left, it was passed to me in the small blind and I shoved T3 of spades. The big blind stacked his chips up and slid them forward, but stopped short of the line. I hoped he’d changed his mind, as I didn’t fancy a call much, but of course he hadn’t.

As if it wasn’t obvious, what he was doing was getting a rubber duck out of his pocket, pretending it said something in his ear, then he gave it a kiss and put it on his stack, then he slid them in!

I showed me T3, he flipped AK of hearts and once he’d made the nuts on the turn he told everyone he was only 60/40 and could easily lose!

I decided it was safest for me to hit the commentary box with the Tower, so did the whole final table with the legend himself, and what a final table it was.

Harry Law, a high stakes cash game player from London, got all the chips, then lost them, then got them all again!

Tower was rooting for Ben Turnstill, who was wearing the Megatron Detroit Lions American football shirt. I told him that was the shirt Ryan Reiss wore when he won the WSOP Main Event last year, so we tweeted Ryan and said someone at the GUKPT Leeds final is trying to win a title the same way you did using the Megatron shirt.

The World Champ only tweeted us back!

Loving Ryan Reiss taking time out to tweet about GUKPT Leeds. Now all we need to do is persuade him to make the trip to the next leg, Luton in October, and he’ll be a proper legend!









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