Friday 9 October 2009



By Mick McCloskey

Following the last few years of dramatic growth in Irish poker tournaments, I can now reveal that things are about to get even bigger on the Irish poker scene. The biggest online site in the world, Poker Stars, has teamed up with Irish Poker Events to take over sponsorship of the Irish Poker Championship as part of a larger planned Irish Poker Tour. The IPC, originally held at the City West Hotel, Dublin has been held in Galway at the beginning of January for the last two years. The venue remains Galway and the buy in remains unchanged at €2,000 but the tournament dates have been brought forward to the 10th to 14th December 2009. The main reason for the date change is to avoid the IPC clashing with the Poker Stars PCA, which is traditionally held in the Bahamas at the beginning of January. Poker Stars will, naturally, want to bring some of their big name sponsored pros and celebs to Galway. I spoke to Irish Poker Events supremo, Fintan Gavin, who confirmed that an official announcement to this effect will be made at the start of the London EPT at the beginning of October, so all the details should be made public by the time you read this. Poker Stars will, of course, run online satellites for the IPC and subsequent Irish Tour events and the IPC winner will receive an additional prize of entry into next year’s London EPT. Two other Tour events are planned right now, a €1,500 event in Killarney from 23rd to 27th June 2010 and another €2,000 event planned for Dublin next September. Poker Stars are involved with a number of national poker tours around Europe, in addition to International tours covering most parts of the world, and bring a wealth of experience and, perhaps more importantly, a large number of online qualifiers to all of their events.

Unofficially, I understand that the Irish events are only a part of a much bigger UK and Irish Poker Tour currently being planned by Poker Stars. Expect further developments on this front. Looks like exciting times lie ahead for tournament poker on these islands.


Something not really poker related except that it happened to me on the way back from a poker tournament. I decided to break my journey to Cork in August by getting a couple of cheap flights from Dublin to Cork and back. All went well on the way down. The flight left on time from a shiny new departures terminal in Dublin Airport and actually landed early in Cork where I made my way unhindered through the arrivals area and onto the city. All was well again on the journey back, an on time departure and an early arrival in Dublin. Again a mixture of walking and standing on a moving walkway through the nice new passenger terminal in Dublin. That is until I arrived at a bottle neck made up of a mass of people waiting to get through passport control. I thought I may have taken a wrong turning somewhere but, no, I could see that all the people from my flight were standing in line with people coming in on flights from all over Europe and from the USA. Now I know some Dubliner’s would regard Cork people as almost an alien species but they do, after all, actually live in the same country so, having them pass through passport control, and through Customs as well, seemed a bit excessive. How effective passport control actually is can be a matter of dispute. When I eventually got to the front of the queue, the officer in the control booth was on the phone and I didn’t actually produce a passport. I offered him my Northern Ireland driving licence and without even asking me where I was travelling from, he waved me on through, while continuing his phone conversation! What is all that about? Does this just happen to people on flights from Cork or do the authorities at Dublin Airport treat everyone arriving on domestic flights as foreign nationals?



Who would have thought that a small buy in ($250) poker tournament that you can only enter by registering through an online poker site would set new records for numbers of entrants in Europe and indeed anywhere outside of Las Vegas, when it was held in Dublin last October? The brain child of Stephen McClean, part of the younger of three generations of a Dublin poker playing family, it really took off when he got together with Boylespoker in 2008 and between them they produced one of the most sociable and fun weekends on the poker calendar. 1,300 people, including many well known poker pros and sports celebrities, invited by the sponsors, enjoyed the weekend at the Regency Hotel in Dublin. As I write, the 2009 tournament is almost a complete sell-out and I predict that it will again set a new record for entries, outside of Las Vegas, when it is held over the weekend of 16th to 18th October.


The much larger Paddy Power Irish Winter Festival with a €1,500 + 150 buy in, takes place in the City West Hotel from 24th to 26th October. Satellites for tournament packages and seats to the main event are currently running on various online sites and live in poker venues around the country


Just a reminder that the Mini WSOP takes place in the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin from 6th to 8th November. The €350 main event has a 30,000 starting stack and will mirror the WSOP main event structure, apart from the levels which will start at 45 minutes, rising to 60 minutes. A full schedule of deep stack events will run over the weekend. Full details can be found at


Congratulations to Donegal man, Dermot Blaine, who took down the top prize in the Poker Stars Asian Pacific Poker Tour in Macau at the end of August. Dermot won over 4.2 million Hong Kong dollars, equivalent to around US $540,000. A nice chunk of change in any currency. Well played sir.

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