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Blue Blood at the Goliath - the results!

The results of the biggest poker tournament outside Las Vegas are in, and Blue Blood were again among the cash. So, over 6,300 people paid their £120 to enter and less than 900 made it to Day 2, of whom 11 were Blue Blood members. So there follows as comprehensive a write-up of all the trials and tribulations of the team as I can manage.
Unfortunately Stuart Sewell wasn't among those to make Day 2 but he sent me the following amusing hand which worked out well: the blinds were 1200/2400 so this is more than half way through Day 1 and Stuart had about 50 bbs at the start, and he defended K6 off in the big blind, and on a flop of J95 with one club he decided to float his opponent and called her c-bet. His thinking was at first to check raise bluff but on such a dry board he decided to just call and then think about leading any non-ace turn. The turn was actually a king so all of a sudden he had a value hand, he's now beating all the AJ, QQ and so on hands his opponent can have, although he does think his opponent has few bluff hands here he's beating some value hands now and decided to call her 17k bet into about 27k in the pot. The river was an amusing 6, so he's only really losing to king jack, jacks or nines or the super unlikely KK which he blocks, QT and 78 which she isn't raising in early position preflop, or a really unlucky 66. So, having analysed this, he led out for 31k. To be fair, she did think for a while before calling with her aces. By his account, she wasn't happy, and told him how badly he played the hand in some detail. He just thanked her and stacked her chips - and then trap called KK about 5 hands later knowing 'she was just itching to rip it in'. She did, he snapped, she lost.
From Blue Blood, Phil Stein and Susan Goldswain were the unlucky ones to make day 2 and not cash. Phil saw a spot to try and get a big stack and three bet shoved 28 big blinds with AQ in the very first hand of the day, and very nearly got it through, unlucky for another player to wake up with AK and eventually call.
It wasn't all that long to grind until the bubble burst and 682 people got paid.
A few were left short as the bubble burst, and John Burberry was the first to fall, 635th for £255. He had 11 big blinds and woke up with kings; there's only one course of action with an early position raiser, in it went and the guy called with tens. Exactly what you want to see ... until a ten hits the turn. Horribly unlucky. 
Di Farrell couldn't get anything going either but managed to cling on until eventually departing 533rd also for the minimum cash of £255. She was pleased to have even made Day 2 considering she managed to crack aces with a set of jacks toward the end of day 1, reinforced by managing to turn the nut flush right at the end of play in level 16.
Will Messenger had a horrible run and the big stack he had carried through to day 2 eventually passed to the other players as he departed 361st for £320, shortly followed by Mike Taynton who used all the experience that he's brought with him to Blue Blood membership, eventually grinding to 342nd for £320. His exit hand was another unlucky one - a 14 big blind stack shoved from under the gun, a microstack called (for all of 4 big blinds), Mike overcalled for 12 big blinds with queens, and a late position stack then thought and thought and eventually called three all-ins for half of his stack with ace-king offsuit. The other two had ace-ten suited and another ace-king offsuit respectively, so Mike was looking really good to more than triple up here. The board ran out ten-nine-seven-nine ... king. Ouch. There is some debate about whether the fourth player should be committing half his stack here; it's certainly close considering the likely card-removal issue.
Mark England was loving life inside the final 300. He'd already spun his 265k up to 500k and then been moved tables. Quickly getting a feel for the other players, he had one huge decision for most of his stack: a young player doing the hoodie-cap-and-sunglasses thing raised in middle position and Mark looked down at 99 on the button and flatted. The flop came jack of spades and two small cards and the young guy bet. Mark couldn't think about folding yet and flatted again. The turn brought the ten of spades, and the youngster almost instantly jammed his chips in for very nearly a full pot sized bet, and instantly hid inside his hood. Mark did what he usually does in these circumstances and had a little chat. He wondered if the guy had a spade flush draw maybe. And wondered why the guy bet his stack if he had a jack here, or two pair. Wouldn't a value bet be smaller? And maybe take a bit more time over it? And the guy looked more and more uncomfortable, frozen in his chair, and so Mark eventually tossed in a chip to call and the guy flipped over 66, and Mark held.
He knocked out a couple of smaller stacks and was sitting on 1.1 million chips when an aggressive opener made it 55k in middle position. With the blinds at 10k/20/k/2k this looked weaker rather than stronger, so when Mark looked down at pocket kings in the cutoff, a three bet to 145k seemed profitable, only for a guy on the button to cold four bet to 320k or so, almost half his stack. The original raiser agonised then eventually folded, and the chat began again. I'm not a fan of cold four betting half your stack here; opinion is divided but you're almost definitely committing yourself, you can't cold four bet-fold, so why not just shove? Was he trying to make it look like he could fold with aces? In the end of course there was only one course of action, Mark had the second best preflop hand ever made, and shoved it in. The young man instacalled and flipped over .... pocket tens. Really not sure about that, dude. The guy was adamant he was 'ahead of some ranges' whatever that means. I don't think he was ever getting called by worse except flipping with AK, possibly only suited, and is never getting a better hand to fold, apart from maybe, just maybe, pocket jacks. So this can't be right. While Mark had been aggressive he hadn't been three-betting wildly and hadn't shown down any bluffs. A pretty blank flop looked good for Mark, 85% favourite at that point to have 1.9 million chips and the absolute chip lead in the room with about 275 players left, but the poker gods had other ideas and decided to give the other guy a runner-runner four flush and that left Mark crippled. About 20 minutes later the blinds were up and he had about 13 big blinds so AJ suited was a perfect three bet shove, and unfortunately the original raised snapped him off with AQ and that's all she wrote, 259th for £385. Mark decided that he wasn't in the mood to play nicely with the others after that and left to lick his wounds [*Read: threw all his toys out of the pram and stropped off home without saying goodbye to anyone like a little girl - Ed]. A couple of days later he was more philosophical: 'It is what it is, I guess', he said, 'but I'm not gonna lie, that one hurt. I was just starting to think I might actually make a deep run at one of these. Never mind, on to the next one.'
Nic Rawlings was making his mark in his brand new BB hoodie, getting through day 1 comfortably at about average on 148k. He tells me that he had quads twice on day 1 - once managing to get a big pot by flatting 55 three ways and then flatting a short-stack flop shove and call on 865, and then persuading him to call again on a 5 river. Must be nice. He also flopped quad 8s and despite no-one else really having anything did manage to persuade his opponent to call a river bet. He also had the amusement of being on the right side of a 'never celebrate too early' moment late on day 1 - literally second last hand of the day - and he was pretty short, and shoved KQ of diamonds and was called by a big stack with AQ. The flop was K high (with 2 diamonds) but the turn was an ace, and his opponent gave out a yell and punched the table, only for another diamond to fall on the river and double Nic up. Apparently much smirking around the table.
He kept running consistently on day 2, not making mistakes - your correspondent chatted to him on the second break when he had 900k when the average was a lot less than half that, but it all eventually fell apart and he spent a couple of hours blinding away card dead and eventually shoved KQs on the button with only the blinds to play, and of course ran into KK. Super unlucky. Final position 86th for £670, so not a bad week's work. Well played. 
That left three BB players still in with the tournament well into its final 100. Reem Ahmed had gone super short, down to I think about 12 big blinds at the second break, but spun it up brilliantly until eventually getting it in against a short stack with 77 against AJ suited and the other guy hitting a flush, and finally, with two short stacks shoving ahead of her she woke up with A9 of clubs in the small blind and was priced to get it in, only for the big blind to make a very questionable decision and overcall with Jack Ten offsuit. Reem flopped two pair but the big blind somehow hit runner runner flush and knocked them all out. It really does seem that all the BB players got their money in good and got unlucky . Again, very unlucky for Reem who finished 72nd for £765. 
I'm afraid that I'm short of details from this point on! 2 players remained: Mark Cooper exited shortly after Reem in 68th for £895 but I don't have his exit hand. 
And that left just the one BB player to make it into Day 3, when the last few of the 6300+ players came back to play for the serious money. Jeremy Brown had fired five day 1 bullets but his persistence was easily rewarded once again as he made another super deep run, only to go card dead in the last couple of dozen players, eventually ending up with 3 big blinds and shoving QJ and getting called by A9. He hit his queen but the other guy hit his ace, and then his 9 too and Jeremy was gone in an excellent and impressive 19th place for which he earned £3510. 
Jeremy Brown, day 3, deep into the tournament once again. width=
And as a happy footnote, Grosvenor run a team tournament at the Goliath every year - teams of up to six, best aggregate finish wins - and for the second time in three years, one of the Blue Blood teams topped the list of 83 entries. So congratulations to Mark Cooper, Jeremy Brown, Reem Ahmed (for the second time!) and Susan Goldswain who all receive a free entry into the Goliath next year, a £220 ticket and a nice trophy each. It's worth mentioning that the team of Mark England, Nic Rawlings, Mike Taynton , Steven Frew and Phil Stein finished fourth too. 
So, an exhausting week for many topped off by some great results for Blue Blood. Considering that only 14% or so of the field got to Day 2, Blue Blood managing to get 11 out of 16 players into Day 2 and for 9 of them to cash was an excellent, excellent performance. Well played all. 


Blue Blood take on Goliath!

We are told that the Goliath is the biggest poker event outside Las Vegas. And it's in, ah, Coventry .....
Actually, the Grosvenor Casino under the Ricoh Stadium is really quite nice: it's got a waterfall that then flows under the glass floor on the way in and everything. The barn-like conference rooms out the back where the tournament is actually held are, well, as you'd imagine, but it's not their decor which is their most important feature. It's their size.
As we speak, on Friday morning, 4838 entries have been recorded in the 6 day ones so far. Today, Friday, is the last of the day ones and it sold out halfway through yesterday - so 800 more people are already in, and the queue in the casino to be an alternate - to sit down when someone gets knocked out - is around the block already. Madness. And of course, wherever there is poker madness, right in the heart of it is where you will find Blue Blood.
A lot of low-stakes players and pub part-timers treat the Goliath like their World Series; it's the biggest event that they play in the year at £120 entry and they make a day of it with their mates, having a drink along the way. More seasoned players who regularly play at the casino in £30 midweek donkfests can make a week of it, staying over in a hotel (though I did see a camper van in the carpark; a man after my own heart) firing multiple bullets and happy to re-enter many times to get a decent stack into day 2. Then there is a sprinkling of really decent amateur players and tournament professionals trying to pick their way through the minefield with an eye on the top prize which will be over £70,000 this year.
So on a starting table it's pretty important to categorise your opposition quite quickly so you can have a plan on how to exploit each individual player, and avoid being exploited in turn. And then when stacks get shorter and it's time to shove it all in, you need to know the range of hands your opponent is likely to have and how to exploit that too. And above all you need patience. Day one is thirteen hours long (including breaks) and sometimes you just have to keep folding for an hour. Fortunately, it seems that Blue Blood members are pretty adept at all this, because as we speak there are no less than 10 of us through to day 2. It's expected that the total number of qualifiers to day 2 might reach 900, with an average stack at about 150k which will be 30 big blinds, so anyone with a bigger stack than this is in an enviable position. 
Susan Goldswain (144k) and Phil Stein (139.5k) got through early in the week. Star performer on Monday, day 1C, was Will Messenger who bagged up no less than 432k, which is still one of the biggest stacks through. Mark Cooper (183k) and Reem Ahmed (209k) also qualified well above average.
Tuesday, Day 1D saw Jeremy Brown finally get through after several attempts on 202k. It was always going to happen and he got unlucky a few times. Mark England was pleased to bag up 265k. John Burberry got knocked out in the final level after 12 hours of play - just such a horrible experience - but duly got through Day 1E with 123k. Nic Rawlings had fired a bullet earlier in the week and ran terribly, and it looked like he was doing it again until the second last hand of the day saw him persuade someone to double him up to a healthy 148k. Mike Tainton had fired previously too and was running badly (apart from a spectacular double up when a lady on his table accidentally raised to 56,000 instead of 5,600 and he had the stone cold nuts at the time, must be nice) but then found the cards towards the end and eventually bagged a very healthy 224k.
John and Mark ended up sitting side by side late on Day 1D
John and Mark ended up sitting side by side late on Day 1D
Di Farrell is gracing us with her presence today for her only bullet. She doesn't really need to cash the Goliath though after a successful trip to Vegas in June where she cashed the Rio daily deepstacks in both Omaha HiLo and NLHE for over a thousand dollars. She met up just last week in Vegas again with Gordon McArthur who was going a bit old school and playing in the Orleans - he chopped the $130 bounty 3 ways and then overcame a 6:1 chip deficit in the $105 HORSE heads up against a guy using his WSOP 8 game bracelet as a card protector to take it down. He was only there a few days and ended up in the top ten of their monthly tournament league so there's another cheekly little payment to come there too. Very sadly Gordon won't be at the Goliath this year due to work commitments. 
So there's just a few members left to qualify in the madness that is Day 1G today. Dawn Cooke, Michael Kossov and Steven Frew have all fired a bullet or two already, and Di Farrell, Stuart Sewell, Matt Wood and I think Lindsey Rogers (hope I haven't missed anyone - anyway, it's your own fault for not updating social media) are all entering for their one and only chance. It would be amazing to get everyone through to day 2 so good luck guys! 
 And I'm looking forward to the next report of everyone cashing on Saturday afternoon sometime...


Blue Blood hit the Goliath Festival in numbers!

We are told that the Grosvenor Goliath Festival is the biggest outside the US and it certainly feels like it. Even early in the week the Ricoh casino is heaving. The ten days start with a £220 25/50 2 day event with 3 day 1 flights and Blue Blood were well represented from the off. Nic Rawlings was our first entry on Thursday, wearing his hoodie with pride for the first time. Nic is a talented player, well known to many on the team through the Black Country Poker Club and the Midlands poker circuit. It didn't go well this time on a super aggressive table - he reports that 2 players were knocked out in the first hour or so, which is impressive considering that the average chip stack at that point is over 150 big blinds. He'll be back later in the week.
Next up, Friday saw no less than 6 Blue Blood players enter the comp: old hands Phil Stein, Jeremy Brown, Matt Wood, Susan Goldswain and Mark England were joined by very welcome new member Mike Taynton, also really well known in these parts as a talented and successful player when his isn't in his role as a professional poker dealer at the Genting International.
It was a bit of a rollercoaster for the team - Phil fired two bullets without success, getting coolered with straight over straight on the second one, Jeremy was very up and down but eventually bust late on, and Mike went down to 8k from a starting stack of 25k in the first few levels and managed to grind it right back before running into a succession of unfortunate rivers.
Susan was really patient and was very unlucky when Mark England was moved to her table and took a big pot straight away with queen ten on a queen-jack-ten blank blank board. She has sensibly refused to tell me what she had but I'm guessing either king queen or jack ten. Unlucky with either of those. She successfully played push fold poker and held on for a long time before eventually three-bet jamming tens and running into jacks; she hit a ten on the flop but her opponent hit a jack on the river. Super unlucky. Mark had made a great start which got even better when Mike came and railed him after his unlucky bust out and was a complete lucky charm: Mark got dealt ace king four times in about eight hands, hit every flop including knocking out a short stack with ace queen, and literally couldn't stack his chips fast enough before raking the next pot. That took him to about 75k when the average was about half that. He then went completely dead until moved to Susan's table, which then broke soon afterwards and he was hardly dealt another playable hand all night and had to watch his decent stack dribble away. A few missed draws and unluckily doubling up the super short stacks in position and his final 9 big blinds went in with king ten blind vs blind. The big blind woke up with ace queen and that was that, ten minutes before the end of day 1 after nine hours or so.
So it was only Matt who made it through to day 2 on Sunday with a short but playable stack of 56k and we wish him all the best with grinding it up. 
BB  25/50 Team
BB 25/50 Team
Day 1A of the Goliath was played on Saturday 29th July and I think four BB players were involved. I don't have loads of details at time of writing, but new member Steven Frew, who's an excellent addition to the team - lovely bloke and a really good player with a Hendon Mob as long as your arm - got his stack to an impressive 140k which was above double average at the time, despite apparently three betting by mistake at one point (I'd like to know the details of this; sound amusing) then never saw another hand and bust in the penultimate level. He'll be back later in the week. Phil Stein I think fired 2 bullets without success and is trying again on Sunday.
Mark Cooper and Reem Ahmed had much better days. It looks like Mark made consistent progress and ended the day bagging 183k which will be well above average. Reem went a bit better yet and was among the chip leaders in the room from early on in the day, eventually bagging an impressive 210k. There are several other BB players firing their first bullets on Sunday too: I've seen reports of Will Messenger and Jago Glenister, and Jeremy and Susan are in again I understand too, and there may be others who I'm not aware of yet too! We wish them the best of luck - check back here for results and updates.
Mark and chip porn
Mark and chip porn