Outside the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, poker tournaments usually don't have fields in the thousands. That said, once per year, the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) holds a huge tournament in the United Kingdom called The Goliath, and this year's version proved to massive.
This year's Goliath, which featured a £120 buy-in, was gargantuan as 4,120 entries (2,764 unique players participate) were taken over the course of seven starting days, which smashed the £250,000 guarantee by creating a £421,000 prize pool. Of that, £75,800 was reserved for the winner.
On Sunday, August 16, the final day's action took place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The field had been reduced to two eight-handed tables, and it was Leeds' Shane "AJKMoscow" Mossop who was the man to catch, having ended Day 2 with a colossal 12,980,000 stack.
Play restarted at 12 p.m. and over the next three hours "Mr G", Tom Runnacles, Charlie Godwin, Adam Clarke, Adam Wilson, Matt Harris and Sunny Mistri all hit the rail to establish the final table of nine.
2015 GUKPT Goliath Final Table
Within minutes of the final table action commencing, Miikka Toikka opened the betting with a min-raise to 800,000 and Grant Ferguson three-bet all in for 2.7 million. Ben Boulden cold-called from the big blind and Toikka called. A flop reading saw Boulden check, Toikka bet a million and Boulden call. Both players then checked the turn before Boulden fired a 2-million bet on the river, a bet that Toikka snap-called.
Ferguson showed the for ace-high, Boulden for a pair of aces, and Toikka the for trip kings. Ferguson busted in ninth place while Toikka soared to more than 30 million chips.
Amazingly, the start-of-the-day chip leader was eliminated just 10 minutes later.
It happened when Mossop open-shoved for 2.8 million from the button with the and found himself facing the of Katie Swift, who had reshoved from the small blind. The queens remained the best hand on the flop as well as the turn. The river improved Mossop to a set of queens, but it also gifted Swift a flush!
Ben Boulden's tournament then came crashing down in two short hands. The first saw him lose all but four big blinds when his couldn't get there against Ryan Meager's , and then the rest of Boulden's stack went into the middle with the versus the of Meager. A final board reading was enough to send Boulden to the rail in seventh place.
The sixth-place finisher was Andrew James whose exit hand started with him completing his small blind and Sunil Moti checking his option. James then led for 2 million on the flop and Moti called. Both players tapped the table and checked the turn before James bet all in for 3.4 million on the river. Moti instantly called and turned over for a straight, crushing the of James.
James's seat hadn't even gone cold when Phil Bain exited in fifth place. Bain pushed all in for slightly less than 10 big blinds with the and found a caller in the shape of Meager, who held the . James' hand failed to melt his opponent's snowmen as the five community cards fell .
The final four players paused the tournament and discussed a potential deal, which was eventually reached. They decided to take £5,000 from first place and add it to fourth, meaning the least anyone was taking home was £25,200.
That sum is now in the bank account of Moti, who called an all-in bet with the on the turn of the board only to be shown by Toikka. Moti was drawing dead and when the completed the board he made a beeline for the exit.
Meager's tournament ended with a third-place finish and £29,050 in a cooler hand. Toikka raised to 2.5 million and then instantly called when Meager three-bet all in for 20 million. Meager showed the and was trailing the of Toikka. Those kings held as the dealer spread the community cards to send the tournament into the heads-up stage.
Heads-up play was short and sweet thanks to it being a real "David and Goliath" affair, quite fitting considering the tournament's name. Toikka went into heads-up with 95 million chips compared to the 9.5 million of Swift.
On the second hand of heads-up play, Swift moved all in with the and Toikka called with . Both players improved to a pair on the flop, but it was Toikka who had one hand on the trophy. The turn was no help to Swift, and neither was the river, which sent her to the rail and left Toikka, who works as an IT Professional, as the 2015 Goliath champion.
2015 GUKPT Goliath Final Table Results