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The 2018 888poker LIVE Festival London £1,100 Main Event played out at the Aspers Casino at Westfield Stratford City recently. Outlasting the 656 runners that came in through one of five starting flights, cash game specialist James Williams (cover image) was the last player left standing and won the title for £121,000.
Williams had a short heads-up confrontation with recreational player Derek Lawless whom he defeated to lift the trophy.
Antoine Labat was another seasoned face on the final table and returned with a third place finish. Labat noticeably dominated Day 2 play and kept up the aggression through the final table play all the way through to his third place finish.
“I just couldn’t win an all in against a short stack for two days,” Labat said after his elimination. Labat did bring out his entire set of poker skills on the final table and pulled off an impressive bluff with jack-high against Lawless.
With 17 more players joining the field early on Day 2, a total of 210 runners resumed action for a piece of the £649,440 prize pool. The money bubble was reached with the elimination of French player Florence Allera who had pocket fours that improved to a set on the flop against Fuad Serhan’s pocket queens. However, Serhan got back in the hand after spiking a queen on the turn that sent Allera out on the money bubble, locking in a min-cash of £2,300 for the 72 remaining players.
The day eventually ended with 21 survivors, all of whom came back for Day 3 play. Action was fast paced on Day 3 and the field cut down quickly in the first few hours of play. The final table however, proved to be slow and lengthy.
Start of Day 2 chip leader Antonios Onoufriou (11th for £9,000), 888poker ambassador Fernando Pons (13th for £8,000), Kelly Saxby (16th for £7,000), 888poker ambassador Ana Marquez (22nd for £5,200), 2018 WSOP Main Event Champion John Cynn (36th for £3,600), Romain Lewis (50th for £2,600), Benny Glaser (56th for £2,300) and Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi (61st for £2,300) were some of the notables who finished in the money.
From the 888poker team, Dominik Nitsche, Sofia Lovgren, Parker Talbot, Vivian Saliba, and Chris Moorman were also seen gunning for the top prize but all of them fell short of the payouts. Defending champion, Tom Hall also failed to recreate the magic on the felts and busted empty-handed.
Action was slow right from the start and it was some time before the first elimination was ticked off. Craig Sweden ran into the pocket aces of Philippe Souki and went out in ninth place.
888poker online qualifier Christos Xanthopoulos ran out of chips shortly thereafter and fell out in eighth place. In the hand, Xanthopoulos held against Adnan Dacic’s . The board ran and Dacic’s two pair won him the pot, while Xanthopoulos managed to convert his online package into an eighth place finish.
It wasn’t long before the field was reduced to six finalists with Philippe Souki bowing out in seventh place. Souki’s exit was shocking enough, since he held for top pair and top kicker on the flop . He was however delivered the fatal blow by Labat, who held for the nut flush draw and completed his flush on the turn, making the on the river a mere formality.
Play slowed down again till a hand where Labat shunted Aleem Kanji out of the field with his proving superior to the latter’s . The board brought no relief for Kanji and he was eliminated in sixth place.
Serbian pro Adnan Dacic then flopped top pair and a gutshot straight draw with , but it wasn’t enough to beat Labat’s that improved to two pairs on the rundown .
Hak-Hyun Lee was eliminated next by Lawless who held against the former`s . On a board of , Lawless’ queen-high kicker came into play and Lee bowed out in fourth place.
The three-handed play witnessed an eager exchange of chips and it was Antoine Labat who ended up short. With the dealer fanning out a flop of flop, Labat hit an open-ended straight flush draw with versus Derek Lawless’ king-high flush draw on . The appeared on the turn and the on the river was a blank for Labat who was relegated to the rail in third place.
Williams scored a big double up in the first hand of the heads-up play through Derek Lawless to move into a massive, nine-to-one lead in chips. Lawless did score two double ups thereafter to improve his position, but Williams kept digging into his stack till the final hand was dealt. Lawless raised and Williams defended with . The flop was checked by Williams while Lawless continued for 950,000, prompting Williams to call and the duo headed to the turn. Here, they both checked to see the river. Williams checked and Lawless instantly moved all in for 4.7 Million. Williams tank-called and Lawless tabled his for a missed nut flush draw that was no match for Williams dominating top pair.
1.James Williams – £121,000
2. Derek Lawless – £85,000
3. Antoine Labat – £57,140
4. Hak-Hyun Lee – £41,000
5. Adnan Dacic – £31,000
6. Aleem Kanji – £25,000
7. Philippe Souki – £20,500
8. Christos Xanthopoulos – £16,000
9. Craig Sweden – £12,500
Some other prominent winners at the series include Ian Hunter (Super High Roller for £28,800), Arvydas Budvitis (Opening Event for £17,000), Matas Cimbolas (High Roller for £42,505), Natalia Drytchak (Ladies Event for £1,025), Chris Da-Silva (The Whale for £5,070) and Gary Solomons (PLO for £2,340).