Driton Haxhiaj Wins GUKPT Luton, Again!

Driton Haxhiaj has won the 2016 Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) Luton Main Event, after defeating a field of 239 players on his way to capturing the title, and collecting £61,250 in prize money. Three years earlier, the Lithuanian player also won the very same £1,070 buy-in event, except back then there was a slightly larger field of 262 players, with Haxhiaj subsequently banking £42,750 for the victory.
On the competition’s last day, 17 players returned to the Grosvenor G Casino in Luton with Brett Kennedy leading the way, and Jeff Kimber the shortest stack remaining. Within two hours, the field had been reduced to a final table of nine, with both players still in contention.
Paul Byrne (6-6) then eliminated Janice Phillips (A-6) in 9th, and soon after she was joined on the rail by Jeff Kimber in 8th, and Paul Vas Nunes in 7th. In the hand in question, Kimber had moved his remaining 10 big blinds stack all-in preflop holding pocket fives, only to be called by Ben Vinson with A-J, and then Paul Vas Nunes with A-Q. The 10-K-9-Q-K board which ensued made Ben Vinson a straight, whilst ousting the two other players from the tournament.
Paul Byrne (A-10) then cracked Derek Boyle’s A-K to see him off in 6th, and after being dealt 10-8 Byrne did likewise to Jose Gamito (A-K) in 5th, who had committed his remaining chips on a 8-K-10 flop to no avail.
Despite being the chip leader at the start of the day, Brett Kennedy (10-10) got unlucky against Driton Haxhiaj’s pocket nines to exit in 4th, and after Paul Byrne (A-K) took care of Ben Vinson (Q-Q) in 3rd, the heads-up phase of the competition got underway.
At the beginning of the final battle, Driton Haxhiaj held a 3.014m to 1.755m chip advantage over Byrne, and after a dinner break the players agreed to lock up £52,000 each, and leave £9,520 for the eventual winner. The deciding hand was subsequently played with Bryne (As-9c) moving all-in on an 8s-Ac-7c-10c-4c board, only to be called by Haxhiaj with a Kc-5c nut flush.
As well as lifting his live poker earnings past the $250,000 mark, Driton Haxhiaj has now become the first player ever to win the same GUKPT leg twice in the  tour’s ten year history.
Final Table Results:
1: Driton Haxhiaj £61,520
2: Paul Byrne £52,000
3: Ben Vinson £28,080
4: Brett Kennedy £18,420
5: Jose Gamito £12,480
6: Derek Boyle £9,360
7: Paul Vas Nunes £7,440
8: Jeff Kimber £6,000
9: Janice Phillips £5,040

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