The United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) has returned to the Isle of Man, the home of PokerStars, for the second straight year. With PokerStars being based on the island, it seemed only right that the tour would come back once again after a successful event last year. With a £700+£70 buy-in and a £350,000 prize pool guaranteed, players flocked from both Europe and America to play in this re-entry event.
There were 145 runners on Day 1a including numerous members of the Rational Group staff (people who work for either PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker). This is one of the things that makes this specific event special as staff members are allowed to play. The only request is that staff members are requested to wear special staff patches, simply in the interest of transparency.
After 10 levels of action it was Donald Rae (pictured) who finished as the chip leader with 154,900. He's ahead of Rational Group Staff member Steve Day (135,000), UKIPT Marbella champion Ludovic Geilich (123,700) and last year's runner-up, PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo (91,600). Other players who made it through the day included Simon Deadman (79,900), Full Tilt Poker Ambassador Dermot Blain (38,100) and Lee Jones (33,000).
Elsewhere, Sam Grafton's non-stop chirping allowed him to finish the day with 76,300, while Team Online's Mickey Petersen spent most of the day grinding a short stack and will return on Saturday with 26,300 – just over 16 big blinds.
The draw at the start of the day threw up some interesting tables. Fatima Moreira de Melo shared a table with the man who beat her to the Isle of Man UKIPT title last year, Duncan Mclellan. The Englishman, who had since won a second UKIPT title in Nottingham back in May, was one of the early casualties, though it is likely he'll be re-entering on Friday. Full Tilt Ambassador Martins Adeniya is expected to do the same after he run an overpair into a set in the first couple of levels.
Fellow Ambassador Ben Jenkins was also eliminated in the opening levels, as was Team Online's Vicente Delgado and former EPT Grand Final winner Steve O'Dwyer. Others who were knocked out during the day included: Team PokerStars Pros Matthias De Meulder and Luca Pagano, PokerStars Mind Sports Ambassador Jennifer Shahade and UK circuit regulars Jon Spinks and Max Silver. Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov also failed to make it through, busting in the very last level of the day.
Many of these players will take another crack at the tournament on Friday due to the re-entry format. The field is also expected to greatly increase in size with 355 players needed to make the £350,000 guarantee – anything less will result in an overlay for all involved.
Those playing on Day 1b will include Triple Crown winner Jake Cody and two-time EPT winner Vicky Coren, as well as many more Rational Group staffers. Day 1b will start at 12 p.m. local time so join us back here as the PokerNews Live Reporting Team brings you further action from this event!