See previous entry "Luton Final Results."
See next entry "Leeds, Bristol and Scotland"

National final!

Our National Final for the 2007-08 season was held this Saturday (13th of September) and what a day it was! We had over 150 runners in the tournament which lasted an amazing nine and a half hours!

Our team turned at the Grosvenor in Walsall just before 12 and were greeted by a crowd of eager players. When the doors opened at noon, there was already a queue out the door!

Mind your heads!

There were three Grosvenor staff ready and waiting to sign players in, so the queues moved quickly and people moved inside to the casino floor, which was brighter than outside!

The calm before the storm

As we started signing players into the tournament, the casino floor started to fill up. There were plenty of places to sit and watch the telly or have a quick gamble while we waited for registration to finish.

Man Utd vs Liverpool I think?

Soon it was 2 O'Clock and time to get underway. There was a slight delay on the tournament's start due to the hefty number of runners and a couple of players who had not confirmed with us beforehand who had to be logged in. Dave warmed himself up for his introductory speech while we waited for all of our 155 players to find their seats at the seventeen tables laid out for us by Grosvenor's Card Room Manager, Zack.

A chip and a chair? Does it have to be MY chair?

After Dave read out a few notices, the rules of the tournament and what everyone was playing for, a blanket of silence came over the room as play began and everyone put on their poker face. This silence was quickly filled by the deafening sound of 150 people all clicking their chips at once, the National Final had begun!

And they're off!
Oh dear, that bad already?

Our first rebuy of the tournament came on the very first hand. Sometimes going all in straight away isn't the best option, even if you have got Ace King. Soon players were falling thick and fast and the Grosvenor staff were running from table to table handing out rebuys!

I'll have some chips and some chips please. Ta.

Soon we started losing players, starting with Ian Read. Poor Ian suffered a string of terrible bad beats an was knocked out two minutes before the first break. We've recorded a full interview with Ian which we will be posting here on the site soon, along with lots more footage of the final, so keep your eyes peeled for that! First out might have been Radi Al-Aqqad, who was 40p short for the rebuy! After some kindness from strangers he managed to find the cash and get back in the game and eventually finished a much more respectable 108th.

It wasn't all bad for the players dropping out as our friends from Gambling Online magazine were at the sign-out table handing out free subscriptions to their excellent magazine to help soften the blow. There were also additional tournaments being held over the day including a rookies tournament and a £20 deepstack tournament, so there was plenty to keep people entertained.

Better luck next time chaps, well done for making it this far!

After our first break we removed the chip stacks for the players who had failed to make an appearance and there was some breaking of tables as the first few players went out. Play was really heating up now with the average chip stack rising to over 5000 per player. Many of the weaker players started playing much more agressively, though it didn't go that well for all of them as there was soon a queue at the sign-out table all grumbling about bad beats.

As the day moved on some of our players who had been knocked out of the tournament early joined Grosvenor's Rookies tournament held in the adjacent card room, which I'm told got rather warm (no-one thought to turn on the air-con clearly) and the Grosvenor staff started signing up players for side games.

Surely it can't be that bad...?

By around 8pm we were down to just under 50 players, with over 100 now sitting by the sidelines including returning champion Sean Weir! Table numbers were dwindling and chip stacks were increasing in magnitude. By this point the blinds were quite high and the running ante had been in force for some time and the players were feeling it. By 9pm we were down to the last 30 players, including our final female player!

Finally we were reduced to our last two tables. The Grosvenor staff called a break and moved the players from the corner of the room to the adjacent card room to make room for the large deep stack tournament that was about to begin. We got a quick update from our side game players, including a very pleased young lady (who asked us not to mention her name) who walked away with over £50 in cash!

The final twenty-two players returned from the break and marked the start of some very tense play. Only nine players would be allowed through to the final table, so all players were careful to keep the numbers on the tables fair, eventually going hand-for-hand between the tables to make sure no-one got blinded out unfairly.

Notice the Chelsea players on the TV sending subliminal messages to our players. Nice try guys, but they're too absorbed to notice!

Eventually it came down to five players on each table with the unfortunate Chris Latimer being the last to drop before everyone bailed out of the room for the final break.

Ooh it's tense...

The final remaining players were as follows:

Seat 1: Mark Watkiss
Seat 2: Gareth Jones
Seat 3: Shloke Anand
Seat 4: Rob Cockerill
Seat 5: David Winslade
Seat 6: Avneet Benning
Seat 7: Cavan Lowe
Seat 8: Ed Best
Seat 9: Perry Hemus

There you go guys, your names up in lights. Not very bright ones, but still lights.

Grosvenor announced the final table and we moved back out of the card room and onto the table closest to the centre of the casino floor. A big crowd gathered to watch, including a large number of people not even part of the league!

Look at that concentration.

The players sat down and took a quick appraisal of each other's chips. Gareth Jones had a clear chip advantage coming in, with Avneet Benning far behind. Meanwhile David Winslade and Ed Best had barely got two chips to click together.

Despite this, Perry Hemus was the unlucky player to be first out at twenty past ten after holding out for fifteen minutes. Perry bowed out gracefully shaking hands with a smile on his face.

Bye Perry. Better luck next time.

Barely five minutes later it was Rob Cockerill's turn to walk away when his cards simply didn't hold up, closely followed by Cav Lowe, who managed to dodge our cameras to make his escape.

Poor Rob ran out of chips before he ran out of guts. Not the best way to be.

Now we were in bubble territory, with six players left and five prizes, but only one player looked tense. David Winslade had only five chips left on the table, less than a third of that of the also short stacked Ed Best.

Thats... thats not a lot of chips

Things were not going well for David and to top it all off he'd missed his lift, so he went all in...

Eight King unsuited? Could be worse I guess.

Jammy git.

...and won! Not much admittedly, but he was still in. Blinds at this point were at the 20,000/40,000 mark, so that chip stack wouldn't last long. Soon David was forced to go all in again...

Jack King unsuited. They're getting better...

And so is his chip stack!

...and again...

Ace King! Now we're talking!

Thats actually starting to look respectable now.

...and just kept on winning! No longer the bottom rung, Ed Best and Mark Watkiss were now feeling the pressure. We had been on six players for the better part of an hour and their chip stacks had suffered. Suddenly, after fourty-five minutes of near stalemate, both Ed and Mark went all-in on the same hand! Gareth Jones saw his opportunity and immediately stepped in and matched Ed's stake.

With no more bets, the cards were turned over and the five middle cards played out. Face up in the centre were the King of Hearts, the Ace of Clubs, the Three of Clubs, the Ten of Clubs and the Jack of Diamonds.

Ed Best had pocket Sevens...

Not as lucky as you'd think.

...Mark Watkiss had pocket nines...

Better than sevens...

...but sitting there on the table were Gareth's Ace and Queen. He'd made a straight on the River and knocked two players out in one hand!


So despite having the better hand going in, Mark Watkiss came out sixth behind Ed Best, who walked away with the 5th place prize of a buy-in to a GUKPT tournament worth £110.50. Congratulations to Ed, better luck next time Mark.

Cheer up Mark.

By this point Gareth had firmly re-established his chip lead and started cracking heads. First to fall was David, who couldn't be too upset to have survived through to fourth place despite his large chip deficit, earning himself a £275 buy-in to a GUKPT tournament.

Bye Dave, hope you do even better in your GUKPT tournament!

Finally came the last real contest of the tournament between Avneet Benning and Shloke Anand, both competing for second place. In the end there can only be one (almost) winner, and Avneet dropped out in third place scoring a £550 GUKPT buy-in.

Well done Avneet! See you next time.

So now it was just Gareth Jones, who had travelled all the way from the Pen-y-Bryn in Wales, and Shloke Anand, one of the youngest players in the tournament at just 18 years old, left.

I wouldn't bet against Gareth here.

Shloke was just a little bit up the creek, barely making it a full minute before being finished off. Still, Shloke took the cash alternative for second place and walked away with £1000 in his pocket, which should help with his college fees!

That means that our Champions Poker League National Champions for the 2007-08 year is Gareth Jones!

Well done Gareth!

Our full set of photos (over 200) is now available in the Gallery section, with more on their way. We hope to have our videos we were taking on the day up relatively soon, so check back for those. The full list of players and their positions is as follows:

1. Gareth Jones
2. Shloke Anand
3. Avneet Benning
4. David Winslade
5. Ed Best
6. Mark Watkiss
7. Cav Lowe
8. Rob Cockerill
9. Perry Hemus
10. Chris Latimer
11. Dean Cartwright
12. Anthony Turner
13. Will Hunt
14. Adam Bailey
15. Adam Bassett
16. Chas Whitelaw
17. Jack Allonby
18. Dave Dillow
19. Rob Edwards
20. Kerry Turner
21. Simon Ellis
22. Alan Bridges
23. Diane Evans
24. James Cochrane
25. Peter Pierce
26. Brian Plumb
27. Dave Storey
28. Dave Bridge
29. Max Evans
30. Ben Yeomans
31. Mark Hodgkinson
32. Kevin Fullard
33. Ste Dalley
34. Rhian Cooling
35. Tim Edghill
36. Magdalena Bednarski
37. Steve Ellerby
38. Ryan Banwell
39. Simon Greene
40. Steven Roberts
41. Bryony Little
42. Paul Eversden
43. Neil Johnson
44. Joanne McIwaine
45. Aaron Dodd
46. Paul Kersey
47. Vic Isaac
48. Joy Miller
49. Darren Syer
50. Sean Weir
51. Warren Allen
52. Craig Fry
53. Andy Cairns
54. Andy Clarke
55. Dave Whyle
56. John Canavan
57. Tony Robinson
58. Dave Cohen
59. Shaun Kynaston
60. Jaimie Everitt
61. Stephen Whelbourn
62. Rees Watson
63. Adam Edghill
64. Nick France
65. Bertrand Robert
66. Steve Grainger
67. Arwel Jones
68. Rob Garvin
69. Rob Hurst
70. Paul Dew
71. Karen Scougall
72. Duncan Wilkie
73. Justin Evans
74. Simon Whitehead
75. Andrew Gott
76. Symone Woon
77. Scott Tilley
78. Laurence Clyne
79. Richard Morgan
80. Ross Talbot
81. Kwai Mok
82. Martin Coleman
83. Paul Stone
84. Larry Yeley
85. Adam Butler
86. Stephen Mitchell
87. Colin Liggins
88. Brian Goffart
89. Clare Prentice
90. David Leigh
91. Paul Dare
92. Tony Louka
93. Ben Bryce
94. Marc Cumming
95. Penny Stirland
96. Jo Dee
97. Andy Ritchie
98. John Edwards
99. Stephen Sault
100. Robert Curran
101. John Shenton
102. Pete Bibbings
103. Darren Wright
104. Alan Foster
105. Elizabeth Williams
106. Phil Coyle
107. Alex Watkiss
108. Radi Al-Aqqad
109. Danny Moore
110. Ian Sheldon
111. Heather Carter
112. Mark Broomhall
113. Chris Nicol
114. Steven Burnard
115. Luisa Tarczynski
116. Bob Snowball
117. John Mainland
118. Jonathan Stewart
119. Allister Williams
120. Iain O’Neil
121. Nic Skellington
122. Darren Fletcher
123. Clair O’Keeffe
124. Craig Knight
125. Dave Clark
126. Ed Thompson
127. Guy Stansfield
128. Charles Wetton
129. Samantha Brackenbury
130. Richard Massey
131. Rebecca Pimblott
132. Adrian Bensley
133. Daren Foley
134. Alan Hodgkinson
135. Brett McKay
136. Kerry Burns
137. Tom Herbert
138. Gavin Roberts
139. Wayne Turner
140. James Hogg
141. Ian Read

14 people sloped off without signing out, so if your name isn't on the list make sure you sign out next time!

Overall it was a great day and thanks to all the people who let us know that on the day! We'll see you all soon at the Quarterly Finals!