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Top-ranked European player a Goodwin indeed
Marc Goodwin first came to prominence back in 2005 when he finished third in the Monte Carlo Millions behind Paul Jackson and Phil Ivey.
A great 2008, in Europe at least, led to his not only capturing the GUKPT Rankings, but also winning the prestigious European Rankings, which made him the No. 1 tournament player in Europe for 2008.
It wasn't a cakewalk for Goodwin, though, by any means. He explained how the result in Monte Carlo contributed to tilting him slightly.
"The problem I had was that was like my second big tournament and I won $375,000 and thought 'Wow, this is happening every week.' Then all of a sudden it [takes] longer and longer until you win anything [in terms of] any large amounts of money."
He conceded, "I'm not on about the difficulty of it, because it's [been as] hard to win some of the ones I've won for £8,000 as some of the bigger ones. I had won side events with 250 runners, three or four of them, picking up £10,000 or £12,000, but never the big prize. "
But in April Goodwin sat down to the felt at the Manchester GUKPT and dominated the tournament, becoming chip leader after the first day and never relinquishing that status. That meant he claimed the event that his good friend Dave Colclough had won the year previously.
It was something of a turning point for him on the U.K. circuit, Goodwin noted. "2008 was not a good year up until that point - before that I'd only had one cash."
The next day, he came third in the Party Poker World Open for $60,000.
But despite all this success on home soil, trans-Atlantic trips proved frustrating. "I followed on from there to the WSOP and had my worst World Series ever. But that was down to my own head problems as much as anything - most people have in them an 'A' game to an 'E' game. I've probably got an 'A' game to a 'W' or a 'Z' game!"
So does he really play badly sometimes then?
"Yes, and knowingly so. Sometimes my hand just takes over from my head and the chips just go in, even when I know it's absolutely diabolical. That's something I'm trying to iron out of my game; it's just difficult."
But after the World Series, everything started flowing Goodwin's way again. Another side-event win, combined with consistent final tables post-WSOP, took him ahead of Nik Persaud to claim the U.K. rankings win, before finishing the year top of the European rankings as well.
"It was great to win the GUKPT rankings; then I had a great shot at winning the Champion of Champions event. I came third in that because I lost with A-K to K-9. To win that would've been a real feather in my cap.
"To end up winning the overall European rankings as well was fantastic. It was just nice to have done it. Only a handful of people are ever going to do it during the time period I'm going to play poker, and I'm one of them. The fact that it was of no monetary value is by-the-by - if you had told me to try and win it for nothing I would have still tried."
The European rankings, though, are a funny beast: in a game that's all about winning money, a classification that yields no cash reward is seen as one of the most prestigious attainments in European poker.
Near the end of the calendar year, those in the running for the No. 1 spot will play just about any tournament anywhere to give themselves a chance to come out on top, including playing over the Christmas period. That often leads to some crunches in the pros' schedules.
Said Goodwin, "I had to go to Southend just after Christmas for the last tournament of the year. Neil [Channing] and Dave Penly could both catch me and of course, they were both there! I didn't want to go, but I thought that if they beat me just because I [hadn't] been there and given myself that chance ... Fortunately we all got knocked out, though!"
So what are Goodwin's plans for 2009?
"Well, I've been sponsored all the other years, but as it stands this year, I'm not sponsored. I was with Mansion Poker last year. My Mansion deal would've continued but their budget has gone more towards Asia than it has towards Europe. Consequently I would've had to follow that path, and we've [parted] on very amicable grounds.
"I would say they've had a change in budget direction, so they've gone for different income streams than they had before. And I could move with that flow, but that doesn't suit me with my family. I'd have to live in Asia basically. I had been with Mansion two years; I had another year left, but they've been very generous and I've got nothing but good words to say about them."
So the constant jet-setting life seems to be on hiatus, and Goodwin appears quite comfortable staying on the U.K. scene, with occasional forays into the EPT.
"I haven't put myself out there yet to look for another sponsor. I know it might be difficult and if I don't get one then I'll play less and if I do then I'll probably be a lot more U.K.-based. I'm not going to be traveling the globe anymore - I'll do my Vegas stint, but I won't be doing two months in Vegas, I might just do three weeks."
And as for the EPTs?
"I'll be trying to qualify online. I might get a sponsor to put me in a few of them, or maybe win a bit of cash and decide to reinvest a little, but I won't be playing to the extent where I've got a full calendar year. I'll be taking it tournament by tournament."