Three nights in 'Coventry!' August 2018
The Goliath 2018 had a prize pool of a guaranteed £500,000 and a guaranteed 1st prize of £100,000.
It is the biggest poker tournament outside of the World Series of Poker in America wit over 6,000 entries. To progress you would need to play a minimum of 3 days of Poker culminating in the final on Sunday 5th August.
This Campervan adventure might not appeal to all, but once again it proved to be a ridiculously entertaining (and exhausting) few days, not down to the poker but purely down to the people involved, the discussions that took place and the situations that occurred.
For me the adventure took place between Tuesday 31stJuly and Friday 3rdAugust 2018.
We play in large local poker community and have developed some great friendships over the years. There were about a dozen of us going up to Coventry for this event and we were generally split into 3 camps, those you wanted to stay in the Hilton hotel next to the Casino, the majority who had opted for a part share in a local..ish 5 bedroomed Air BnB and one lonesome traveler who thought a Campervan would make for an entertaining experience.
I left on the Tuesday afternoon, arriving in Coventry around 5pm. I’d considered 4 options for parking and sleeping in the Van. (1) A local campsite £18 a night including hookup (2) Outside the Air BnB house (3) In a quiet area near the Casino or (4) In the Casino car park.
My biggest concerns were break-ins and needing the loo at short notice. At the Casino car park entrance I asked the one toothed cartoon T-shirt wearing attendant how much the car park was and he informed me it was free for those playing the Goliath – sorted – I then said I needed somewhere to sleep and he recommend the hotel next door. I explained further that what I actually meant was I needed somewhere to sleep in my Van. He said that the car park should be fine so long as I was out by Friday as Coventry City were playing at home and the car park would be needed for match day.
I tentatively drove over to the far side of the car park into the more secluded area more likely to get burgled but less likely to get harassed by drunken casino leavers at 3am! And that was by far the best decision of the next 3 days as events later that day were to prove!!
Early in the week and only 2 from our gang were currently playing in the event and having check up to see how they were getting on I left the main hall only to bump into ‘The Fox’.
The Fox is one of the central characters of players in our poker collective. He is a very successful, mature, 53 year old businessman. He only started to play and learn the game around 4 years ago – but – he fully committed himself to learning everything he could about the game. In the early days he would turn up at our local friendly club games with notebook in hand, much to the entertainment and ribbing from others and he would document all the hands he played, who he played them against and the outcome. This allowed him to go away afterwards and create templates on all the players and knowledge of how to develop his own skills.
As time went by he bought books, took courses, employed coaches and pushed on until he became a major local force in the game, quickly stacking up results and collecting a level of prize money not seen before from local players. His dedication was impressive and an example of how to truly develop from nothing to a player of great skill.
In the last 4 years alone his earnings from poker have topped over £100,000.
The fox however, like many poker players, is very much a Marmite type person. You either buy into him or create often an instant dislike to him. He is the player out of all of us most likely to abuse other players for playing badly, berate dealers, take offence at Tournament Directors and get awarded yellow cards at the table or even get himself disqualified. He has no problem telling you that you are shit and should learn the game. When you meet The Fox you are either with him of against him and even when you are with him he is always just one comment away from pissing you off. All that said, he is a very honourable man, a friend, a decent character and someone I would CHOOSE to spend time with.
Why ‘The Fox’? Well a fox is often described as ‘wily, cruel, cunning and intelligent’ and this player can certainly be all of those.
Before we set about playing poker, The Fox invited me to join him for a drink. We sat down discussed the various events in the days ahead and agreed that evening on three things (1) To take part in a little side event for £38 to warm up (2) To play some cash tables later if we went out early and (3) To team up in the “Tag team” event Wednesday night if our Goliath entry on the Wednesday came to an early end. That first pint of cider went down a treat.
Event 1: Felt like 'Donkeys' Wild
The Tuesday night event was a shocker. In hindsight it was filled with players who had been in the main Goliath event all day and had been eliminated possibly playing tight and just wanted some fun in the evening. The level of play was poor, players were playing any cards and coupled with only a few chips and quick blind levels made for a reasonably poor experience.
Cash Session 1: Cider £55 a pint!
Bought in for £100. Played well and my stack rose steadily to £275 within a few hours. Feeling good I then I made my first BAD decision of the adventure and decided upon cider. This was followed by a few more ciders (well 5 to be precise) and whilst I felt exceedingly jolly never noticed or acknowledged that my disciplined and profitable style had turned into that of a dribbling incoherent wreck. A few hours later those 5 ciders had cost me my £275 stack equating to £55 a pint – puch! Taxi for one!!
Dejected but Cider happy I wondered back to my Camper around 11:30pm to fall into a sound but rather nervous sleep hoping they’d be no loonies out looking for some post Casino high-jinx.
Outrageous Post Casino High-Jinx – 1.30am
I awoke a little jaded around 8am, I picked up my phone, opened Facebook for an update on how everyone else had gotten on and was met by possibly the best Facebook post of 2018, written by The Fox around 1:30am.
Remember at this stage that The Fox is a mature 53 year old, highly respected businessman - coupled with the fact the potentially the most terrifying thing a Campervan occupant can experience is unwanted happenings during the night.
The Facebook post went as follows:
“OMG.. just finished playing cash so walking through the casino car park to get my belongings from my car and head into the Casino hotel when I see Twu’s campavan parked up in the empty part of the car park.
I’ve been on the rum and cokes all night and won some money so feeling a little boisterous I creep up and start banging on the windows and shouting “no pikeys allowed in this car park” No response, so I start shaking the side of the van from side to side for a laugh.
The lights go on and there’s some movements - a petrified old man and his wife pull the curtains back and the women starts screaming... Whooops wrong campavan”
On realising his mistake he then ran from the scene.
This morning that Campervan has likely been put up for sale.
I pottered about for an hour getting the van back into ‘daytime’ shape, then wandered across to the Casino around 9am to ‘freshen up’ for the day, courtesy of the large disabled toilet. The walk to the casino was around 300m and I noticed half way across the car park two lads sitting in their car covered from their bald heads to toe in tattoos. They were staring at me intently with half smiles on their faces. I immediately looked away now wondering if my Campervan would still be there upon my return.
I returned to my Camper about 30 mins later and was delighted to see the two lads had driven over and had parked up in the otherwise empty section of the car park 3 spaces away from my van. Now I was concerned if sleeping in the van alone for another night was the right move in a Casino car park. The concern heightened as the proceeded to strike up a conversation, complimenting the van and asking how much it cost and how they’d take it off my hands if they won some money that day. Thinking on my toes I told them there were 3 of us staying in it and it was just a bit of a laugh and had only cost me less than £10k as it had plenty of miles on it etc.. All lies of course but I had to give the impression it was nothing much.
Literally at that moment, a white Audi pulled up in front of the van and the beaming smiling face of “The Bear” was poking out of the drivers window. “Hello mate” he said.
Bears can be described as many things. “The dumb, dopey, lazy, but loveable bear, The cuddly, sweet bear, The strong and vicious bear”. This friend possibly fits the “I’m a sizeable military bear, tall in stature, large in build, charming, yet perfectly capable of looking after myself – and my mates – friendly yet formidable… so don’t fuck.”
In fact the perfect bear for this very moment in life. Thank you Lord #1!
“I’m up here for the Goliath, I’m playing today, if I get knocked out I want to play again tomorrow so will probably sleep in my car” said The Bear.
“Well…” I said… saying “How about you crash in here, you have the comfy double bed downstairs and I’ll hop onto the upstairs bed. It’ll be much more comfortable, a bit of a laugh and its perfectly comfortable up top”.
Of course what I really meant was “Please stay here with me and protect me. These two tattooed hoodlums are planning on breaking in, murdering me, eating my corpse and stealing my Campervan. If you stay downstairs then if they do break in they’ll get you first and whist I’ll be sleeping upstairs on the uncomfortable parcel shelf I might be able to remain quiet and stay alive”.
“Wow.. you sure that’s sounds like a great idea” he said.
Ha!! Thank the Lord #2.
Wednesday Daytime: The Goliath Main Event
The Goliath from 11am started well. The table played like a table wanting to get off to a good start so I played tight waiting and waiting for anything decent to pick up a few pots here and there. I was playing well winning around 80% of the pots I entered.
The first break came and went but I was eliminated sadly just before the lunch break when the Poker Gods in consultation with the real Gods decided they’d done enough for me that day and I owed them a little pay back… and boy did they take it (all results posted at the bottom of this blog). My poker luck had also rubbed off onto The Fox who was eliminated shortly after.
Now a wise man once said “when you get eliminated from a poker tournament give yourself a bit of time before joining a cash game”… so being the buffoon I am I immediately sat down at a cash table and donated a decent amount of cash to the other happy players.
The Bear however went off on a decent run that would see him playing late into the evening.
I wandered back to my Camper for a Pot Noodle and a Cup of Earl Grey to reflect on the days performance. The Gods not content with stitching me up in the poker decided that I also deserved to starve... so they ran down my gas for me.
I sat there drinking my nice luke warm tea and crunching a half cooked pot noodle with the words of advice at the beginning of my Campervan days ringing in my ears “Make sure you carry a spare gas bottle as you don’t want it to suddenly just run out”… hmmnn I thought good advice! Bugger.
We met up with a group of friends on the Wednesday evening for a bit of posh nosh and plenty of red wine at a rather posh restaurant on the outskirts of Coventry. The main topic of conversation was the 1969 Moon Landing with 2 opposing views. One adamant it never happened. We had a collective vote and decided by 3 votes to 2 that the moon landing had in fact happened.
Having been eliminated late on, The Bear came to collect us and take us back to the hotel for The Fox and the Carpark for myself and my new roomie.
Arriving back at the van around midnight there were now a few other campervans parked up nearby along with a converted horse box and a massive Motorhome right next door.
There is something about a bit of alcohol and two boys in a Campervan that brings out the best schoolboy humour. Desperate to impress my new guest we set about popping up the roof and organising ourselves for the night ahead. Of course I came across as an incompetent buffoon, forgetting how best to remove panels to access the roof and ending up raising the roof literally with my head.
Much of the time was spent with us doubled up in childish laughter at our inability to do the simplest thing with any form of ease. There is nothing in life quite like real belly laughs and this Campervan seems to bring them out more often than anything else I can remember having done in a very very long time.
Having thought it was impossible to laugh anymore, we set about a task we wished we had done earlier in the day not in the quiet of an occupied car park with neighbours asleep - inflating the airbed. Again a simple task that should not leave two double over – again – in laughter, but when you only have a foot pump and every single press sounds like the loud dying breath of an asthmatic Alsatian on helium.
Thursday & Friday: Goliath & Jokers Wild Poker then home
You only got to play in the £60 'Jokers Wild tournament' if you were crap enough to have been dumped out early in the Goliath. So I was always going to be a shoe in for this event and my run of luck continued until I was eventually left feeling dazed, confused and thoroughly knackered from the whole adventure.
I went back to the gas deprived Camper around midnight and slept through like a baby until early the next morning where I said my fond goodbyes to the gang and headed South for home.
Three nights parked in a huge Casino car park in Coventry and what a blast. An exhausting blast but what a blast.
More presents were bestowed upon the Camper by The Bear who kindly donated 2 enamel limited edition RAF mugs. They will be used often and will help remind me of my first Goliath expedition and a truly memorable experience. Thanks all.
For those who want to know this is genuinely how my tournaments ended…
Tuesday night: Pocket 8s became a set on the flop. Bet all three streets only for the big stack to win hitting his straight on the river holding 63o
(really calling all streets with 63o just because you're bored)
Wednesday Goliath: Sat for 2 hours playing 0 hands then pick up Kings in the Cut Off only for the Button to have Aces. All in pre me – eliminated.
(so you give me FA for 2 hours then kindly give me Ks to play v As - thanks!)
Thursday Goliath: Slowly building a nice stack. Wake up with pocket Kings in the Small Blind. Go the to flop 3 handed. I flop a Full House - Flop KQQ. Turn 8. River 3. All in on river beaten by Mr Aggro holding pocket Qs!
(Outrageous. Simply outrageous)
Thursday Jokers Wild: All in pre with pocket Kings to be called by Joker + 8. Lost to a 226 flop - thus his pocket 8s became a set of 2s of course.
(Stupid game. In fact Poker is a stupid game. Thats why I love it)
All just unlucky…. But when you don’t run good there ain’t nothing you can do!!
Cash – mostly played like a drunk tilted donkey.
A publishable pictures of the trip...