Last weekend saw one of the most entertaining events in the poker calendar – 33 teams of eight crammed into a sweaty Blackpool Grosvenor Casino for the annual APAT team event.

Blue Blood put out a strong team this year and most of us were able to meet up on Friday night for what I am reliably informed are now called ‘prinks’, which seemed to involve a really great dinner in the casino, a proper amount of wine each and then late-registering the £25 tournament en masse.

Di Farrell was seen wandering around over an hour later with a left-over bottle of prosecco and an ice bucket while moving tables – no sign of her chips, but priorities obviously correct.

Net result was that Mark England outlasted the field and chopped the last-longer bet for the second year in succession, taking £90 for 11th place and agreeing a £50/£30 split with John Burberry for the last longer.

Congrats to him.

The full team was in place in plenty of time for the photos the next day, once Liam Pickering had finally had his breakfast. It was great to see Mark Cooper and champion swimmer’s dad Steve Redfern out in their colours for the first time in a while, and especially nice that Max Ball agreed to represent Blue Blood in lieu of his much-missed father Steve.

John Burberry travelled up from East Anglia despite getting married a week later (congrats mate), Liam had managed to cadge a lift again, Di Farrell had travelled all the way from the States and Gordon McArthur is never one to be left out, generously picking up Di from the airport on the way down.

It was good to see Blue Blood members Tristan Chaplin and Dawn Cooke too, even though they were representing different teams here.

Back: L to R Gordon McArthur, Mark Cooper. Mark England, Liam Pickering,
Steve Redfern, seated L to R John Burberry, Di Farrell (capt), Max Ball

There’s a very special buzz about the APAT team championships. 264 players all proudly wearing their team colours and keen not to let their teammates down. There were no points available until 100th place so more than half the field were going to be disappointed, and it was to be many hours before we got to that stage.

Liam Pickering had a yoyo stack early and Di Farrell lost a big pot unluckily and both ultimately fell before the points, but the other six all made it past 100th and Blue Blood were actually joint leaders at this point with the Hit Squad, the only other team to get six of eight into the points. Unfortunately Mark Cooper (92nd), Mark England (89th) and John Burberry (78th) all fell quickly after the bubble – no real mistakes, running into the top of the opponents’ ranges here, so just one of those things.

It was some time later and not long before the end of play for the night when Max Ball finally fell, 66th in the end and a great effort. The others were all into their fourth pint and fifth bad beat story in the bar by then.

So just Gordon GiMac McArthur and Steve Redfern were among the 60 that came back for day 2. There were some sights to see among the tables by then – one chap had to be woken up every time it was his turn to play, and there were a couple of acquaintances of your correspondent who had last been seen literally unable to walk at about four in the morning, desperately trying to buy everyone in sight a sambuca. They didn’t look well.

Steve and GiMac were far too professional for that, of course, and were bright and breezy – GiMac knows how to spin up a short stack better than anyone and Steve went into day 2 as one of the chip leaders after a massive last hand of the day. He did tell me the details but I confess that the Guinness and Jagerbombs have wiped them from my memory. I seem to recall it was a really good play though.

In the end GiMac spun his stack all the way to 38th place and Steve, who by his own admission had had good cards day 1 could find nothing on day 2 and went out 31st. Blue Blood amassed enough points for a solid 8th from 33 in the end. Deserving winners were the Hit Squad who played really error-free poker all weekend and it was particularly nice to see Max Ball in their kit at the end, all John Terry like. He could have played for them and not for us, to be fair.

Those not still in the competition were not to be outdone – at one o’clock in the afternoon a nine-handed £1/£1 cash game was running, and five from the nine were Blue Blood members. Proper degeneracy; well done everyone. Your correspondent has to apologise to Di Farrell, who has come all the way over from the States for this event and the APAT individual championship in a couple of weeks, for taking a stack in the cash game when top pair and combo draws on the flop turned into second nut straight and inside straight flush draw on the turn, and the money went in vs her nut straight. Cheeky flush on the river. Sorry about that. Was ahead on the flop though. Di and GiMac decided that the Grosvenor evening comp was inferior to heading to the Genting up the road, which of course GiMac won. Of course. Never in doubt. Six hundred quid odd. Well played sir, well played indeed.

The tournament at the Grosvenor didn’t go as planned and soon saw Mark England, Steve Redfern and Liam Pickering in the cash game. These Blackpool boys don’t hang about, any two will do, and chips were flying around like confetti. Your correspondent saw no cards at all and was delighted to finally wake up with aces and double against kings, and quit the night – and the weekend – dead even. Walked out of the casino in the wee small hours to find Liam Pickering still playing blackjack and still not betting on perfect pairs despite all the evidence that it was winning …

So a great weekend for all. Many amusing memories – the look on the staffs’ faces in the chipshop when all these people in matching hoodies came in at once, all paid with twenty pound notes peeled from a thick wad, and then inhaled their fish and chips before literally jumping over the tables and running out again; the look on the nice lady from London’s face in the Friday night comp when she was at last moved away from the drunken Scotsman (hi, Rab) and sat next to … another drunken Scotsman; the nice young man from the Midlands seeing a couple of young ladies throwing up in the gutter at four in the morning and thinking that was an appropriate time to make a move on them – good luck with that, dude – and the look on his room-mate’s face the next morning …. but what goes on in Blackpool stays in Blackpool, I guess..

Oh, and PS: not only did John Burberry get married a week later, he also became a grandfather again six weeks early the day afterwards too (mother and baby well!). Congratulations mate.


Author BlueBlood


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