Martin Jacobson Wins UKIPT London as PokerStars Takes Another Positive Step

  • Martin Jacobson came back from the short stack to win the Main Event and £232,300
  • It was Jacobson’s first major tournament win since his 2014 WSOP Main Event title
  • Penny-pinching by Amaya caused the disappearance of the UKIPT for several years
  • The UKIPT has returned and flourished under Flutter Entertainment’s stewardship
Martin Jacobson
Martin Jacobson won the UKIPT London Main Event and £232,300 ($262,603). [Image: World Poker Tour]

Jacobson wins £232,300

What it lacked in duration it more than made up for in excitement. I am talking, of course, about the UKIPT London Main Event final table which went bish, bash, bosh and was done and dusted before 4pm on Saturday. The £1,100 buy-in tournament drew a record field for a UKIPT event of 1,458 entrants, generating a prize pool of £1,399,680 ($1,582,267).

The dominant chip leader overnight was one of the game’s greatest-ever online players, Conor Beresford, but he would have to settle for second place in the end after “comeback king” Martin Jacobson went from Day 3 short stack to claim the £232,300 ($262,603) first prize. Beresford picked up £145,120 ($164,051) for his efforts, bittersweet for the man who once held 70% of the chips with five players left. Spain’s Martin Caride took third and £103,650 ($117,171) with popular Norwegian pro Jon Kyte getting fourth and £79,740 ($90,142).

I kept getting 2nd and 3rd [place] before so actually winning this tournament is very nice.”

Jacobson was in a reflective but jovial mood after the result, joking about all his EPT crossbars. “I kept getting 2nd and 3rd [place] before so actually winning this tournament is very nice.”

Speaking exclusively to VegasSlotsOnline News, he described the tournament as a “rollercoaster ride,” adding: “I found myself sub-ten big blinds on multiple occasions. Ultimately, I’m very happy that I was able to turn things around and as a middle stack overcome the ICM sandwich on the final table to bank the win.”

In the final hand, he held pocket aces versus the 9♦️2♦️ of Beresford. The flop came 9♥️3♠️2♥️ and Beresford check-raised. Jacobson called and the turn was the A♥️. Again, Beresford went for the check-raise, this time shoving into the superior hand. Jacobson snap-called and was delighted to see that he was a lock. As the inconsequential river was dealt, he was already shaking hands with Beresford and celebrating with his rail.

November Niner

On November 10, 2014, nine poker hopefuls dubbed “The November Nine” took their seats in the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio in Las Vegas, returning to battle after a 16-week break. The prize up for grabs? A cool $10m and the title of World Series of Poker Main Event champion.

The chip leader was The Netherlands’ Jorryt Van Hoof and the short stack was Brazil’s Bruno Politano. The story in the runup to the final table was Mark Newhouse’s back-to-back appearance on poker’s biggest stage, but the story after was that of Martin Jacobson, the studious and highly prepared Swede who grinded his way from the second-shortest stack to record a famous victory.

continued to run deep in tournaments all over the world, but another marquee victory had eluded him

Jacobson was already considered to be one of the game’s top players. He had finished third in EPT Budapest in 2008, runner-up in WPT Venice in 2009, runner-up in EPT Villamoura in 2010, runner-up in EPT Deauville in 2011, and fourth in EPT Berlin in 2011. In the eight years since, he has continued to run deep in tournaments all over the world, but another marquee victory had eluded him. That is until now.

UK and Ireland Poker Tour

For players from the UK and Ireland, the UKIPT holds a very special place. Early seasons were televised on Channel Four and by Season 2, the tour had fostered a community feel. Three satellites ran every night of the week on PokerStars, pumping out packages and seats to Newcastle, Nottingham, Dublin, Cork, Galway, Bristol, Edinburgh, and London.

there was a tremendous sense of camaraderie on the tour

Spearheaded by Kirsty Thompson and later David Curtis, the UKIPT grew in popularity through Seasons 3 and 4. I chased the online and live leaderboards, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in 2014. My VSO News colleague Dara O’Kearney was unstoppable online, as was my then flatmate Daragh Davey at the live tables and they deservedly took the spoils of victory. More than anything else, there was a tremendous sense of camaraderie on the tour, a quality which is rarely present in such a highly competitive environment.

Then came the Amaya era of PokerStars, a period they are admittedly now keen to put behind them. The Scheinbergs sold the company for $4.9bn and to finance the purchase, Amaya saddled themselves with $3bn of debt. Those loans had to be paid and that meant more rake, more cross-selling, fewer bonuses, faster structures, and the end of the Supernova loyalty scheme. It also meant an end to the regional tours, loss leaders for the company, but a vital point of contact with their customers and opportunity to generate brand loyalty.

Customer satisfaction is king

All of Amaya’s short-term thinking hurt the brand and market share was ultimately surrendered. When Flutter took over the company in 2019, the message was simple: “Customer Satisfaction is King.” Bonuses previously tied to bottom line targets were now linked to player feedback. Giving players what they wanted became the goal and one way that PokerStars could achieve that was to give them back what they had when customer loyalty was high.

Live events have ceased to be rakefests and the treatment of players at those events is top notch.

This year, we have seen the roll out of a Supernova-esque loyalty scheme. Live events have ceased to be rakefests and the treatment of players at those events is top notch. Regional tours are back with Eureka, Estrellas, FPT, and UKIPT stops announced. There are even rumors of the return of leaderboards in 2023.

I might be a Unibet Poker ambassador, but I’m a poker ambassador first and more than anything else, I want to see players treated fairly. I made my opinions of Amaya PokerStars very clear at the time and when it became obvious that those criticisms were falling on deaf ears, I voted with my feet and stopped attending their events. Conversely, I feel honor-bound now to acknowledge the good things that they are doing. If you don’t pull your punches, you should also not demur from giving praise. It takes time to win people back, but PokerStars is on the right track.