"A Fantastic Event" Report on the CelebPoker Palm Beach Classic Tournament, July 30/31, 2005

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What a smashing success CelebPoker's Palm Beach Classic turned out to be! Applications from celebrities, professionals and just plain players poured in, and by the start-time it was over-subscribed. In the end, 125 of the 140 who wanted to play were squeezed into the plush Mayfair casino, with priority given to the 25 online qualifiers.

It was a thrill to win

What a smashing success CelebPoker's Palm Beach Classic turned out to be! Applications from celebrities, professionals and just plain players poured in, and by the start-time it was over-subscribed. In the end, 125 of the 140 who wanted to play were squeezed into the plush Mayfair casino, with priority given to the 25 online qualifiers.

The Palm Beach Casino was bursting at the seams with poker players as The CelebPoker Classic took off on Saturday July 30 2005. The restaurant had been turned into the most glamorous card room in England for the occasion, and there were famous faces everywhere.

Autograph-hunters were able to track down actors Michael Greco and star of the upcoming Guy Ritchie film Revolver Terrence Maynard, golfer Sam Torrance, and snooker-players Jimmy White, Mark Williams and Ken Doherty.

Pro players included WSOP gold bracelet holders Willie Tan and Brian Wilson. David Colclough and Jack Orama were also in attendance.

Play began at 4.00 p.m. and, by 3 a.m. we had the final nine ready to do battle on day 2.

None of the headliners managed to survive that first day, and the final table of eight tired men and one tired woman (Joanne "JJ" Liu, winner of this year's World Poker Challenge, who had flown in from playing in Paris that afternoon) staggered out into the Mayfair dawn, to catch some sleep before resuming.

The Final Table

The nuclear nine consisted, in seat order, of Steve Benson of London, "Bambos" Xathos from Cyprus, Jeff Buffenberger of London, David Penley from ?????, Alan Smurfit from Dublin, "JJ." Liu from California, Stephen Walmsley from Blackpool, Matthew Arnott from Woking and Dave Clark from Essex.

The game hadn't been going for half-an-hour when chip-scarce Walmsley was forced out, followed a couple of hours later by David Penley, who must have thought he had a good chance with 6-6 and a flop of 3-4-6.

But the river card was a 7, and his opponent, Steve Benson, was nursing 7-7 for trips. Still, £3,100 went a long way to assuage his disappointment.

Next to go was the only lady in the pack, JJ, who had been living dangerously with a series of all-ins, and crashed with A3 against Steve's AQ. She collected £4,100.

Jeff went next (with £5,200) when his Ace-10 died against a Bambos full house, leaving five players, with online qualifier Matt as chip leader. But he had a series of disasters, and, with the blinds climbing to 20,000-10,000; there was a double all-in clash between him (desperate with K9) and Bambos (with a better AJ). With no help from the board, the 64% favourite held up and Matt took his £7,200 compensation with good grace.

So, at 8.40 p.m., there were four players left: Steve a comfortable chip-leader with 323,000, followed by Dave with 210,000, Alan with 121,000 and Bambos in trouble with 51,000.

But, to everyone's surprise, it was Steve who took the tumble, after Alan outrageously called him all-in with 6-5 off suit. Steve's Ace-Queen made him a 65% favourite, but a flop of 7-9-8 gave Alan a straight and doubled him up. On tilt, Steve went all-in the next hand with his remaining chips - Jack-ten of hearts against Dave's Ace-Jack of spades. No help from the board, and Steve exited in fourth place, with £10,300.

Bambos went next, after risking everything with King-7 of hearts, only to find himself facing David's Ace-Jack of diamonds. The ex-hotelier, now a London pro, settled for third place and £14,000.

David Clark, 45, from Little Maplestead, near Halsted, Essex, now looked in good shape, with 931,000 chips against Alan's 294,000. Dave runs roofing and scaffolding company, but manages to play poker three or four times a week. He attempted to qualify for the Palm Beach Classic in satellites, but when he didn't manage to win a place, bought in for £1000.

But Dublin's Alan Smurfit, who won the £1,000 Pot Limit Omaha in The Poker Classics at the Vic in March and travels the poker circuit in style after selling his packaging company for €3.9-billion, fought back tenaciously, nicking Dave's blinds with rubbish. When the board showed K-Q-10-9, he went all-in. To see whether he had the Jack or not we must wait for the television showing of the final table. After what seemed hours of agonising thought, Dave reckoned he had, and folded the hand.

There followed another hour of roller coaster rides, and then Dave’s pair of sevens runs into Alan's K-K, and it's all over bar the coup de grace. This came the next hand, when Alan's pocket Queens became a set.

Smurfit's first prize was £51,700, Clark's second prize was £25,800.

"It was a thrill to win," Alan Smurfit said afterwards. "Not so much for the money, but for the excitement of winning! It was a great tournament: CelebPoker and the Palm Beach put on a marvelous event."

Next CelebPoker.com event is:

The Stanley Star City Casino CelebPoker Grand Prix. £100,000 Guaranteed First Place Prize. September 7th 8th. Qualify online now at http://www.celebpoker.com

For more information please contact Pat Keane at Pat@celebpoker.com

http://www.celebpoker.com

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