Brits Abroad

The Hendon Mob, and the UK’s finest, rocked up in Monte Carlo to take on the might of the USA

Live the Dream

you’ll be hard pressed to see any woman over 60 that doesn’t look like a close relative of Cruella de Ville

Monte Carlo: the ultimate playboy’s paradise. Year-round sun and as many celebrities as you could fit in a year’s supply of Heat magazine.

An independent European state the size of New York’s Central Park, the principality of Monaco oozes wealth in the same way that London creates traffic jams or Vegas chases pipe dreams. With housing prices that would make Roman Abramovich think twice you’ll be hard pressed to see any woman over 60 that doesn’t look like a close relative of Cruella de Ville.

So what better place to host both the Monte Carlo Millions and the Full Tilt Poker Invitational in just one short November week? There really couldn’t be a better place for the cream of British poker to take on America’s big guns – let battle commence.

Where our domestic players may once have felt cowed playing no-limit Hold’em against our transatlantic rivals, a buoyant enthusiasm to step up and stick one up ’em has taken over. Which is just as well, because when you’re playing at the Monte Carlo Millions against big name US players such as Erik Seidel, Howard Lederer, Ted Forrest, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson and Phil Laak – all of whom are paying $25,000 for a shot at the $3m prize pool – there’s nowhere to hide.

Unlike the WSOP’s Main Event, where unknown Internet qualifiers make up the majority of the field, you’d be hard pressed to find many weak links at this 112-participant event. If you get to the final table it’s through hard graft and skill, with a modest dose of lady luck as well.

Sod’s law then that the big-name Brits fall at the early fences. Never able to get into their stride Dave Colclough (107), Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott (100), 2005 WSOP Main Event finalist Andrew Black (91), The Hendon Mob’s Barny and Ross Boatman (86 and 83), Demetriou (77) and John Duthie (69) all fall before the end of the first day. Shit, what do we do now? Just as we’re about to hop on a plane and pull the article, there’s a rumour going round that an Englishman, relative unknown Marc Goodwin, is chip leader and the only person with a bigger stack than Phil Ivey who, after coming third last year, seems in no mood to entertain coming anywhere other than first. What’s more, fellow Brit Paul ‘Action Jack’ Jackson, is sitting pretty in fifth, but there’s still a long way to go.

Things are looking grim though when the remaining Hendon Mob members, Joe Beevers and Ram Vaswani, fall by the wayside on day two in 40th and 38th respectively. Vaswani isn’t happy with Aussie big mouth Tony G and despite the talk of handbags at dawn they both leave the casino with teeth and kneecaps intact. The antipodean somewhat painfully makes the money.

But with little fuss and some tidy play three Brits see off some of the best players in the world to make it to the final table. Richard ‘Strummer9’ Herbert, Paul ‘Action Jack’ Jackson and Marc Goodwin are the surprise packages sitting in second, third and fourth. But the big question remains – can they grab on to Ivey’s coattails and drag him down, despite him holding $2,317,000 in chips, approximately the same chip total as all three of the Brits combined?

Of course, there are others in with a shout. Joining Ivey and the three Brits are Kenna James from California, Swede Bengt Sonnert and Indonesian-born John Juanda, who qualified through the Monte Carlo Gold consolation tournament, which awards one player – drawn from the ranks of those that have already been knocked out – a place at the final table with $160,000 (amounting to a measly 10 big blinds). With the three Brits scoring a moral victory by outnumbering the two yanks on the final table, the minutes leading up to the final table are jocular. Goodwin remains chatty and relaxed, admitting that he’s ‘not nervous about playing in the final. I just don’t want to make those calls that I really know I shouldn’t be making’.

Podium finish

Goodwin’s worry about making the wrong plays is quickly put to bed. He’s the first to get involved in serious action by knocking out Kenna James, whose trademark stetson and mirrored shades do little to save him when his pocket Threes are crippled by Goodwin’s Kings. The UK then takes scalp number two when Action Jack’s A-K dominates lucky loser Juanda’s A-6. The Brits are looking in fine shape and are enjoying the game with plenty of banter.

But all good things must come to an end and events turn sour when Richard ‘Strummer9’ Herbert raises Ivey all-in with A-5 only to see Phil flip the bullets.

At this point Ivey decides to open the throttle. He quickly wipes out Benngt with A-10 before turning his attentions to Jackson and Goodwin, who now face a huge mountain of chips to climb. Goodwin narrowly bows out to Ivey on a kicker leaving Action Jack to face Ivey alone. And despite valiant rearguard fighting, Jackson’s suited Q-J is called by Ivey’s K-Q and it holds up, the American picking up the $1m cheque, something which never really looked in doubt.

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