Great Britain have won the 2008 PartyPoker.com Poker Nations Cup. Team Great Britain, captained by Roland de Wolfe and featuring Neil Channing, Surinder Sunar, Joe Beevers, Ian Frazer and PartyPoker.com VIP online qualifier Charlie Durbin overcame Ireland heads-up to take down the prestigious title and $100,000.
The team event also featured world class line-ups from the USA, Germany, Holland and Sweden and there was no surprise that it was man-of-the moment Neil Channing who eventually brought the cup home for Britain.
All six teams competed in a “tag” final where each team captain’s judgement was vital, as it was up to them to make tactical substitutions and strategic “time outs”.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said team captain de Wolfe. “In many ways it is even better to win a team event for your country than win an individual title. I am so proud that the selections for my team were vindicated,” he added.
“We knew that it would be tight early on so I played Surinder. We fancied that he could exploit his tight image and he had played so well in his heat that it simply had to be him. Next we put on Joe Beevers. At that point we needed to sure things up as we were near the chip lead.
“This was a choice I made based on the situation. If we had been leading I would have put in Ian Frazer to get at them but Joe did a good job. I played third and always fancied this period of the tournament. I had a good run against Holland’s Thierry Van Den Berg and knew that blind stealing would be key at this stage before the blinds got too big.
“Neil had to play last as he had the form and confidence. Even though neither Ian Frazer or Charlie Durbin were involved at this stage, both were key to our success. Both played excellently in the heats and the decisions were hard but we were only allowed to play four players in the final.”
Channing anchored Great Britain to victory in a tense heads-up with Ireland’s Donnacha O’Dea. After a number of swings, the key turning point was when Channing went all-in with 8-4 off suit, only to get called by O’Dea’s 2-2. The Irish Open champion was behind on the flop and the turn only for a 4 to hit on the river and cripple the Irish.
Very soon O’Dea was all-in with 10-3 clubs, only to be called by Channing’s 9-10 hearts. The 10 on the turn was enough to win Great Britain the cup they had previously won in 2006.
Channing was originally pencilled in as a television reporter for the event coverage, but after his Irish Open win was asked by captain de Wolfe to take his place in the line-up. “I am just as proud of this as I am of my win in Ireland,” said Channing. “It was an honour to be picked to represent my country and great to be chosen to play the crucial final leg for the team.”
After six heats Britain arrived at the final table joint second in chips with Holland, just behind leaders Germany. The action started fast and it was all Holland as online qualifier Quirijn Van der Peet dramatically took down a massive pot against Germany’s Benjamin Kang to turn the tournament on its head.
This triggered a number of substitutions, particularly for Ireland, who used their full quota of replacements in a short period of time. After starting with Marty Smyth, followed by Liam Flood, captain Padraig Parkinson put himself on for one hand only to substitute himself straight away as his view was that he had to play Donnacha O’Dea for as much of the final table as possible. It was a tactic that very nearly paid off and there was no doubt that Ireland were the team with the most support throughout.
Team USA started as the short stack and departed first. USA captain Robert Williamson III had understandably put in Chris Ferguson to start and try and make the best of a bad situation after a terrible week. After all the blinds were small and there was plenty of play on the table. Ferguson’s 9-9, however, ran into O’Dea’s A-K and an A on the river sent ‘Jesus’ to the rail.
Jamie Gold was outside preparing himself to play but that was the last the tournament saw of a strong side that also included Chad Brown, Montel Williams and Thomas Keller.
Next out was defending champions Sweden who had started the session with Mats Rahmn and made serious in-roads thanks to Johan Storakers and, particularly, William Thorson. 2006 PartyPoker.com Poker Nations Cup hero Anders Henriksson’s A-5 got busted by O’Dea’s 10-10. The flop went 4-J-J and nothing on the turn or river meant that Bo Sehlstedt’s side were down to 1,000 chips.
Dutch captain Marcel Luske was left to finish them off. At this point the noise of the Irish supporters was growing. Parkinson’s decision to play O’Dea as much as possible looked to be paying dividends after a disappointing set of results in the heats and many thought the Emerald Isle were going to pull off an unlikely victory.
With all this happening Germany appeared to be making a fantastic comeback. After starting with Benjamin Kang, captain Michael Keiner played Andreas Krause, Sebastian Ruthenberg and then Thomas Bihl and it was “Buzzer” Bihl who doubled-up through Neil Channing to get them right back in contention. Bihl’s J-J held up against Channing’s K-8. However, it was Germany who fell next.
The blinds were going up and Channing continued to bully the table. He pushed with 9-7 hearts only to get called by Bihl’s 5-5 but a 9 on the flop gave Great Britain the massive pot, crippling Germany and leaving Marcel Luske to finish them off next hand.
Next to go was Holland, who had been up and down throughout the final table. Luske’s 10-9 spades was busted by O’Dea’s A-K off suit after two kings had hit the board. Marcel had started with impressive online qualifier Quirijn Van der Peet and played Daan Ruitter, Thierry Van Den Berg and himself. Seen as outsiders by PartyBets.com before a card was dealt in the tournament, Dutch captain Marcel Luske was pleased with his team’s performance.
This left O’Dea and Channing heads-up, only for the Irish Open champion to eventually conquer the Irish poker legend. Ireland captain Padraig Parkinson was philosophical about the defeat: “We were the oldest team in the tournament. It’s quite obvious that poker is a young man’s game.”
A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: “Neil Channing is running so good that Great Britain looked like the winners when it got short handed. Full credit must go to Ireland, however, who brought a great atmosphere to the tournament and very nearly pipped them at the post. On paper, the likes of Chris Ferguson and Jamie Gold for Team USA look very intimidating but it seems like when they cross the Atlantic for these tournaments they just can’t quite get it right.
“It was an amazing experience for the five PartyPoker.com VIP online qualifiers. A week alongside the world’s best pros in a unique team atmosphere is intimidating but ultimately exciting and unforgettable.”
The winning team scooped $100,000 in this unique tournament.
Over six heats, each player competed once to score points for their team with individual match winners scooping $20,000 for themselves for their efforts. The size of the team chip stacks for the tag final depended on the points gained by the players in the six heats. The triumphant nation was the last with a player standing.
PARTYPOKER.COM POKER NATIONS CUP 7th – 10th April 2008 – FINAL STANDINGS
1st GREAT BRITAIN – $100,000
2nd IRELAND – $30,000
Individual heat winners received $20,000 with the runner-up $5,000