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Driton Haxhiaj Wins His Second GUKPT Luton Title

Driton Haxhiaj


  • Driton Haxhiaj won the 2016 GUKPT Luton Main Event for £61,250 three years after winning the same tournament.

Lithuanian Driton Haxhiaj won the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) Luton Main Event in 2013 where he topped a field of 262 players to secure a £42,750 payday. Three years later, Haxhiaj again emerged victorious in the GUKPT Luton Main Event, outlasting 239 opponents to bank £61,250 and his second GUKPT trophy.

2016 GUKPT Luton Main Event Final Table Results

1Driton Haxhiaj£61,520
2Paul Byrne£52,000
3Ben Vinson£28,080
4Brett Kennedy£18,420
5Jose Ruben Rubio Gamito£12,480
6Derek Boyle£9,360
7Paul Vas Nunes£7,440
8Jeff Kimber£6,000
9Janice Phillips£5,040

The final day’s play commenced with 17 players in their seats, Brett Kennedy leading from the front, and Jeff Kimber bringing up the rear.

Within minutes of the restart, David Lloyd got his chips into the middle with ace-queen and ran into the dominating-suited ace-king of Kennedy. Lloyd looked to have earned a reprieve on the queen-high flop, but a ten on the turn and a king on the river improved Kennedy to a straight, sending Lloyd to the rail.

Lloyd wasn’t on his own on the sidelines for long because Ethan Brown, Jiushuang Wang, Aleks Golubevs, Tamer Kamel, Albert Sapiano, Alex Zeligman and Sandiep Khosa all bust within the first two hours of play; Khosa’s exit set the final table of nine.

It was a coin flip that caused the first exit of the final table; Janice Phillips’ ace-jack failed to improve against the black sixes of Paul Byrne. Phillips was soon followed to the rail by both Jeff Kimber and Paul Vas Nunes, who bust on the same hand.

Kimber moved all-in for around 10 big blinds with pocket fives and Ben Vinson called the all-in bet with ace-jack, only to see Paul Vas Nunes come over the top for an additional 171,000 to put himself all-in with ace-queen. Vinson called and watched as the dealer spread the community cards, which by the river read {10-Diamonds}{K-Hearts}{9-Clubs}{Q-Spades}{K-Clubs} to gift Vinson a straight, eliminating Kimber and Vas Nunes, and boosting Vinson’s stack to 1,500,000.

Derek Boyle was the next player to head to the cashier’s desk, his ace-king being cracked by the ace-ten of Byrne courtesy of a ten on the flop, before Jose Gamito became the first player to collect a five-figure payout. He crashed out in fifth place when he committed his chips with ace-king on an eight-king-ten flop only to see Byrne sat there with ten-eight of diamonds.

Start-of-the-day chip leader Kennedy ended his run with a fourth-place finish. Again, it was the best hand preflop that was outdrawn. This time it was tens for Kennedy against the nines of Haxhiaj, the latter catching a third nine on the flop to leave only three people in the GUKPT Luton Main Event.

The dangerous Vinson became the third-place finisher when his queens were outdrawn by the ace-king of Byrne when a king appeared on the turn. Vinson’s exit left Haxhiaj to go into the heads-up battle with Byrne trailing 1,755,000 to 3,014,000 chips.

Not long into the one-on-one battle, the players headed to dinner. Upon their return, they agreed to take £52,000 each and play for the trophy and an additional £9,520. That extra prize money was claimed by Haxhiaj after Byrne raised to 75,000 and Haxhiaj called.

Haxhiaj checked on the {8-Spades}{A-Clubs}{7-Clubs} flop, Byrne bet 75,000 and called when Haxhiaj check-raised to 225,000. On the arrival of the {10-Clubs} turn, Haxhiaj led for 350,000 and was called, before Haxhiaj checked on the {4-Clubs} turn. Bryne moved all-in and Haxhiaj beat him into the pot with a call, turning over {K-Clubs}{5-Clubs} for the nut flush, smashing the {A-Spades}{9-Clubs} of Byrne.

A superb result for Haxhiaj whose live tournament winnings now exceed $250,000. Haxiaj will no doubt be in Blackpool from Nov. 6 to compete in the penultimate GUKPT Festival of the year. You can join him by qualifying for the GUKPT Blackpool Main Event at Grosvenor Poker, where if you download Grosvenor Poker via PokerNews can claim a 200% up to £700 first deposit bonus.

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