Interview w/Paul Gardener

Today we have an exclusive interview with 1 of the North East’s premier poker players, commonly known as swampy for our NPF readers none other than Goldenballs himself Paul Gardener (left). Paul has a number of score’s across the UK poker circuit & win or lose Paul is a pleasure to be on the felt with always finding the funny side of every situation.

During the interview we discussed a number of interesting subjects & Paul shared his thoughts on poker, sports betting, personal achievements, & many more so here we go in the tank with Paul Gardener…enjoy.

DT “"When & how did you get started playing poker? Did you have any inspirational poker players, books, moments, shows, etc that were instrumental for you turning professional?"

PG “I first starting playing poker in 2001 after watching late night poker and to be honest I was hopeless. What fascinated me was at Teesside the same core of players kept winning so after I was out of a competition I offered to deal on the competition and observed what they were doing. I made my first final after 31 competitions and won my first one after 46 attempts. Like I said I was hopeless. However it was after about a year when I visited Newcastle for the first time that I realized there were other levels of ability, that was after watching closely two players Stevie Liu and Hamid. I almost stalked those two for about 6 months question after question "why did u do that?" etc etc until it sunk in. There is not a player in the North East who has not been influenced by these two either directly or indirectly, and it is to them I owe any success I have achieved or hope to achieve in the future. I would go as far as to say in the case of Steven he is the best tournament player I have ever seen to date"

DT “I understand your nicknamed Swampy & Goldenballs, how did these come to fruition? What’s your preference?”

PG “Swampy was a old works nickname which I now use as a forum user name. Goldenballs came about when I hit a one outer against Christine Ward to win a massive pot (6 diamonds I think to give me a straight flush) this enabled me to win the tournament. I don't mind either to be honest"

DT “1 of the most bizarre poker stories I’ve heard was regarding you down Nottingham at DTD, heading to the wrong table is 1 thing but then playing a hand without noticing your sat in the wrong seat sound’s almost inconceivable. Could only happen to you mate, how did the other players react? & how did the tournament director rule this rather unorthodox situation?”

PG “Ah the DTD story lol. Never have I been so embarrassed in all my poker life. I had gone to the toilet and just got back as the dealer was dealing. 4 6 of clubs seemed a good hand to call a small raise with and two of us seen a flop. Check check on the flop the turn bringing a club to put two clubs on the board and also a inside straight draw for me. The opponent bet I called. The river a club, I had already decided if the opponent came out betting I was just gunna call. He did indeed bet and I called only to see his higher flush. After the chips were passed to the victor I noticed the guy who was sat opposite me had turned from Chinese to Indian. A further look round the table revealed the woman with big boobs had turned into a guy with a cap and a quick look to my left Nick Slade had donked 22,000k chips into dust in 2 minutes. Then it dawned on me. I was sat in the same position but in the wrong seat as the table I should of been on was next to the one where I was sat. I owned up but the dealer asked for a ruling. I knew the ruling was instant elimination so as the dealer was shouting for Simon Trumper I was shouting for Dave the ex Newcastle dealer as I knew this was my only chance to survive. Luck was on my side Dave got there first and excluded me for a round and the chips I lost had to be taken off my stack and given to the player who's chips I had used. I did say to the player who's chips I had played with "he was very lucky I had played the hand as he would of lost the lot lol"

DT “The best hat trick ever scored?”

PG “The best hat trick ever scored was bizarre to say the least. Me and Dave Maudlin had built up a little fund on Newcastle games so I punted £200 on a hat trick to match his bizarre bet and it came in for £3900 boom”

Details can be found over Paul's Golden Blogs;

The best hatrick ever scored. (Jan 2010)

DT “On the subject of this nice score I understand you’re a very successful professional sports bettor, I myself I’m a small to medium stake’s recreational handicapper. I’ve followed your tips thread on AWOP with interest since the backend of 2009 & coupled with following James Browning’s tips I’ve had considerable success, so thanks for lining my pocket. How were you introduced to sports handicapping? Was anybody inspirational in helping you taking it so serious?”

PG “Sports betting or football betting came about after I had a long conversation with a pro better from Bournemouth. He described in great detail on how he had built up from 10k too over half a million in 5 years, his results were well documented. What I found was his research was similar to mine so basically I decided to give it a go. I’m now in my 5th year of serious betting and have been disciplined to build up a decent bankroll. This year I decided to post my selections on AWOP and currently sit on 70 points profit since august. It is very time consuming but very rewarding”

DT “I know you’ve regularly got your ipod on whilst at the felt, what sort of music do you listen to whilst playing?”

PG “My ipod holds a load of rubbish dating from 1950 to the present day, however I do like the stone roses so lots of that type of stuff”

DT “Freeze-Out, Rebuy, Double Chance?”

PG “Freeze-Out”

DT “Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough?”

PG “Newcastle (do the others have football teams?)”

DT “Breakfast, lunch, dinner?”

PG “Dinner”

DT “Favourite movie?”

PG “The Krays”

DT “Favourite & worst hold’em hands?”

PG “Favourite hold’em hands jack 4 my son is called Jason and was born on the fourth & worst hold’em hands jack 4”

DT “What do you consider your biggest ever personal poker achievement?”

PG “I have had lots of highs but if I was totally honest I think my biggest achievement in poker is to recover from going totally broke in 2004. After building a serious bankroll I lost it all through bad decisions and bad game selection, basically playing in games I couldn’t afford to play. The fact that I am here today playing poker is in it's self a achievement I am proud of. Better players than me have gone by the way side never to recover”

DT “Who’s the best person you’ve ever shared a table with? Not necessarily best poker player but best because of their personality, their fame, etc?”

PG “In 2005 I played the 4 queens classic in Vegas and for most of day two I was on the same table as Phil Hellmuth he was arrogant, brilliant and obnoxious but still a pleasure to play with . This coincidently was the only time I ever received a round of applause when geting eliminated as the last non American left in the tournament the whole room gave me a round of applause, spine tingling”

DT “I understand you’ve visited Las Vegas in the past, the saying goes “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” but our readers would be interested to hear of your Vegas misdemeanours, do you have any Vegas tails to share with us?”

PG “For 80 yrs the saying has been "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" I would not like to be the person who breaks that tradition!”

DT “I understand you were raised in Heaton before heading south to Teesside, I assume you’ll have some 1st class funny childhood or schoolboy stories which we’d love to hear?”

PG “I was brought up in Heaton, Newcastle and left Newcastle at 16. As a child I appeared in a episode of “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” albeit in a small way. In the episode where Terry is taking his driving test I am seen in the background playing on a street corner. I am the one in the red jumper for any one who “YouTubes" it. My only other notoriety is AND I SWEAR THIS IS TRUE, during the pitch invasion at St. James Park in the 1974 FA CUP INVASION I was the first fan to run on the pitch. I was only 12 and did it as a dare what followed was a massive following of invaders forcing the tie to be postponed. I was pictured in the chronicle and on shoot for my infamy"

DT “Who do you consider the greatest ever all round poker player from North East, England?”

PG “There are only 3 worthy of consideration. Stevie Liu, Hamid and Keith Hawkins. Defo Stevie Liu without a shadow of a doubt”

DT “What does 2010 hold for you? can we expect to see you around local north east poker scene & on UK circuit regular over coming months? I for 1 would like to wish you the very best of luck”

PG “I think 2009 was a hard year for me as I was very busy with a few things so poker was not the main thing on my mind. However from march 2010 I should be free to devote myself to poker 100% so hopefully I can get back to the level I was at. Two goals this year to win the £300 at DTD and win a GUKPT main event, beyond that I will be glad to still be grateful come December 2010”

DT “Thanks again for your time Paul & good luck in 2010”

PG “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who I have ever played with in the North East and "mine host" of this blog for the platform on which to air my views”

It's been a pleasure having you mate, Paul is also a fellow blogger & can be found over;

Paul's Golden Blogs

Reporting his thoughts on poker, trading, sports betting, etc. I hope you all enjoyed this insight & being in the tank with Teesside’s very own Paul “Goldenballs” Gardener.


  1. Nice interview Swampy. Really interesting read. See you next weekend mate.

  2. Quality executions of the interviews and the interviewees you're finding are making for some very good reads.

    Played with Paul a few times, in Newcastle and Bristol and is very good craic at the tables. All the best for 2010 fella.

    Admiring the amount of effort put into this blog and motivating me to spend more time on mine.

    KUTGW FTP! :)

  3. Thanks Jonny, I'm pleased you like them. I'm really excited about this section of the blog & looking to get a number of interesting people in the tank that many of our readers can relate to. Likewise I've played him a handful of times & he's always the joker of the table. Good luck, Daniel. ;-)

  4. Great read but i new it would be..
    Shame he did not tell you about the car journey and car theft on route to Blackpool last year!.. Ask him about it next time you see him!!....

  5. Car journey/theft sounds like an interesting read, I will for sure ask him about it. Hoping to be down Teesside on Saturday so I'll catch up with you then Ian, stay lucky.


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