Tuesday 3 February 2009


By Mick McCloskey

The good.
I spent the first weekend of 2009 in Galway at the Party Poker Irish Poker Championship. Although the numbers were down a little from last year, probably a sign of things to come in these times of economic uncertainty, the organisers really put on a show which they can be proud of. The venue was first class as was the poker room and the nightly buffet in the hotel’s main restaurant. In addition, they laid on a players party the night before the main event and the party atmosphere continued every night of the festival with a rock band playing and the bar remaining open well into the wee small hours. There were also regular guest performers, such as the Devilfish and American Kenna James, in action most nights. The TV feature table was placed in a set made up to look like a typical Irish pub. Recordings from the tournament are already being shown in a series being screened on Sunday nights by Irish broadcaster RTE and will be shown later, via satellite and cable channels, on ITV4.

The bad,
Well, I managed to get busted out of the main event fairly early when I ran my pocket Queens into 5, 7 and then lost the rest of my stack when I flopped top two pair and ran into a set. So I decided to have a night out in Galway with a friend to try to cheer myself up. After walking through the town centre for at least 45 minutes, looking for a Chinese restaurant, we eventually found what must rank as the worst one in the whole of County Galway never mind the city. It advertised itself as a restaurant but it was really more of a semi store room with a couple of tables, behind the take away. The food was actually quite good but we were alone in the place for the duration of our visit, apart that is from the cooks walking through every time they had a takeaway order ready. On the way back, we found that we had walked right past what looked to be a really good Chinese restaurant, doh! Trouble was, it was situated upstairs on the 1st floor and had only a small entrance on the ground floor. So anyway, we were looking for a pub with some music on the way back but the first few places we found were totally packed out. We eventually found one with a bit of space and somewhere to sit. Unfortunately, the singer/ guitar player, with a drum/rhythm machine for backing, didn’t have a note in his head and we discovered we had also found, probably the worst music pub in Galway! It just wasn’t my day.

The ugly.
Most poker players in Ireland will probably have heard about the discrepancy in the chip counts on day two of the main event. It appears that, at least one player had managed to get his hands on and introduce some high denomination chips into the tournament. It was discovered that there were around 135,000 more chips in play than there should have been. The tournament was suspended while an investigation was carried out. The suspicion, rightly or wrongly, fell on one particular player but, unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to be 100% sure that this player was involved and should be asked to leave the tournament. While the physical security of the tournament chips seems to have been compromised, it is really disgusting that whoever was responsible for introducing the chips seems to have gotten away with it.

Poker tournaments in Ireland have rightly earned an excellent reputation over the last few years and it would be a real shame if this reputation was to be damaged by the despicable actions of one individual. The timing could not really have been worse, with player numbers seeming to be falling due to economic conditions. Let’s hope that this unsavoury incident does not damage future events. Tournament organisers must do all in their power to ensure that lessons are learned and that there is no possibility of a repeat episode of this sort.

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Because of the situation, the organisers decided to donate €28,000, the approximate cash value of the extra chips discovered to be in play, to Padraig Parkinson’s Charity tournament for the homeless. Players who played in the main event were able to play the charity tournament for €100 instead of the advertised €330. Around €60,000 was raised for the nominated charities.


After the glut of tournaments at the end of 2008, there seem to be no major events in the pipeline right now for February and March. By the time you read this, the European Deep stacks event in Dublin will probably be done and dusted.

The next major event on the horizon is, of course, the Paddy Power Irish Open, being held over Easter weekend at the City West Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. Satellites for seats and hotel and travel packages are currently running on various internet poker sites. Paddy Power’s own site are running a promotion for their online qualifiers which has a €100,000 value prize for the last man standing in the main event, made up of cash and tournament entries. Happily I have already qualified for this. What am I going to do with myself on Sunday evenings between now and Easter?
Paddy Power.com has also announced that online registration is now available through their Irish Open website.

Roy “The Boy” Brindley has been in touch to let me know that his autobiography, entitled “Life’s a Gamble” is being published and will go on sale in all major book stores on 26th February.

If you have any news, views or events, you can contact me by email to mickymccloskey@hotmail.com