Sunday 14 October 2007

Irish Smiling

Irish Smiling
By Mick McCloskey

I recently (October 2006) had the honour of being invited to play for Ireland in a heads up team challenge match against Great Britain. The whole event was held to raise funds for the charities Poker4charity and The One Percent Pledge. The Irish team was sponsored by Green Joker Poker and the GB team was sponsored by VCPoker. The event was held in the luxurious Opera House Casino in Scarborough. This place has no less than three bars, open all hours. We got the feeling that the GB team were trying to knobble us with the ready availability of the alcoholic refreshments. Not shy about taking up the challenge, the Irish team made full use of the bar facilities on the first night. Even though the heads up matches were played the following afternoon, the GB tactic backfired, as the Irish team emerged victorious. Despite going 3-1 down in the early stages, the best of 11 matches effectively ended 6-4 to the Irish. Although the final match between the two team captains, Mike Lacey and James Dempsey was played out, the outcome was academic. For the record, the final score was 6-5 to Ireland. This result was sweet revenge for the Irish, who had to endure an 8-3 defeat in the first challenge match in Dublin, earlier this year.
Roy Houghton and his lovely wife, Denise, were on hand to present the magnificent crystal trophy, named in honour of Roy, for his 45 years of service to the poker industry in Britain. Roy was instrumental in running tournament poker in Britain over many years, introducing new ideas such as the double chance and the grand prix format, as well as being involved in setting up and running the first Poker Million tournament in The Isle of Man in 2000. Despite having endured ill health, Roy is still involved in the poker boom and is currently involved in setting up a new poker club in London, where players will pay an annual membership fee, rather than paying rake and tournament registration fees.
After accepting the trophy, Irish captain Mike Lacey said “Last time the result did not reflect the quality of the play. This time, the heart and passion of the Irish team reaped the rewards that were deserved.”
Thanks must go to the two sponsors and to the Opera House Casino for looking after both teams so well. A special mention for Gary and Julie, the card room supervisors, who worked so hard all weekend to make sure all the events ran smoothly. Indeed, I think Julie, with Dublin connections, was secretly rooting for the Irish team. Even GB team member, J.P. Kelly, was keeping his options open by claiming dual nationality!

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