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POKER STORY

Risk/reward

As the UK and Ireland Poker Tour journeyed north of the border last month, it was Canada dangerman Nick Abou Risk who blew the roof Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange

In poker, just as in any other sport, there are some players who simply seem to thrive off pressure – and at the UKIPT’s latest stop in Edinburgh, one man who certainly seemed to fit that bill was online qualifier Nick Abou Risk.

Starting the first day of the £500 main event out of position against EPT San Remo champion Liv Boeree and ‘voice of poker’ Jesse May, the Canadian didn’t look to have found the most stable of foundations on which to base a title-winning tilt, but from great adversity came great triumph as Risk started running the show.

With his relentless aggression paying off when he caused Liv Boeree to four-bet Kc Jc into his aces, Risk was quickly able to accumulate chips and even applied enough pressure to one player to cause them to dump kings face-up. Whether it was a good fold was never revealed, but by hook or by crook Risk ended the day as chip leader.

“I had a good feeling on that first day where I was talking through a lot of hands with Liv Boeree,” revealed Risk after the chips had been bagged and sealed. “Realising that she had some respect for my game gave me a lot of confidence and I started stealing a lot more blinds.”

Clearly, this confidence would serve to propel the Canadian through the later levels as he bluffed and barrelled his way through the 401-strong field, eventually ending Day 2 as one of only three players to have breached the 2 million chip mark along with UKIPT Manchester winner Joeri Zandvliet and up-and-comer Luke Marsh.

All three of that power trio would make it into the final four of the competition, where they were joined by the slightly tighter stylings of Lithuania’s Mantas Puidokas. In truth, the European’s conservative approach may have been a little too exploitable, and though he did hold the chip lead at one point, he was made to pay for his gun-shy approach during heads-up play after Marsh’s elimination in third place.

Perhaps motivated by a hand in which Puidokas folded pocket queens pre-flop while play was four-handed, Risk attacked his foe relentlessly during the pair’s one-on-one encounter, winning nine hands on the bounce to really seize the initiative. As such, he held a sizeable chip lead when he four-bet all-in with Jc 6s, but even so Risk had to play catch-up when the frustrated Lithuanian made the crying call with Kh 9h.

Fortunately Risk’s gamble was rewarded when the flop came 6c Jd 9c, and though his opponent held middle pair, a further 6d on the turn gave him a full house and no miracle nine on the river arrived to save the praying Mantas from elimination. With that hand, the PokerStars qualifier bagged himself a cool £50,000 and a seat in this season’s UKIPT Grand Final, aka EPT London at the Hilton Metropole.

No one would contest that the title was anything more than Risk deserved for his unflinching approach to the tournament and the Canadian will certainly be one to keep an eye on when this season’s UKIPT champions renew rivalries at the Grand Final. Clearly, this was one Risk that truly got paid off on the UK’s favourite tour.

FINAL TABLE PAYOUTS

1. Nick Abou Risk, Canada – £50,000

2. Mantas Puidokas – £27,700

3. Luke Marsh, UK – £17,600

4. Joeri Zandvliet, Netherlands – £13,100

5. Richard Chadwick, UK – £10,300

6. Max Silver, UK, £8,200

7. Suzanne Pyefinch, UK – £6,300

8. Mary Martin, UK – £4,800

9. Owen Robinson, Ireland – £3,400

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