Duncan McLellan (UK) emerged victorious after five days’ play in the inaugural PokerStars UKIPT leg in the Isle of Man. In the final table heads-up he beat Fatima Moreira de Melo (Netherlands). He took Ace-10 into the final hand, de Melo holding 5-5. The flop came J-Q-K, giving McLellan a broadway straight and there was no way back for his opponent after a 2 on the turn. McLellan picks up the trophy and just over GB£ 94,000 for his efforts.
By all accounts PokerStars’ experiment of bringing a major poker tournament to the Isle of Man has been a great success, not least for the buzz it created in PokerStars’ own offices in the run up to the tournament. Many staff had not attended a big, live poker tournament before and this one actually allowed then to participate too.
Two PokerStars employees did very well in the tournament. Chris Straghalis finished in 19th place, whilst Chris Jonat made the final table and finished in fourth place, collecting almost GB£ 35,000.
The Villa Marina actually makes an excellent venue for poker and it was good to see the floor filled with poker tables, humming to the clickety-clack of chips being moved around. Several of the professional players from Team PokerStars were also on the island to play, including Daniel Negreanu, Liv Boeree, and Leo Margets.
There was plenty going on away from the tables too. PokerStars organised tours of its offices to see behind the scenes and they proved very popular and were oversubscribed. The tour included a presentation about PokerStars which included a number of interesting facts:
• With more than 60 million registered accounts, PokerStars ranks ahead of Italy and just behind the UK in terms of ‘population’
• PokerStars receives around 15,000 emails per day and it aims to send a reply to them all
• PokerStars books 50,000 hotel rooms per year for its tournaments and events around the world
• Numerous comparisons between the number of virtual poker hands dealt by PokerStars and the number of hamburgers served by McDonalds, tweets published on Twitter etc.
Sunday morning also saw several players take part in a 5km run along the seafront in Douglas, only for the group apparently to bump into PokerStars’ founders walking the other way – small island.
With several first time visitors to the island for the UKIPT poker event, it was interesting to hear what they impression they had of the Isle of Man. The author overheard one visitor give the following picture they had gained of the island over the five days to a friend:
• It’s a tax haven
• It’s smaller than they imagined
• There are lots of golf courses (gleaned from the literature in the hotel)
• There is an uninhabited island off the southern coast (again learned from hotel literature)
• There is a cinema
Whilst it is only a single view, it has the advantage of being given honestly rather than as part of a marketing survey. As such, it suggests the Department of Tourism and Leisure still has some work to do in selling the island.
But events like UKIPT can only be a benefit to the Isle of Man and it is very much hoped that the Villa Marina will become a regular venue in future series of the UKIPT.