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Full Tilt Late Night Poker is one of oldest poker shows on TV. It has been running since 1999, long before the poker boom had taken hold. Along with helping to popularize televised poker tournaments, its most important innovation is undoubtedly the introduction of the hole-cam. Without the now ubiquitous glimpse behind the action, the likes of the WSOP and WPT would not have achieved the televised success they now enjoy.

Late Night Poker is a British production and, unlike the stateside shows it inspired, it has failed to break into the mainstream. However, it is still a prestigious tournament that attracts a bevy of well known players. Forty-nine pros and internet qualifiers played a series of single-table tournaments in order to qualify for the grand final – the first half of which aired on Channel 4 on Tuesday. Along with a trophy, the remaining eight players were competing for a piece of the $500,000 prize pool, with $200k going to the winner.

The final table consisted of the “Great Dane” Gus Hansen, high stakes cash expert Patrick Antonius, PokerNews loudmouth Tony G, sandwich-thief Luke Schwartz, UKPT winner Sam Trickett, WSOPE winner Annette Obrestad, NBC Heads-Up champ Huck Seed, and two-time WSOP final tabler Tim West – who qualified online. All eight started on around 60,000 chips, with blinds at a very comfortable 200/400.

Patrik Antonius got off to the best start, winning around $30k from Gus Hansen. A connecting king on the turn was enough to scare Gus off his pair of sevens. Other than that, Tom Dwan challenger Antonius played very few big pots. Tony G made the fold of the night, when he correctly laid down a flopped flush against Gus Hansen. The Danish expert had made 8s full of 10s on the river and, facing a re-raise on the final street, Tony laid down his hand in a matter of seconds.

Perhaps the most impressive performer of the night was the little-known Tim West, who entered Late Night Poker by way of a Full Tilt qualifier. He consistently tangled with Gus Hansen and almost always came out on top. Their tête-a-tête began when Gus re-raised West with A-5 offsuit. Tim showed that he wasn’t afraid to commit his chips, putting in a large bet with K-J that forced Hansen to fold.

One of the largest and most interesting pots of the night didn’t even make it to the flop. Luke Schwartz raised to 1600 with QQ and was called by Patrik and Gus, who both held suited 6-8. The action went all the way around to Huck Seed, who elected to re-raise to 12,000 with his pocket tens. Luke moved all-in for around 40k and put Huck firmly in the tank. Color commentator Robert Williamson III suggested that Schwartz’s constant chatter may have helped Huck to correctly deduce that he should throw his hand away.

The West/Hansen rivalry then stepped up another notch as West slow-played his JJ on a blank board to entice an A-K bluff from Gus. After raising and taking down the pot, Tim showed his winning hand to the consternation of the Danish pro. Other notable hands included a tight Huck Seed seeing his patience rewarded as he doubled up with A-A. The first and only elimination of the episode came when Luke Schwartz made an over-aggressive all-in push with 10-10 against Sam Trickett’s K-K. The UK Poker Tour champ added Hansen to his list of scalps, but his 7-7 failed to hold up against the K-J of an all-in Great Dane.

At the end of the night, West and Trickett held a solid, if not commanding, lead. The majority of their chips came courtesy of Hansen and Schwartz respectively. Full Tilt Late Night Poker concludes this coming Tuesday on Channel 4 at 1 a.m. With the blinds at 1000/2000, the chip stacks are as follows:

Tim West – 136,100
Sam Trickett – 110,300
Patrik Antonius – 73,200
Huck Seed – 72,800
Tony G – 41,400
Annette Obrestad – 41,200
Gus Hansen 25,000