Mere days after the conclusion of the PartyPoker sponsored Women’s World Open III play began in the latest installment of another PartyPoker sponsored event, the Sports Star Challenge. The event, a double shoot out structured similarly to the Women’s World Open, divided players into preliminary heats of seven players based on different types of sports. Within each heat, professional athletes of each sport were joined by two PartyPoker online qualifiers to compete for a chance to win a piece of the $84,000 prize pool. Last year’s winner, European Poker Tour Hostess Kara Scott was not on hand to defend her title, but several other big names showed up to try to take down the event.
First up was the darts heat where online qualifier Jason Brennan defeated arguably the greatest darts player in history, Phil “The Power” Taylor to advance to the final table. Next up in the rugby heat, Henry Paul defeated Peter Richards to move on to the second round. Those might know the New Zealand-born Paul best as a member of the Leeds Carnegie rugby team.
In Heats Three and Four boxing and motorsports stars took center stage and it was Irish fighter Dave “Boy” McAuley who knocked out the competition for the fighters while it was one of the qualifiers, PartyPoker VIP Scott O’Reilly who prevailed over the professionals of the racing world.
Heats five and six were dedicated to football, or what Americans refer to as soccer. German footballer Thomas Helmer was the first to advance to the final and it was Paresh Patel, the second online qualifier who defeated last year’s runner-up, Norman Whiteside, to advance out of the sixth heat. The seventh and final heat dedicated to the golfers went to French player and former British Open runner-up Jean Van de Velde.
With the preliminary heats in the books, the seven winners returned to play the final table and determine a champion. The last man in was the first man out, as Van de Velde was eliminated in 7th place with online qualifier Paresh Patel knocked out just a few hands later. McAuley took the early lead in the match while Helmer struggled with an extremely short stack before going out in 5th.
When four-handed play started, both McAuley and Brennan held significant chip advantages over their opponents, but it didn’t take long before Brennan accumulated nearly twice as many chips as his next closest competitor. After knocking out Paul in fourth place, O’Reilly shortened the gap between himself and Brennan, but a lucky hand for Brennan sent O’Reilly to the rail in third. Brennan moved all-in from the small blind with meager holdings of 10-2, clearly intending to steal, but O’Reilly woke up with A-Q and called. The board ran out 8-6-2-9-9 and Brennan’s deuces and nines were enough to give him the pot and the 4 to 3 chip lead over McAuley.
On the final hand of play Brennan and McAuley got it all in preflop holding A-3 and K-10 respectively and after the board ran out 8-5-5-4-Q ace high held to give Brennan the title and eliminate McAuley in second place.
The televised event featuring commentary from Jesse May will air in Britain later this year.

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