Tuesday 7 December 2010


By Mick McCloskey

Having recently initiated the British Poker Awards, Bluff Europe Magazine obviously thought it would be a good idea to have an Irish version. So it came to be at a ceremony held during the Boylepoker International Poker Open in Dublin in October. Proceedings were kicked of by warm up act, “Mad” Marty Wilson who then handed over to magazine chief, Michael Caselli and guest presenter Neil Channing. Three Englishmen presenting the Irish Poker Awards? Happily the rest of the proceedings were dominated by the home grown talent, although I’m not quite sure that Paul Marrow, nominated for Poker personality of the year, could, strictly speaking, be regarded as Irish. But, what the hell, if Tony Cascarino can play football for Ireland......

The nominees were chosen by a committee comprising representatives from Bluff Europe, Boylepoker.com, Poker News.com, pokerireland.ie, and d4events.com. The process then went to a public online vote to determine the winners of each category.
On the night there were four double winners. Padraig Parkinson picked up the award for Poker Personality of the year as well as the award for Best Poker Blogger. John O’Shea won the award for Best Tournament Player and the award for the Best All Round Player. Owen Robinson won the award for Break Out Year as well as the award for Player of the Year. The other double winner was J.P. McCann who picked up the Best Tournament Director award as well as the award for running the Best Poker League.

Other winners were:-

Best Cash Player – Andy Black

Best Online Player – Jude Duffy

Best Irish Card Room - The Fitzwilliam Casino

Best Irish Poker Forum – Irish Poker Boards

Best Poker Festival – Boylepoker IPO

Congratulations to all the winners.

This may not be the end of the awards for Ireland this year as Irishpokerrankings.com held their own version of the Irish Poker Awards for 2009 and will probably do the same for 2010. There are also, of course, the 2010 Poker Europa European Poker Awards, scheduled to be held in Paris in February. It would not be the first time that a few Irish players found their way into the nominations for these awards. Full details of the European awards can, I believe, be found in another page of this edition of Poker Europa.


Many Dubliners are known for their quick wit and off the cuff remarks. Among the older poker players in this category would be Padraig Parkinson and Alan Betson. A mutual friend of ours turned up at the Regency Hotel for the Boylepoker IPO. The man in question was American John “Schof” Sheffield. Schof has lived and worked in Las Vegas since the late sixties and was for many years involved in running the WSOP at Binion’s Horseshoe. He always worked the day shift and was well known to most of the Irish and European players who would stop off for a drink at the poker bar at night. Schof would generally join the players after work and was in a position to look after the drinks tab for the players. He also had a rich supply of jokes and stories to help keep the company entertained. The craic was so good most of the time that the session carried on well into the small hours, there being no closing time for the bars in Las Vegas. This wasn’t too bad for the players who could get some sleep afterwards. For Schof it was quite often a very short sleep, a change of clothes and back to work in the morning. This sort of schedule went on for days on end for Schof and he never seemed to show any signs of slowing down. We were sitting in the bar in The Regency Hotel one night and Schof was talking about how many hours he had been drinking since arriving in Ireland. Quick as a flash, Alan Betson came out with the comment “So you’re drinking in hours now when it used to be in days.”



Due to local demand, The Macau Club in Cork has decided to run another Christmas festival this year. It will kick off on Thursday 9th December with a €50, one rebuy, one add on, super satellite for seats in the main event. The €500 + 50 main event starts on Friday 10th at 8pm and runs for three days. Players will start with 20,000 chips. Saturday has a €180 + 20 + 20 scalp side event. Sunday sees an unusual event where you can choose your own buy in level. For €50 you will start with 7,000 chips. For €100 you will start with 10,000 chips and, if you want to start with 15,000 chips, it will cost you €150 + 15 to enter.


By the time the print version of this magazine hits the card rooms the first tournament of Season 2 of the Poker Stars UKIPT should be done and dusted and a new Irish Poker Champion crowned in Galway. Let’s hope we have another Irish Champion this year, following Padraig Parkinson’s win last time round. There are no other major events planned for Ireland in December so players can have a little rest from the hectic tournament schedule we witnessed in Ireland in 2010.

It only remains for me to offer all Poker Europa readers best wishes for the Christmas holiday season and hope that you all have a peaceful and profitable poker new year.

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

Monday 1 November 2010


By Mick McCloskey

It has recently come to light that the Irish Tax authorities have decided to impose VAT at a rate of 21% on the activities of private members clubs. The country is in dire financial straits and is obviously looking for revenue streams to boost its finances. Under legislation passed in 1956, certain gaming activities such as those carried out in casinos were classified as unlawful gaming. Casinos have been able to sidestep this legislation by operating as private members clubs. The taxman has now formed the view that these private members clubs are liable for VAT payments and, from what I understand, will be looking to backdate these liabilities. The Revenue Commissioners contend that VAT is payable on membership fees, entry fees, fees to take part in a game and the net receipts of gaming. As I understand it, this tax would apply to poker tournament entry fees as well as to the tournament registration fees. It would also apply to bets made on other casino games and to cash game rake or time charges.

If you are a regular reader, you will know that I am always banging on about how good Irish run poker tournaments generally are. A major industry has grown up out of all these Irish events regularly attracting visitors to Ireland from all over the world. The industry directly employs hundreds of people and provides a huge boost to the Irish tourism industry. All this could be ended if this tax is fully implemented. The VAT charge does not apply to other forms of gambling such as bookmaking, bingo or to the government run Tote and National Lottery so would not seem to be a fair tax. Any demands made so far are under appeal so it could be a while before this is all sorted out. An industry group, The Gaming and Leisure Association of Ireland, (GLAI), is actively lobbying the Irish government for an exemption from VAT. If the tax is eventually collected, it could decimate the Irish casino industry and it would make poker tournaments in Ireland totally unfeasible, in my view, as all the major tournaments are held under the auspices of various private members clubs. The timing of all this is a little baffling as the Irish government is currently carrying out a review of the gaming industry with a view to setting up a Gaming Commission, perhaps based on the UK model, which would oversee the legalisation of casino gaming in Ireland. Perhaps the best hope for tournament poker in this country is that this tax is not implemented before the gaming review is complete. Otherwise the whole industry could be killed off before a decision on its future is made and that won’t put much money into the Irish Exchequer. It would actually cost the state and the tourist industry money in the long term.

It might be a good idea for all casino operators and poker promoters in Ireland to support the efforts of the GLAI and be guided by their current experiences in this field. You can find out more about them by visiting their website at www.glai.ie


Poker in the Pub has launched Season 3 of this small amateur series. When I say small, I mean the buy in, as over 800 players qualified for the Grand Final in 2009. Next February the league final will take place in the INEC in Killarney with an estimated prize pool of €100,000. For full details of where you can qualify check out www.pokerinthepub.ie



Poker Stars have now announced the schedule for Season 2 of this highly successful poker tour. As previewed in my last column, Cork will be the location for a new stop on the tour. This tournament, with a main event buy in of €500 + 60 and a guarantee of €100,000 will be held at the Rochestown Park hotel from the 19th to 22nd May and replaces the Season 1 venue of Killarney. Cork’s Macau Casino will be involved in the running of this event and will be holding a number of live satellites.

The tour returns to Dublin’s Burlinton Hotel for season 2 from the 8th to 11th September and carries a guarantee of €250,000 for a buy in of €500 + 60

First up though will be the return of the Irish Poker Championship to Galway’s Radisson Hotel. The big change this season is the reduction of the buy in for this major Irish event from €2,000 (reg. included) to €1,000 + 100. A prize pool of €250,000 is guaranteed and the tournament will run from the 2nd to 5th of December. As usual, satellites for all events will be available on PokerStars.com. Full details of the Season 2 schedule can be found at www.ukipt.com


The Quay Casino in Wexford has announced details of a poker festival scheduled to run from 3rd to 5th of December. The main event will have a buy in of €500 + 50 with a guaranteed €25,000 prize pool. I’m not sure that clashing with the UKIPT event in Galway is a real good idea but, no doubt, the Quay Casino came up with these dates before Poker Stars had announced theirs. It would not surprise me if the Wexford event were to be rescheduled. I would advise anyone interested in the Wexford tournament to check with the Quay Casino before they make concrete plans.

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

Friday 1 October 2010


By Mick McCloskey

I must start with an apology. As the title indicates, I am at a bit of a loose end this month. It’s a mixture of writers block and disappointment that some much anticipated news failed to materialise, at the very last minute, as my deadline approaches. I had been hoping to announce details of the Irish dates of Season 2 of Poker Stars very successful UK and Ireland poker tour. However, the people at Poker Stars decided not to let me have advance notice of the dates even though the full details should be widely available by the time you read my sad excuses for lack of content this month. I did however manage to pick up a couple of snippets of news regarding the UKIPT which I will share with you. First snippet is that the Irish Poker Championship will return to Galway at the start of December and second, that a leg of the tour will be held in a Cork hotel, probably in May next year. By the very nature of instant communications these days, you will probably know more than me about these things by the time this article is available in print. Ce la vie.


Boylepoker IPO

The Boylepoker International Poker Open takes place in the Regency Hotel, Dublin, from 15th to 17th October. There are two starting days and anyone wanting to play must register online at Boylepoker.com. For a modest €200 you will get to take part in a professionally run major event and test your skills against lots of high profile pros and celebrities from Ireland and the UK. This event had a massive 1,440 entries last year with a top prize of $62,250 going to Germany’s Markus Sippe. Boylepoker.com are adding €20,000 to the prize pool. Not too shabby for a €200 event.

Irish Winter Festival

The Irish Winter Festival moves to Dublin’s Burlington Hotel this year and takes place from 22nd to 25th October. The weekend kicks off with a €150 + 15 super satellite on Friday the 22nd for seats in the main event. The main event is a three day affair running from Saturday to Monday, a Bank Holiday in Ireland. The buy in for the main event is €1,500 + 150. Also scheduled for Saturday is a €200 + 20 NLH side event. On Sunday there is a €500 + 50 two day side event as well as something completely different, a €100 + 10 Blind Mans Bluff Championship. Card holding hats will be supplied, I believe. Getting back to semi normality, Monday’s events include a €300 + 30 round of each freezeout as well as the Irish Mythical Championship for a buy in of €100 + 10. For full details check out paddypowerpoker.com


If you have never been to Vegas for the WSOP, or even if you have, here is a chance to play WSOP type events for a fraction of the cost of the real thing. All the events use the same structure as the corresponding WSOP tournaments but with shorter levels. This is the second year of this festival, organised by J.P. McCann and his team, and is scheduled to run from 4th to 7th November at the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin. The hotel has a reduced room rate of €79 per night using the promo code “poker 2010”. Last year’s festival had 325 runners for the €350 main event, generating a prize pool of over €100,000. The action starts on Thursday night with a €150 short handed event and this is followed by a €80 super satellite for seats in the main event. You will have another chance to win a main event seat in a €80 turbo satellite on Friday afternoon. The €350 three day main event kicks off at 8pm with players starting with 30,000 chips, playing 45 minute levels. On Saturday there is a €250 side event, also with a 30,000 starting stack and 30 minute levels. There is also a €80 turbo side event with 4,500 chips and 20 minute levels on Saturday night. Sunday is going to be all action with four events planned on top of the conclusion of the main event itself. In short, there is a €250 HORSE event at 3pm, a €150 triple shootout at 5pm, a €250 heads up event at 7pm and another €80 turbo event at 9pm. Phew, my head’s spinning already but I’m sure J.P. and his team can handle it all with ease.
J.P.’s events are among the best structured tournaments to be found anywhere. To ensure that this continues he has stated that “If the average stack, in the main event and the 250 event, drops below 25 big blinds, we will rerun levels to a maximum of three times to help ensure the game doesn’t become a crap-shoot.”
J.P. does have his own website at www.jppoker.ie but, unfortunately, the site is not updated as often as it should be. However, he is fairly good at getting his events onto other websites. Full details of the festival can be found on the Hendon Mob poker forum and on irishpokerboards.com, among others.

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

Thursday 2 September 2010


By Mick McCloskey

While in Las Vegas during the WSOP I played a media only free roll event at the Rio Casino. I happened to be drawn at the same table as the head of casino security at the Rio. On the very first hand of the tournament all hell broke loose on our table with four people going all in. The hands were pocket AA, pocket KK, for the head of security, pocket 10, 10 and pocket 3, 3. The flop was A, K, 10, giving three people a set. The turn was a 3, giving a fourth set and, wait for it, the river was also a 3 giving one player four of a kind and the other three full houses! Bad beat city! With press cameras rolling and flashing all around the table, it was announced that it had all been a set up and that everyone was to start again with their original chip stacks. The one thing I don’t understand was how they knew that I was going to pass my pocket JJ in this hand. Go figure that one out!

On my way home I was booked on the Virgin direct flight from Vegas to London. On the same flight I spotted recent WSOP bracelet winners Mike Ellis and Steve Jelinek. I sort of assumed that the pair would be travelling in upper class or even first after their success. I was surprised therefore to see both guys seated a couple of rows behind me in economy class. Joint winnings at the 2010 WSOP, $827,722. Good to see the lads watching the pennies and being careful not to squander their winnings! After all, everyone on the flight gets from Vegas to London no matter where they sit, right!

Another Vegas wedding to report. Julian Gardner, runner up in the WSOP main event in 2002 for $1.1 million, tied the knot with his long time partner Kerry. My reaction, like many others, on hearing the news was, “Damn, I thought they got married years ago!”
Best wishes for the future to Julian and Kerry and the family from myself and all here at Poker Europa.

Finally, to round off my Vegas report, congratulations to Dublin’s James Fennell, top Irish finisher in this years main event. James picked up $168,556 for his 48th place finish along with his first ever entry in The Hendon Mob database. Nice start sir.


September sees the start of a busy period for poker tournaments in Ireland. First up is the Dublin leg of the Poker Stars UK and Ireland poker tour, running from 9th to 12th September at the Burlington Hotel. Following a player survey, the buy in has been reduced from €1,000 to €500 + 60 but the €250,000 guarantee remains in place, meaning that the organisers are expecting a 500+ field. Following the success of the UKIPT in other venues, I doubt they will have any problem meeting the guarantee. The event will be recorded for broadcast on Channel 4 early in the new year. For further details log onto www.ukipt.com


This event takes place in the Ballsbridge Inn, Dublin from 15th to 19th September. The buy in is €500 + 50 for the six handed three day event, which will have two starting days. The capacity is set at 600 but, if the demand is there, this may be increased. Side events will be played as normal 9 or 10 handed tournaments in the initial stages before becoming 6 handed. For full details see www.d4events.com


This event kicks off with a super satellite on 30th September with the €500 + 50 three day main event starting on 1st October in the INEC complex at the Gleneagles Hotel in Killarney. The tournament has a €250,000 guarantee and has proved to very popular with players over the last two years since its first running. Part of the attraction is the Ladbrokes player lounge where people can chill out or have a meal or a drink as well as having a little pool or darts action on the side. Satellites and direct buy ins are currently available on Ladbrokes poker site.


One of the year’s most fun events is the record breaking International Poker Open, scheduled to run from 15th to 17th October at the Regency Hotel in Dublin. For a buy in of €200, players of all abilities can experience a professionally run major event and rub shoulders with celebrities and well known poker pros from the UK and Ireland. As if that wasn’t enough, Boyles are adding a juicy €20,000 to the prize pool. The only way to register for this tournament is to win a seat on Boylepoker.com or to buy in direct through the poker site. You can get extra starting chips for the tournament by registering early and earning player points on Boylepoker.com. Check out the online poker site for full details.

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

Thursday 5 August 2010



No, it was not a hostile business takeover. What happened was the rescue of yours truly from a very confined space. Let’s start at the beginning. Paul Lucey, from the Atlantis Casino in Carlow had very kindly issued an open invitation to all the Irish players in Vegas to a party at a very nice villa at the Mirage Casino. The villa had three bedrooms, a lounge and a bar/entertainment area as well as an outdoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and putting green. As the party got into full swing, I made a visit to one of the many bathrooms in the property. As I went to leave, the door handle came off the inside of the door and I was trapped. I began banging on the door until I heard a voice outside asking if I was all right. It belonged to none other than the lovely Rebecca McAdam, Card Player Europe’s roving reporter. I explained my predicament and Rebecca was able to open the door from the outside to complete my rescue. It’s always good that poker magazine reporters can help each other out when they are on the job, so to speak. So, if Rebecca ever finds herself in the same predicament, I will be only too happy to return the favour.

As I write, all the WSOP side events have been completed and the main event is underway. Numbers are up this year, despite business being well down in Vegas overall, due to the recession in the USA. Congratulations have to go to the Brits who are taking home five WSOP bracelets and a lot of money for runner up and final table appearances. Very well done to Praz Bansi, James Dempsey, Richard Ashby, Mike Ellis and Steve Jelineck. Actually leading the UK money list is Sam Trickett, who took over half a million dollars for a runner up spot as well as another five cashes.
Topping the Irish money list is Denis Murphy, closely followed by Nick Heather who I hear has landed himself a sponsorship deal with Paddy Power Poker on the back of this and other results. Sean Prendiville has continued to show form in Vegas following a good run back home. He cashed twice here in Vegas. Of course the main event has yet to be completed, so let’s hope for a few more Irish results.

Las Vegas itself sees a lot of changes this year. There are a few abandoned building sites around town but, at the same time, the impressive new City Centre project is pretty much completed, virtually dwarfing the nearby Bellagio property. A brand new casino, the Aria, has opened in the City Centre. It has a poker room and a high roller room named after Phil Ivey. Rumour has it that The Big Game may move from its home at the Bellagio to the brand new property
At the other end of town, Binion’s casino is sadly almost derelict. The hotel rooms are all closed down as well as the famous Coffee Shop. They have had a series of poker tournaments during the WSOP but the cash action, compared to last year, is almost nonexistent. It makes me sad to see the decline of such a historic casino, the original home of the World Series.



Ireland’s biggest week long festival kicks off in the Macau Club in Cork on Monday 16th August. The varied schedule includes a Triple Shootout event, a shorthanded event and a Pot Limit Omaha freezeout as well as the €1,000 + 100 main event. The three day main event has a €100,000 guarantee and has two starting days on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th August. The starting stack is set at 20,000 chips with 75 minute levels. The award winning Macau Club is renowned for its hospitality and the nightly hot food buffet is undoubtedly the best I have personally experienced anywhere in the UK or Ireland.
Look out for live satellites in clubs around Ireland. Online satellites for seats are also available on Stan James Poker, Betpackpoker.com, Boylepoker.com, Betfair.com and Paddy Power Poker.
For further details log onto www.macausportingclub.com

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

Thursday 15 July 2010


By Mick McCloskey

I recently heard the news that Paul Spillane, head of poker at Boylepoker.com for about the last two and a half years, is to leave the company. He intends to spend the summer in Las Vegas and in Spain before making a decision on his future.
I first met Paul in the late nineties or possibly the year 2,000, playing with him in various poker tournaments, mostly in Birmingham. At that time the Rainbow Casino in the city was one of the very few places in the UK that ran poker tournaments on a fairly regular basis. The Rainbow was the home of the Great Britain Poker Championship, one of the most prestigious titles to be had at that time. If memory serves me correct, it was a Pot Limit Hold’em affair. The Rainbow closed its poker room just around the time that poker started to boom in the UK and Europe. Perhaps it was a good thing that they did close as the premises were pretty cramped even in those far off days and would not have been able to cope with many more players coming through the doors. Anyway, Paul served his time playing on the poker circuit and came to Boylespoker with all that valuable experience under his belt. He knew many of the top UK pros at the time and shared a house/flat with Neil Channing, among others, for a time. He was able to use this insight into the mindset of the journeyman poker pro, and the contacts he had built up, to help develop the business of Boylepoker in Ireland and further afield. Boylepoker.com had been involved in sponsoring some tournaments in Ireland before Paul joined them but, I think they would themselves admit that this sponsorship was not that successful. With Paul’s involvement in a new sponsorship venture, all that went before could be forgotten. Boylespoker took on an existing event, organised by Stephen McClean, and transformed it into one of the most popular tournaments in Europe. I refer of course to the International Poker Open, held in October each year in Dublin. From the outset, it set new records for attendances at European poker events but it was more than just a numbers thing. Paul used his contacts to persuade a good number of top UK and Irish poker pros to come and play in an event they would never otherwise have considered attending. It gave a lot of aspiring amateurs the chance to play against top pros in a pretty well structured and very well run two day event, for the price of a buy-in to their local monthly club special. In addition, all the pros and invited celebrities had a bounty on their heads and could be identified by the Sunderland football tops they all had to wear. It also gave the pros the chance to relax and mix with each other, and with all the players, at one of the most fun weekends of the year. The hotel bar always does brisk business over the weekend.
The other thing that was new to Boylespoker was the sponsorship deals given to a number of top Irish players, the first of which was Marty Smyth. Boyles made the inspired decision to sponsor Marty shortly after his win at the Irish Open. He managed to repay their faith in him by going on to win a WSOP title and the live televised Poker Million, wearing the Boylepoker logo. They also got involved in sponsorship of the Poker Show, featuring Jesse May and Padraig Parkinson, and in Irish Poker Rankings. With all this and player blogs and player videos on their website, it gives Boylepoker.com the feel of a poker community, giving users the chance to leave comments on the website.
In a way, I think Paul and his team have managed, in a pretty short space of time, to transform the Irish poker scene for the better and, to my mind, has brought Boylepoker.com to the forefront of Irish poker and left the company probably in a much healthier state than before he came along. I personally, and all here at Poker Europa, want to thank Paul for all his work in the past and to wish him well in the future in whatever he decides to do.



With the main event of the WSOP kicking off on 5th July, those who can’t make it to Vegas can have a go instead in Waterford where the Irish Series of Poker gets underway on 6th July. The organisers are Big Slick Events and the venue is the Tower Hotel, where special room rates have been negotiated for players. The schedule includes a PLO event and a Ladies tournament. The main €500 (10% reg included) event starts on Friday 9th July and features a very good looking structure with a 20,000 starting stack and 60 minute levels, rising to 75 minute levels for day 2 and 90 minute levels for day 3. Full details can be found at www.bigslickevents.net


Another festival takes place in the seaside resort of Tramore, Co. Waterford from 22nd to 25th July. The event is sponsored by Brucepoker.com in association with The Olympus Casino and ProNutzPoker.com. The venue is the Grand Hotel, where a special deal has been negotiated for players. The main 3 day event has a buy in of €400 + 40 and features a 15,000 starting stack and 60 minute levels. Full details can be found in the Irish Festivals section of www.irishpokerboards.com.
For any queries, call Brian O’Keeffe on 086 103 5798 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 086 103 5798 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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

Tuesday 1 June 2010


By Mick McCloskey

I heard a story lately about a tournament play made by a well known player on the Irish poker scene. It relates to “Big Al” Kelleher from Cork. I have known Al for a good few years and, apart from being known on the Irish scene, Big Al has also been known to make his considerable presence felt on poker tables in many other far flung places across the globe. I’m not really sure if the story is true or not as I haven’t confirmed it with the man himself. However, I’m pretty sure there would be no harm in repeating the story here as it doesn’t reflect badly on Al. In fact I can totally relate to this story as I have played with Big Al in the past and can just imagine this situation and have witnessed similar outcomes involving Al.
Apparently Al was playing in a tournament somewhere and was involved in a pot with a young player. At some stage during the hand, Al asked for a count of his opponent’s chip stack. The guy counted his stack and informed Big Al that he had 6,700. Al immediately announced that he was betting 6,000 into the pot. His opponent announced “All in” and Big Al’s cards hit the muck before the guy got his chips into the middle!
Being aggressive in No Limit poker is a well known part of the game so Big Al was just doing what players do in playing NLH. It sometimes amuses me to hear young guys discuss poker strategy as if it was all something new. The game has been dissected to its bare components on various poker forums by new school experts. I was amused a few years back to see a guy discussing, on a poker forum, a hand I had been involved in with him. He made the comment that he had called off a chunk of his chips because it looked like I was making a squeeze play against him and another player. He then made the comment that he wasn’t quite sure if I actually knew what a squeeze play was. I don’t claim to be a great technical, or any sort of expert, on NLH, but I do know a little about the subject. I also know that guys like Doyle Brunson and many of his contemporaries were playing the ultra aggressive game way before many of the new school experts were born. The late great Stu Ungar, three time winner of the WSOP main event, was well known for his aggression and for the move that is now described as “floating”. It was all part of his stock in trade. Ungar died in 1998, before the advent of internet poker and all the theory about NLH which was to appear on internet forums since their inception. Most of the new school theory and strategy has been around for almost as long as the game of No Limit Hold’em has been around. So don’t write off the old school just yet.



The only major event coming up in Ireland in June is the Poker Stars UKIPT event in Killarney, scheduled to run from 24th to 27th June in the INEC at the Gleneagles Hotel complex, which includes separate self catering apartment blocks and the five star Brehon Hotel. I can personally recommend the Brehon Hotel. It costs a bit more to stay there but is well worth it if you like a little bit of extra class and comfort. The main event has a buy-in of €1,000 + 100. Satellites for seats and packages are currently running on the Poker Stars online site. The event carries a €250,000 guaranteed prize pool. As I said in my last column, I would imagine that many of the top pros from the UK and Ireland will be in Las Vegas for the WSOP at this stage of the month so the tournament will probably be wide open for players not making, or delaying, the annual trip to Vegas. Unfortunately I am one of those travellers so will miss this much anticipated event. The fact is that, from where I live in Northern Ireland, it is almost easier for me to travel to Vegas than it is to get to Killarney! It’s not just Tipperary it’s a long way to. Best wishes to all the Irish players going to Killarney and also to those heading further afield in June.
Details of the Killarney event can be found at www.ukipt.com


Former owner of Belfast’s Cavendish Poker Club, Sean Murphy, has been in touch to let me know that he has taken over Silks Casino Club in Dublin. He intends to run regular poker games at the plush club on Earlsfort Terrace, near St. Stephens Green. Further details of the casino can be found at www.silksclub.ie

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

Monday 3 May 2010


By Mick McCloskey

In the real world, well in the UK anyway, its election time once again. Coincidentally, Boylepoker.com has launched an election campaign of their own on behalf of their sponsored pro, Marty Smyth. Now Marty is not actually seeking political office but is campaigning to be one of the 27 players who will take part in a $1 million freeroll at the WSOP in Las Vegas next month. The “Tournament of Champions” will have seven players who qualify as of right while the other 20 places will be open to a public vote for former WSOP bracelet winners. The winner of this event will walk away with $500,000 but in Marty’s case the figure will be zero as he has pledged to donate all his winnings from this event to charity. Should he be voted into the TOC, he has pledged to donate any winnings to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin.
You can help make this magnificent gesture a reality by registering your vote for Marty to play this event. Simply log onto www.wsop.com/toc and follow the online instructions. There is also a “Vote Marty” page on Facebook which you can join and encourage your friends to vote as well.
If you are fed up with the money grabbing politicians, get online and vote for someone who wants to give it away!


After the JP Masters in Dublin at the beginning of May, there is really nothing major in Ireland until Leg 5 of the Poker Stars UKIPT, scheduled for Killarney from 24th to 27th June. I suppose that this period is traditionally the time that a lot of players are preparing to head to Las Vegas for the WSOP marathon. Indeed, I imagine that a lot of players will already be in Vegas when this event takes place. As a lot of the top pros will be absent from this leg of the UKIPT, it could well be a chance for some of the less well known players to make their mark in a major event. And I believe it will be a major event if the popularity of the UKIPT so far among players is anything to go by. Previous legs of the UKIPT in the UK have sold out. The tournament will be held in the Gleneagles Hotel and has a buy-in of €1,000 + 100 and a guaranteed prize pool of €250,000. I realise that the level of the buy-in could be a little steep for recreational players but there will be plenty of opportunities for players to satellite their way into this event on Pokerstars.com for a lot less money. Satellites for seats only and for full packages to include hotel and travel expenses will both be available.


This stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It relates to anyone intending to travel to the USA and there will probably be quite a few heading there soon for the annual WSOP. For anyone who does not have a USA visa and who intends to travel to the States under the Visa Waiver programme, which will be the majority of visitors, there is now a requirement to complete an online form in advance of travelling. The form itself is pretty simple and much like the regular green paper form already in use on US bound flights. Just be sure you complete the application well before you travel. To find the form online, log onto https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta Do make sure you get onto the official US government website, which provides a totally free service. There are a number of unofficial sites on the web which will try to charge a fee to submit your application. If you are asked for credit card or debit card details, you are logged onto the wrong site. Good luck to all Irish players heading to Vegas this summer.

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

Thursday 1 April 2010


By Mick McCloskey

The island of Ireland is a fairly small place, in global terms, with a total population smaller than that of any one of a number of large cities in the UK. I’m not going to get into the politics or rights or wrongs of the situation here but, for better or worse, the island is divided into two parts, the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Northern Ireland (NI). As I write a column about poker, that’s what we are going to look at in a bit more detail.

ROI has a long history of running poker tournaments with the Irish Open dating back to 1981. Even in those early days, the tournament could attract a decent amount of visiting players from the UK and even from the USA. Fast forward to the early part of this century and the growth in poker meant that player numbers had started to outgrow the traditional tournament venues. Hence the tournaments started to be moved into large hotel function rooms, with travelling players staying in the same hotels. The ambience and atmosphere thus created meant that the tournament experience was combined with a great social experience, pretty much unlike anywhere else outside of the WSOP experience at Binion’s Horseshoe. In both places, you had most of the players staying, playing, eating and drinking in the same venue over a number of days and it was a great way of meeting and getting to know fellow poker players. The word of this experience filtered down to smaller tournaments and the organisers of events that were able to offer good value, well structured tournaments began attracting more and more overseas players. In the last year I would estimate that the number of visitors, mostly from continental Europe, could be numbered in thousands rather than hundreds. All these visitors have helped to maintain a vibrant poker industry in ROI, directly creating jobs for dealers and floor people. All these visitors need to get here so the airline industry benefits as well as other transport providers. These visitors also need hotel rooms as well as food, drink and entertainment while they are here. All this has benefits for the Irish tourism industry as well as the economy in general. And it is not just the benefit of overseas visitors. Many people from other parts of Ireland and NI tend to stay in the same hotels for the duration of the tournament, normally a stay of 3 to 4 nights. The craic at these events is usually top class.

In NI such large tournaments are outlawed. Even people trying to organise something smaller, on a local basis, are liable to be, and have been, raided and shut down by heavily armed police. Enough said.



There could be a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. That is if enough poker players can tear themselves away from the felt or their computer screens for a few minutes. The Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland has undertaken a review of the existing gaming laws and are seeking submissions from interested parties. This is your chance to make your voices heard in the quest for legal poker in NI. Log onto the DSD website for contact details or write to them at,
Social Policy Unit
Department for Social Development ( NI )
Level 1, James House
2/4 Cromac Avenue
Gasworks Business Park


This is certainly one of the good value, well structured tournaments I referred to in my headline article above. J.P. McCann is one of Ireland’s most respected and innovative tournament directors and, apart from running his own events, is now in demand to work at other high profile events at home and abroad, including events on the European Poker Tour.
The first time I covered this event in 2008, I noted that, when the main event got down to five handed, the average chip stack was a healthy 55 big blinds. JP has, I hear, further refined his tournament structures to provide plenty of play, repeating blinds levels if necessary, throughout his tournaments and not just at the final table.
The three day main event has a buy-in of €750 (75 reg. included) and has a starting stack of 20,000 with 60 minute blinds for ten levels, increasing to 75 minute blind levels after that. The action takes place in the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght, on the outskirts of Dublin, and kicks off with a super satellite on Thursday 6th May. The main event starts on 7th May. The tournament capacity has been capped at 350 and I can tell you there are already seats booked by European visitors. If you want to be part of this great weekend, I would advise you to book early and pay a deposit to hold your seat. For further details contact JP on ++353 8764 48132 or log onto www.jppoker.ie Online satellites for seats in the main event are currently running on Boylepoker.com


This countrywide tour, now under new management, holds its grand final at the Dolmen Hotel, Carlow, from 22nd to 25th April. The buy-in for the main event is €1,000 + 100 and it starts on Friday 23rd April. There will be a €100 + 20 super satellite on Thursday 22nd. Online satellites for main event seats are currently running on Ladbrokespoker.com. For full details log onto www.celticpokertour.com

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

Thursday 4 March 2010


By Mick McCloskey

I was in Co. Kerry recently for the Lakes of Killarney Poker Festival. Shortly after midnight on the day before the main event I was talking to Co. Down bookie, John Keown. He had just arrived at the hotel after driving down from Newry and discovered that his wallet, containing his poker bankroll for the weekend, was missing. He knew he had left home with it as he had stopped at a 24 hour filling station near Naas for fuel and had paid cash from the wallet. He still had the fuel receipt so he called the number on the receipt to enquire if the wallet had been found. Luckily for John, the station cashier told him his wallet had been found lying on the forecourt and had been handed in by another customer. John got straight back into the car and hit the road to Naas, where he recovered the wallet, with the bankroll fully intact. So there are still a few honest people left in this world.
I spoke to a happy John the next day and he told me that he felt that he was on a sort of a freeroll for the rest of the weekend after getting his cash back. His good luck certainly continued as he ended up in second place in the main event, taking down a €10,000 payout. I doubt if John will have many weekends as lucky as this one.


Boylepoker.com has announced that the company is to sponsor the 2010 Irish Poker Rankings. The years leading player will walk away with a $10,000 sponsorship package and there will also be prizes for the player who earns the most ranking points each month during the year. The ranking system has been expanded this year to include many more clubs and events around the country. Paul Spillane, Head of Poker at Boylepoker.com said “We recognise Irish Poker Rankings as a fantastic way to connect with and bring together Ireland’s grass roots poker community.”
You can keep track of player rankings at www.irishpokerrankings.com


The inaugural running of this event is due to take place in the Eglinton Casino in Galway, starting on Thursday 4th March with a €100 + 10 super satellite, with €50 re-buys, for seats in the main event. The Pot Limit Omaha Championship event has a buy-in of $1,000 + 100 and is scheduled to run over three days, starting on Friday 5th March. The main event is a triple chance affair, with 60 minute levels and a starting stack of 10,000, with two additional stacks of 10,000 each available during the first three levels, as required. The two side events cater for the Texas Hold’em players and consist of a €250 two day event on Saturday 6th and a €150 freezeout on the Sunday. For full details log onto www.theeglinton.com


A new event on the calendar for the Macau Club in Cork is this €400 + 40 three day tournament with a 50,000 starting stack. The festival kicks off on Thursday 18th March with a super satellite for seats to the main event with a buy-in of €40 +5 with one re-buy or one add on at €40 available. Six seats are guaranteed. The three day main event starts on Friday 19th March with a guarantee of €20,000. The first of two side events starts on Saturday 20th March and features a round of Hold’em and a round of Omaha freezeout with a buy-in of €100 + 10. The final NLH tournament has a buy-in of €100 + 10 with one re-buy or add on available at €50 and has a €5,000 guarantee.
The Macau Club is renowned for its hospitality and quality hot food buffet and this event is certainly on my schedule of must play tournaments. For full details log onto www.macausportingclub.com


Ireland’s biggest major poker event this year returns to Dublin’s Burlington Hotel, the scene of Marty Smyth’s victory. Marty was the last Irish winner of this title in 2007. Could this be an omen for another Irish winner?
The festival kicks off on Thursday 1st April with a €200 + 20 super satellite, with re-buys, for seats in the main event. The four day main event has a buy-in of €3,200 + 300 and starts on Friday 2nd April. Saturday sees the start of a two day Pot Limit Omaha tournament with a buy-in of €750 + 75. There is a €300 + 30 two day Ladies Championship event starting on Easter Sunday as well as a two day €1,500 + 150 NLH freezeout. Easter Monday sees the finish of the main event, the Ladies Championship and the €1,500 freezeout. Monday also features a one day “Scalps” game with a buy-in of €270 + 30 reg. plus €30 for the scalps, for a total of €330.
Full details can be found at www.irishpokeropen.com

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

Tuesday 2 February 2010



By Mick McCloskey

Northern Ireland Police spoiled the pre Christmas festive atmosphere at The River Club in Derry City by arriving in force during the club’s Christmas tournament on the third Sunday of December. Some of the players actually thought that they were about to be robbed as the first police to arrive were done up in riot gear complete with balaclavas covering their faces. I’m not quite sure what the police were expecting to find in a poker club, apart from a load of people quietly playing Texas Hold’em! The fact is that this club has been operating quite openly for around three years, the police have been quite aware of this and the club owners have actually been in contact with the local police to find out whether they were actually breaking any laws by running regular poker tournaments. In fact, the owners tell me that the police previously sent a file to the N. I. Prosecution Service about the club’s activities and that they were advised not to proceed with any prosecution. So quite what the police hope to achieve by this heavy handed approach is beyond me. The police stopped the game, seized the prize money, laptops, playing cards and the poker chips and questioned and searched all the players and made a note of the amount of money each player had in his/her possession. They also arrested the two club owners and held and questioned them at the local police station for a number of hours before charging both men and bailing them to appear in court at a later date. The owners have been charged with organising and taking part in illegal gaming under the terms of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Order (N. I.) 1985. The trouble with this legislation is that it is 25 years old and poker at that time was mostly played in private and the massive growth in the game could certainly not have been anticipated by the law makers of the time. An up to date review of the law, as regards poker, would be very welcome by both players and operators.

Following on from another poker club in Belfast being raided and closed recently, there seems to be a concerted effort by the Northern Ireland authorities to clamp down on poker in this part of the world. I find it incredible that as a resident of Northern Ireland, with dual UK and Irish nationality, I can play poker in peace and security anywhere I choose in the rest of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland without fear of police raids in the middle of the game. Yet, in my own little part of the world, I feel like I am being criminalised for playing a game that millions of people all over the world are free to enjoy. It’s not as though all gambling is outlawed here, only the parts where you have a sporting chance of making some money, it seems. You can spend as much money as you like on the national lottery, betting on sports, playing bingo, slot machines or whatever, with very little chance of a meaningful result. They may be able to close down well run clubs, as they choose, but they will never stop people playing poker in Northern Ireland, or anywhere else, as long as the internet exists or as long as consenting adults are prepared to put their money down on the poker table to play the game they love and enjoy.

I will try to keep you updated on where things go from here but, I’m not optimistic about the future of live poker in this forgotten corner of the country.


Well structured, deep stacked, reasonably priced poker tournaments in Ireland seem to be the way to go right now. Following the success of J.P. McCann’s Mini WSOP in November, which sold out in advance, Green Joker Poker’s European Deepstack Championship, scheduled for Dublin on 5th February, has also sold out. With a buy-in of €500 + 50 and a 400 seat capacity, the three day main event sold out about 4 weeks in advance of the actual starting date. You can’t hang about in Ireland these days if you want to play the popular events.


The next venue to follow this trend is the Macau Club in Cork which is putting on a Deepstack Festival, starting the day after St. Patrick’s Day. The festival kicks off on Thursday 18th March with a €40 + 5 super satellite, with €20 re-buys and a treble add on for €20, for seats in the main event. The three day main event, with a buy-in of €400 + 40 and a 50,000 starting stack, kicks off on Friday 19th March. Super satellites run each afternoon and two support events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday evenings. To book your seat online, check out www.macausportingclub.com


The venue for the first running of this event is The Eglinton Casino in Galway from 4th to 7th March. The main €1,000 + 100 buy-in PLO event is a triple chance format with three lots of chips of 10,000 available for a total starting stack of 30,000. A full schedule of satellites and support events is scheduled for the weekend. For further details log onto www.theeglinton.com


Irish Poker Rankings.com organised this event at Dublin’s Voodoo Club at the end of December. The awards were as follows:-

Best tournament – Boylespoker International Poker Open.
Best Club – Eglinton Casino, Galway
Best online poker site – Boylespoker.com
Most improved player – Cat O’Neill
Biggest contributor to Irish Poker – Fintan Gavin, Galway
Best TD – Dave Curtis, Eglinton Casino, Galway
Best Player – Jude Ainsworth, Galway
Top ranked player, 2009 – Francis “Wally” McCormack

Congratulations to all winners and nominees. Full details can be found at www.irishpokerrankings.com

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

Monday 4 January 2010


By Mick McCloskey

Just returned from the Christmas Festival at the Macau Club. As usual, Cork is always an interesting place to visit. This time there were flood alerts in operation over the weekend and there had been serious flooding in the city in the previous weeks. As I understand it, parts of the city are built on an island on a tidal estuary. To add to the problems, there is apparently, a dam in the hills above the city which overflows into the city’s River Lee. During the recent heavy rain storms the pressure on the dam became too much for safety and the level had to be reduced by releasing excess water into the already swollen river. Thankfully, all passed off OK while I was there but there was damage in the previous weeks.

Another interesting aspect of my visit was seeing a very nicely dressed lady in the hotel bar one night. With long blonde hair, a mini skirt and fish net stockings, she really looked the part. That was until she spoke. The deep male voice gave the game away. This person was happily chatting up both male and female customers in the bar but seemed to be having more luck with the female revellers. Now maybe I have led a sheltered life but, this is the first time I have ever encountered a real live transvestite in Ireland, outside of drag acts and fancy dress parties. Maybe this is one of the reasons why people flying from Cork to Dublin still have to pass through Passport Control at Dublin Airport!


Another year has passed and we are now into a new poker year. Is it just me or do the years seem to fly by? As usual, Ireland has plenty to offer in terms of poker tournaments, large and small. There are already a good number of major events planned and more in the pipeline, no doubt.


The first of the larger events is scheduled to take place in the picture postcard surroundings of Killarney in County Kerry. To be honest, I think the scenery and tourist facilities are probably wasted on the poker players. Then again, Kerry in the dark days of January is probably not looking its best. The festival, organised by Cue Club Events, in association with Irish Eyes Poker.com, is being held in the four star Dromhall Hotel. Organiser, Connie O’Sullivan, has struck a deal with the hotel to cater for the special needs of players attending a poker tournament. The deal includes:-

1) Breakfast served up until 1pm
2) 24 hour bar service available!
3) 24 hour hot food service
4) All hotel rooms reserved for poker players only over the weekend.
5) Wireless internet access throughout the hotel.
6) Agreed rate of €45 pps

To book a room call ++353 1850 603050

The action kicks off on Thursday 14th January with a €50 super satellite with one re-buy or add on. The €500 + 50 three day main event, with a €50,000 guarantee, starts on Friday 15th, featuring a 15,000 starting stack and 60 minute levels. Blinds start at 25 – 25 and running antes don’t come into play until the third level of day two. No pressure there then. A two day €200 + 20 side event starts on Saturday with a €150 + 20 side event on the Sunday. A 16 player €500 heads up tournament is also pencilled in for the Sunday. Qualifying satellites are running exclusively at www.irisheyespoker.com
Full tournament information can be found at www.cueclubevents.com


This event was originally planned as a €1,000 buy-in tournament with a €100,000 guarantee and was a joint promotion by Big Slick Events and Celtic Poker Tour (CPT). As CPT has recently been taken over by new owners, it has been decided to run the €1,000 event at a later date. The festival will go ahead however from Saturday 30th January to Tuesday 2nd February at the Park Hotel in Clonmel. The festival kicks off with a €50 + 10 super satellite with re-buys. The main event now has a buy-in of €220 + 30 and a €25,000 guarantee and starts on Sunday 31st January. Two side events, each with a buy-in of €100 + 20, will run on the Monday and Tuesday.
Full tournament details can be found at www.bigslickevents.net


Early February sees the return of the Green Joker Poker European Deepstack Championships being held at a new venue with a smaller €500 + 50 buy-in but with the same 50,000 starting stack. The venue for the third running of this event is the Ballsbridge Inn, Dublin. The organisers have arranged for a limited number of rooms at the hotel to be available at a special rate of €49 per night. The number to call for this rate is ++353 1 668 4468.

The weekend starts on Thursday 4th February with a €50 + 10 super satellite (with re-buys) guaranteeing 15 seats to the main event. The main event kicks off at 2pm on Friday 5th February. The structure has been tweaked a little this year so that the blinds start at 50 – 100. The levels are 60 minutes for the first two days with 90 minute levels on the final day. The first support event on Saturday has a €270 + 30 buy-in and a 20,000 starting stack played over two days. The final event on Sunday has a €180 + 20 buy-in. In addition to the main tournaments, there is a second chance event at 8pm every night, priced at €180 + 20.
The whole show is being overseen by excellent tournament director J.P. McCann so everything should run pretty smoothly. A 50,000 starting stack for €500. Sure where else would you get it?
Online qualifiers are now running and full details of these and other event details can be found on the Green Joker Poker website.

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