By Mick McCloskey
One of the things that I think make Irish poker tournaments special and unique is the social aspect. Most of the major festivals are held over three or four days in nice hotels around the country. It gives the players a chance to relax and meet up with old friends and to meet new ones in surrounding and in an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable. The majority of festivals seem to fall into this category but one recent event, for me, fell a little short. The contrast between two particular events was pretty easy to measure and the solution very simple. The two tournaments were held two weeks apart, had the same level of buy in, same sort of numbers, were both held in the same Dublin hotel, The Ballsbridge Inn, but there the similarity ended when it came to the social aspect.
The first event was the Poker Stars UKIPT (718 runners) and the large bar area immediately outside the poker room did not have a single table or chair for people to sit and relax and enjoy a drink. Consequently, the room was mostly deserted over the weekend apart from people passing through or buying something from the bar.
Two weeks later at the Winamax short handed championship (656 runners), same hotel, same room and the place was buzzing with a great atmosphere. The difference? Plenty of tables and chairs around the room for people to use.
So, come on Poker Stars, some tables and chairs in the bar next time please. It’s not rocket science.
This event was an ambitious attempt to create a €50,000 prize pool from a €100 entry tournament. With 457 entries and re-entries over a number of starting days the organisers fell a little short of the 50K guarantee but paid out the advertised amount anyway. The winner, Mustafa Gultekin walked off with €11,000 with Declan O’Connor and Robert Shanley picking up €6,800 each.
The €400 + 40 Irish Omaha Championship was held as part of this festival but only managed to attract 23 entries. The winner, for €4,600, was Colm Faulkner.
EUROPEAN SHORT HANDED CHAMPIONSHIP
This festival, sponsored by Winamax, attracted 656 runners for the €500 entry 6 handed main event. The winner was England’s Steven King who took home €63,000 for his efforts. Second spot and €54,300 went to Belgium’s Michael Gathy with third spot and €34,190 going to Portugal’s Paulo Ferreira.
BETFAIR POKER LIVE
Held over the same weekend and just up the road at Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Club, this was a bounty tournament with a $600 + 50 buy in with $100 from each entry going as a bounty prize. The event was shortened to two days as there were only 73 entries. However, the structure over the two days was as player friendly as you could ever want to experience. If a certain beer company did tournament structures, this would be it.
The winner, for $12,827 was Janos Jeszek with Adam Treanor taking $7,653 for second place and Darius Dirkus picking up $5,093 for third spot.
LADBROKES IRISH POKER FESTIVAL
Held as usual in the Gleneagles Hotel, Killarney, this is always a fun weekend with plenty of entertainment laid on. This year had a slightly smaller field for the €500 main event at 569 but still exceeded the €250,000 guarantee.
The final result was anything but usual with at least three great performances deserving a mention. Firstly, the defending champion, Lars Torngren, put up a great defence of his title before exiting in 18th place when he had his pocket Aces cracked.
Second, Ladbrokes pro, Jon Kalmar, managed back to back main event final tables finishing in third place this year after finishing in forth spot in 2010.
Finally, the winner was Niall Smyth, this year’s Irish Open Champion, adding another great title to his poker CV.
The final three players actually did a three way deal taking €45,000 each and playing for an extra €10,000 and the title. The other player in the mix was Eamon Doran who finished second.
There was some talk over the weekend that the festival may be moving to a new venue next year. However, a spokesman for the Gleneagles Hotel Group told me “We are very optimistic that the event will go ahead in 2012. Discussions are ongoing and an announcement will follow soon.”
This is another one of those Irish fun poker weekends and this year’s event lived up to it’s advance billing with an increase in numbers bringing an international mix of 1,388 players to Dublin to play in the €225 main event. The starting stack was increased to 15,000 this year and with an improved structure another new twist was added to the mix. Rather than play the final table into the small hours of the morning, a WSOP main event type scenario was introduced with the last eight players meeting again on 26th November to complete the tournament, playing for a top prize of over €50,000. The venue is Ken Doherty’s Snooker and Poker Club at Terenure Cross, Dublin and a live stream will be broadcast on the day through the Boylepoker site. Friends and relatives of the “November 8” will be able to catch the action in Brady’s Pub, next door to the venue. More on the final in my next column.
Story of the tournament so far has to be the Lazarus type recovery of Irish poker veteran, Scott Gray. Scott was involved in a Boylepoker promotion which paid the top 20 players involved in the promotion an extra €1,000 on top of any prize money. Apparently, Scott was so intent on getting the extra bonus that he almost anted himself out of the tournament. After paying his ante he was forced to blind off his last 1,000 chip when the big blind was 5,000. He managed to win that pot and, at one stage ran his stack up to around 500,000 before he was eliminated in 21st place. He got the bonus by the way.
The Firzwilliam Festival is scheduled to run at the Dublin club from 23rd to 29th November with a series of events culminating in the €800 main event which includes a €60 bounty and €40 for reg. This has got to be the cheapest registration fee for any event, anywhere, considering that players usually get treated to a hot meal as part of the deal. If you know different, let me know. Full details can be found at www.fitzwilliamcardclub.com
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