One of the most popular live poker events in the UK was underway this past weekend in the Aspers Casino at Westfield Stratford City.
The last out of four days of non-stop poker saw 13 players at the final table all battling out to be crowned the winner of the 2018 888poker LIVE Festival London £1,100 Main Event. Apart from fame, serious payouts were to be expected as the prize pool reached £649,440 this year, which guaranteed the winner would get his hands on a six-figure sum.
The first two stages of the competition were intense and saw most of the 656 players that entered the race be wiped out rapidly. As if the due tribute to the poker Gods was paid in full, the game turned completely in the final two days and especially so at the final table where the last 9 players in the competition got stuck in an endurance game.
At times there were rapid exits in the last stages as well, like the two levels in the final day of the competition that brought the total number of players to 13 from 21 and soon after to the top 9 that comprised the final table.
It consisted of James Williams, Derek Lawless, Antoine Labat, Hak-Hyun Lee, Adnan Dacic, Aleem Kanji, Philippe Souki, Christos Xanthopoulos, and Craig Sweden, a mix of pro and recreational players. The final three were Mister Williams, Mister Lawless and Mister Labat, the latter being the only one who reached a final table in a major competition before when he came out 9th in 2018 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for him, he would be the first one of the trio to exit this tournament, leaving home with a hefty £57,140 though.
The scene was set for British cash specialist and pro player James Williams to take on what everyone refers to as “recreational player and decorator” Derek Lawless, also a British citizen. Is wasn’t to be an epic battle as the heads-up lasted only half an hour mainly because of mister Lawless’s unsuccessful attempts at bluffing. Mister Williams saw through two major bluffs and called them both, although he nearly folded the better hand on one of them. This gave him an insurmountable advantage over his opponent and the game ended with James’s winning hand of King of spades and 4 of clubs over Derek’s Ace of hearts and Jack of hearts. An anticlimactic finish that almost seemed to close the circle for a tournament that started just as hastily only two days prior.
This gave James Williams his first career win in a major tournament and a prize of no less than £121,000 to bout, while Derek Lawless took home the second place and £85,000 in prize money. It was a fitting end for a London based tournament as the home crowd got to see two of their own battle it out and the Frenchmen being outed in the final stage. Mister Labat could have been seen as the favorite, especially after his aggressive and very effective game in the last day, but he came up short in front of Mister Williams, and the prize was decided in a David VS Goliath battle that reversed history and saw the most experienced player come out victorious. A thrilling four days that could have been better only if the final match between the last two players would have given us a little more satisfaction by at least passing the one-hour margin. Nevertheless, enthusiasts all over the world got to see both recklessness and maturity at the tables making this tourney a great lesson for everyone watching. The full list of winnings can be found here as well as a detailed list of the action at the final table.