Can you remember your first-ever live poker tournament? I’d be willing to bet that it was either a home game with your friends, or a small buy-in event at your local casino, not a 250 mile round trip, on your own, like Lee Ingledow’s (pictured here in the black jacket).

One of Lee’s friends mentioned to him that there was a major tournament taking place at the home of Manchester United, Old Trafford, which we know was the $250,000 guaranteed Grand Prix Poker Tour (GPPT). Despite having never played a live tournament before, perhaps buoyed by winning a $10,000 guaranteed tournament online at partypoker for just under $3,000, Lee threw caution to the wind and set of down the M6 from Carlisle to Manchester.

“Basically, I went to Old Trafford in January because one of my mates told me about it. That occasion I travelled down on my own and had a really good event, I didn’t cash, but I did really well especially as it was my first tournament.”

Things were going swimmingly for the tyre builder and he was around 50,000 chips above the average stack size when Lady Luck shone on his opponents instead of him. After five-and-a-half hours of grinding, Lee found himself on the rail after losing with [Jx][Jx] twice and then [Kx][Kx] in quick succession to end his run prematurely. However, although he didn’t make it into the money place, Lee knew he’d be heading to another GPPT event as soon as he had the chance.

“You couldn’t be made to feel more welcome, that is the big thing. When I went to Manchester, as an amateur, someone trying to play for the first time, I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. It wasn’t just the players, it was the people organising it. Jamie Moniz and everyone always had time to answer questions even though they’re really busy people. That’s big for someone like me because you think you’re going to go to these places, pay your money and disappear into the background, but everyone gets made to feel involved in some way with all the activities going on.”

“Daryl Haney took me under his wing, he played his own game, but he was really helpful. It was like everyone wanted to try and help you, even though you’re an amateur and it was your first game, which was obvious because you stood out like a sore thumb, they were there, everyone was giving you a helping hand. Even though I’d bust out and travelled down to Manchester by myself, I knew I’d be back and that’s because of the atmosphere.”

And Lee was back in time for the GPPT Newcastle festival. For this leg, Lee opted to try and win his way into the Main Event. Starting at the $0.01 level, Lee then won a $5.50 ticket, a $22 ticket, and then his $109 buy-in. As he was more than prepared to buy himself into the GPPT Newcastle Main Event, Lee opted to use the $109 ticket that he’d won for one cent to enter the Warm-Up tournament at Aspers Casino. It turned out to be a great decision.

“I came 20th in that event, missing out on the money, but bust Simon and won his bounty, which was a £550 high roller seat.”

So here Lee is, playing a £550 buy-in tournament in only his third experience of a live poker tournament. While nervous, Lee recalls that the nerves soon started to disappear as he accumulated chips and made a march towards the nine-handed final table.

$0.01 into £4,000

“I absolutely loved Newcastle, my friend Dean came with me on this one and six of us going to Elland Road! I was nervous again, but hit a couple of hands and then started to pick chips up without doing anything stupid. I approached the final table near the top of the chip counts, but made a couple of bad moves and that was it. I basically made £4,000 for $0.01! The chances of that happening again are slim but that won’t stop me from trying.”

Lee admits that it was probably his inexperience that cost him at the final table, coupled with the fact there were some very talented players who he had to contend with, including eventual champion Dan O’Callaghan. Some players may have been downbeat had they fallen short of winning, but Lee drew inspiration from his excellent performance and drew on some positives.

“The experience I gained in Newcastle has probably pushed me on three or four stages as a poker player. For example, I won’t be bullied next time because I watched back the live stream and saw a few hands where they were using their experience against me.”

It’s fair to say that Lee has been bitten by the poker bug and he’s already planning to continue his hot streak when the GPPT heads to Elland Road, Leeds, in April, partly because he’s a Leeds United fan of many years thanks to his dad forcing his love of the Whites on him as a boy!

“When you have the likes of Jamie Moniz and Daryl Haney and even Simon and Rob answering any question to help you, then inviting you down to Dusk Till Dawn, it’s very friendly, that’s what it is, and to be honest with you I’d recommend any amateur to have a go on the GPPT. I thought I couldn’t play against all of these people, but I was wrong. It doesn’t matter what your level is, there are people there to help you, they’re not there to put you down.”

If you’ve been considering playing in a GPPT but think that it is infested with sharks you may need to think again. It has a unique atmosphere, one that is welcoming and fun, it just happens to have a massive prize pool to play for.

“The GPPT gives players like me the chance to play for a massive prize pool. My advice to anyone thinking of playing a GPPT is to just have a go, get in there, get involved, you’ll love it.”

Qualify for GPPT Events Exclusively at partypoker

The next stop on the GPPT is the online leg scheduled for April 3 at 5:00pm. This $109 buy-in tournament features a massive $500,000 guaranteed prize pool and is not to be missed.

Lee spoke of the Elland Road leg of the GPPT and this takes place on the weekend of April 9-10 at the home of Leeds United. Satellites and online Day 1s will appear in the partypoker lobby soon!

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