Day 1a action of the PokerStars.com sponsored UKIPT Isle of Man has concluded. 54 out of the original 113 runners advance.
For the first time, PokerStars.com is playing host to a tournament in its own backyard, the Isle of Man. The UKIPT Isle of Man tournament kicked off yesterday, as 113 hopefuls ponied up £1,100 for their shot at poker glory. By the time the chips were bagged and tagged it would be Ireland’s own Dara O’Kearney leading the remaining 53 participants.
After eight levels of play, O’Kearney would amass 112,100 chips en route to the top spot. But O’Kearney’s rise wouldn’t be without its obstacles. Early in the day, O’Kearney would find hit a low point of 18,000 chips.
From there, the young Irishman cruised up the leaderboard in dramatic fashion, winning contested pot after contested pot. And although he wouldn’t be the first player to crack the six-figure barrier (that distinction belongs to Niall Farrell), by the time play for the day ended he would be the one sporting a narrow chip lead over Jamie O’Connor. Farrell lost a big pot late in the day, and finished with 73,600 chips.
O’Kearney is a quintessential example of a hard-working tournament grinder. Only a handful of his tournament cashes are more than five-figures yet over the past five years he has proven a model of consistency – cashing in dozens of local and major events. Ironically, his first recorded tournament cash is also his largest, as he won a 1,400 Euro deep stack event back in 2008, good for the equivalent of 70,000 US dollars.
Most Team PokerStars pros were absent from the event, in part due to its lower buy-in but mostly because they had a previous obligation in Barcelona. Two of PokerStars online pros, Mickey Petersen and Andre Coimbra, would represent their sponsor, although Coimbra was eliminated late in the day by Caleb Sheridan, who also happens to be an employee of PokerStars parent company, the Rational Group.
Normally, Rational’s staff members are not allowed to partake in PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker sponsored events, but a special exception was made for the three-legged Isle of Man tour. To distinguish themselves from the masses, Rational Group employees brandished special patches.
A few other notable pros made the trip to the remote island to play in the tournament, including EPT London 12th place finisher David Yan and Dominik Nitsche, who is fresh off a third place finish in this year’s WSOPE Main Event.
The tournament features a £500,000 guarantee, virtually ensuring that tomorrow’s field will be significantly larger than today’s. All told, 387 more players must sign up to reach the minimum guarantee, or else PokerStars will be responsible for a rare overlay. Team PokerStars pros expected to make an appearance tomorrow include WSOP POY Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Rousso, and EPT standbys Liv Boeree and Jake Cody.
In what should make for an action packed Day 2, the two starting fields will combine on Saturday. Day 1b play is expected to begin at 12 p.m. local time on Friday and run for an additional eight levels. Stay tuned.