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