Friday 7 March 2008


By Mick McCloskey

I’ve been playing tournament poker in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA for quite a few years now. During my travels I have met and got to know many of the regular players on tour. With the huge growth of poker in the last two or three years, fuelled by the internet and televised events, it has become harder and harder to keep track of the new players coming onto the scene. This is no bad thing and I am certainly not complaining. The new younger players have brought a fresh attitude to the game of No Limit Hold’em which, to my mind, has changed the whole approach to modern tournament poker. To me, one of the driving forces behind these changes has been the success of John Duthie’s brain child, The European Poker Tour, supported from it’s inception by Poker I have been following the live updates from the latest EPT in Dortmund, Germany. I believe that Germany is a major growth area for live and online poker right now and this was reflected in the large number of local players who took part. Looking through the player list for Irish, British and European names that I recognised, I was not having much success. When the tournament got down to the final table, any of the few names that I did recognise had been eliminated. The new order had taken over. The only finalist who had any previous form, in the way of recorded live results more than a couple of months old, was Claudio Rinaldi from Switzerland. Indeed, I believe that some of the finalists were playing in their first live tournament! The winner of almost a million Euros, Canadian Mike McDonald, has barely finished celebrating his 18th birthday.
With the increased buy-in to EPT events, I suppose that this was bound to happen. Most of the regulars I know have been priced out of these tournaments and the field has been left open for the handful of sponsored players, the internet whizz kids and the well heeled recreational players. Even trying to qualify online for these events has become an expensive and time consuming business. I know many players who played in Seasons 1 and 2 of the EPT, who have now basically lost interest in the whole thing. The fact that it is now cheaper to play in the main event of the WSOP in Las Vegas is perhaps a telling factor.

With the Irish Open coming up this month, expected to set new records, I hope that the organisers have done with increasing the entry fee, for the time being. One of the attractions of the Irish Open has always been the social side of things. Over the years it has become an annual meeting place for all serious, and some not so serious, Irish players. The amount of the buy-in has always been within reach for the majority of the regulars. However, the buy-in has increased three fold since 2004 and is beginning to squeeze some of the long time participants. The growth of the Irish Open under the sponsorship of Paddy has been amazing. I feel that there is a fine balance between growing the Irish Open into a major international event and keeping the original feel of the tournament as Ireland’s favourite national poker event. Perhaps that point has been reached. I, for one, would not like to see the Open going the way of the EPT, where I struggle to find anyone I actually know playing in some of the heats. I think that the numbers playing in the Dublin heat of the EPT last October, where only one Irish player made the money and none made the final table, and the numbers expected to play this month in the Open, will tell their own story. Please Paddy, don’t let the Irish Open go the way of the EPT in Ireland. Keep it real.


The Munster Poker Tour, in association with Irish Eyes Poker, organised the Lakes of Killarney Festival in January. The €500 main event attracted 163 runners and paid out €81,500. Noel Magnier from Cork took €19,000 with Adam Fallon from Dublin getting €17,000. Third spot and€10,000 went to Eoin Dixon from Cork. Congratulations to all who cashed in this event.

For anyone out there who has been living in a cave, The Irish Open takes place in the City West Hotel, Dublin, from 19th to 24th March.

If you have any news, views or events, you can contact me by email to