Thursday 1 September 2011

WSOP 2011 Part 2

By Mick McCloskey

Well, unless you’ve been living as a recluse in a cave somewhere, you will know by now that Ireland has a very able representative still playing for a WSOP bracelet in the $10,000 main event. Dublin’s Eoghan O’Dea made the final table, otherwise known as the “November Nine” second in chips with just under 34 million. The final 9 will meet up again in the Rio Casino at the start of November to finish their business and play down to a winner, who will walk away with $8.7 million and instant fame as the 2011 WSOP Main Event Champion. Ninth spot is already guaranteed $782,115 with all left to play for.
26 year old Eoghan is a pro player who makes a lot of his money playing online but is no slouch at live tournaments having several large cashes to his name in the past including a second in the Poker Million and another second in a World Poker Tour event. Let’s hope he can go one place better in November. Eoghan has some poker pedigree being the son of Irish poker legend Donnacha, who has a WSOP bracelet of his own for winning the $1,500 PLO event in 1998, defeating Johhny Chan heads up. Wouldn’t it be great if Ireland could produce the first ever father/son combo of WSOP bracelet winners?
I hear that Eoghan, a keen tennis player, is getting extra fit for his big opportunity in November by training to take part in a triathlon. He will need to be totally fit, mentally and physically for this, potentially life changing challenge. I’m sure you will all join me in wishing Eoghan all the very best in November.

With Eoghan sort of overshadowing all the other Irish players this year, a well done mention must go to a few others who cashed in the Main Event. Congratulations to Nick Newport, Pete Murphy and Reggie Lyons for their efforts.


This festival, held in the seaside resort of Tramore, is always a pleasant way to spend a weekend in the summertime. The town always seems to be buzzing at this time of year and the poker was getting into the same mood. 152 players turned up to play the €400 + 40 main event and Jason Tomkins, recovering from an illness which prevented him from travelling to Las Vegas this year, took the title and €12,000 after a deal which saw Michael Walsh picking up €10,000 for second spot and Adam Early finishing third for €8,500. 2010 Irish Open runner up, Paul Carr, picked up €6,500 for 4th place.


The European Masters of Poker made it to Ireland for the first time at the end of July. The Irish leg was part of a Europe wide tour featuring a number of €1,000 + 100 well structured main events. The tour tends to be made up from a large number of online qualifiers from Scandinavia and Europe and quite a good number of local entries. A total of 303 players took their seats over two starting days at the Clontarf Castle Hotel. I’m no great expert on ancient Irish history but, I believe that Clontarf was the scene of a major battle back in the 11th century. When it got down to the final table it was a battle for the title between 5 Scandinavian and 4 Irish players. The numerical advantage may have been a deciding factor with Denmark’s Soren Larsen defeating Ireland’s Dara O’Kearney heads up for the EMOP title and a first prize of €71,210. Dara, putting on a great display for his sponsors, Irish Eyes Poker, part of the sponsoring network, had to settle for €42,720. Third place and €27,880 went to Finland’s Jukka Nyback with yours truly picking up €16,970 for fourth place.


The month of September is pretty saturated with poker festivals in Ireland with two events actually taking place on the same weekend in Dublin. The Poker Stars UKIPT Dublin has already been previewed in my previous column. The three weekends in a row after that event are fully booked for any player who wants back to back action.

IRISH €100’s

In an interesting tournament variation, Bruce Poker, along with various partners, are involved in running a €120 buy in event with a massive €50,000 guarantee. There will be 4 starting days with half the field from each day qualifying for the final stages. The twist is that players can re-enter, as opposed to re-buy. Players can even do multiple re-entries if they qualify with a short stack and want to take a shot at going through with a bigger stack. The venue is the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. The event runs from 12th to 18th September. Full details can be found on Irish Poker


This event is being run in conjunction with the Irish 100’s, detailed above, in the same venue and is a €400 + 40 Pot Limit Omaha treble chance event starting on Friday 16th September and finishing on Saturday. Players start with a 10,000 stack, playing 60 minute levels, and can take another two 10K stacks as required up to the end of level 4. Again, full details can be found on Irish Poker Boards.


This event returns for the third time to the Ballsbridge Inn, Dublin from 21st to 25th September and, as the title suggests is a 6 handed max event with a buy in of €500 + 50 with a guaranteed €150,000 prize pool. There are two starting days and players knocked out on day1a can re-enter on day1b. The event is organised by local promoters D4Events and full details can be found on their website as well as on Irish Poker Boards.


This is a bounty tournament with a buy in of $500 + 50 with an additional 100 for the bounty for a total of $650. It is scheduled to take place in Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Card Club from 23rd to 25th September. There has been no real publicity effort to promote this event in Ireland but Betfair are running regular online satellites so I can only assume that they are targeting their own customers for this event. There might be a bit of value to be had here if you would rather play a full table rather than the short handed event just down the road in Ballsbridge. Full details can be found at


If you are not pokered out after all that action over the previous three weeks then why not take the trip to Killarney for one of the biggest and most fun events of the year outside of Dublin. This is always an action packed weekend at the INEC at the Gleneagles Hotel with 633 runners last year, a load of online qualifiers, a €500 + 50 main event and a €250,000 guaranteed prize pool. The event is scheduled to run from 29th September to 2nd October. Details can be found at or on Irish Poker Boards.


I’m almost exhausted already just looking at that schedule for September. There is a lot on and I just hope that they all do well.

Another first for Ireland is the recent announcement that the World Poker tour is coming to these shores for the first time. A €2,500 buy in event will take place in the City West Hotel from 5th to 8th January 2012. This event is being sponsored by who, I assume, will be running online satellites. More on this in future columns.


Congratulations to Fintan Gavin who just took down the Edinburgh leg of Poker Stars UKIPT. Fintan, who lives in Co. Galway, overcame a field of 519 players to take the first prize of £61,500 and the UKIPT title. You can see how he did it on Channel 4 television in September as part of the UKIPT coverage. Very well done sir.

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

Tuesday 2 August 2011

WSOP 2011

WSOP 2011
By Mick McCloskey

With all the side events completed, there have been no final table appearances for the Irish contingent and, unfortunately, not a lot in the way of cash returns. As I write, Day 3 of the main event is in progress and it looks like Day 4 will be bubble day. Still in the mix are Eoghan O'Dea, Nick Heather, Nick Newport and Pete Murphy, along with a few lesser known players. Best of the bunch so far, in the side events has been Omaha specialist Dave Callaghan from Dublin who narrowly missed out on a final table seat when he was knocked out in eighth place in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha 6 handed event. He picked up $53,210 for his finish, the highest return for any Irish player in this year’s series. Next best was Galway’s Jude Ainsworth who picked up a total of $36,342 for two cash finishes. Most prolific of the Irish in WSOP events were Eoghan O'Dea and Dara O'Kearney with three cashes each.

Despite the closure of the major online poker sites to American players, and lack of access to online funds in some cases, the numbers for the WSOP side events this year were generally up on the previous year. Poker players are a resilient lot so, if they can’t play online, they might as well turn up in Vegas to play live. There certainly seems to be a lot more cash action this year and the main event numbers have been more than general expected. I will update the Irish results in my next column


This is a brand new event on the poker calendar and was backed by Irish Eyes The €260 + 40 main event was held over three days in mid June at the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk. The organisers included two Northern Irish based players, Paul Lecky and Seamus Birt along with Martin Silke, who organised a similar event in his native Mayo earlier in the year. For this size of tournament, the structure was excellent with a 15,000 starting stack and 60 minute levels. It certainly attracted good numbers for a new event with 200 players turning up to try their luck. The good structure was probably a factor in the eventual deal made between the final six players who decided to chop the remaining prize money based on chip counts. Aidan McAllister was declared the winner and took home the trophy and $9,300. The rest of the money was divided as follows:-

2nd Alex Scullion €7,100
3rd J.P. Whyte €6,475
4th Stephen Neeson €5,830
5th Con O’Sullivan €5,520
6th Jeff Jones €4,925



Following a bit of a breather during the early summer, for those who weren’t in Las Vegas that is, the late summer and autumn sees a marked increase in the number of Irish events. First up is the annual trip to Cork for one of the only week long poker festivals in the country at the Macau Sporting Club in the City, scheduled to run from 15th to 21st August. Included in the schedule are PLO events, short handed events, turbo events and satellites leading up to the €500 + 50 three day main event. The buy in has been reduced this year from the previous €1,000 entry fee so we may see more runners as a result. The main event will have two starting days on the Thursday and Friday. I’m a bit intrigued by the final event on the Sunday when you can choose your own buy in, either €100, 200 or 300, with a €30 reg. fee. Not really sure how that works but will no doubt find out.
The Macau Club always put on a good show and the hospitality during the festival is next to none. Full details can be found at


The same weekend in August sees the Grand Final of Season 4 being held at the Regency Hotel in Dublin. Players can qualify or buy in direct for €175 + 25. Further details can be found at I’ve never played in any of these particular events but have take part in something along the same lines. If this event is anything like the ones I have experienced, it should be a fun weekend.


Another major European Tour comes to Ireland for the first time from 25th to 28th August. The Unibet Open main event has a €1,500 + 150 buy in and the venue is Dublin’s City West Hotel. I believe that this tour attracts a lot of European players and has other stops in Malta, Barcelona and Riga. The main event has a 20,000 starting stack and has two day 1s on the Thursday and Friday. Full details can be found at


The start of September sees the return to Ireland of the Poker Stars UKIPT for the Dublin leg of the tour. The venue this time round is the Ballsbridge Inn from 8th to 12th of the month. The €500 + 60 main event will have a guaranteed €250,000 prize pool and will be capped at 700 players. If past experience is anything to go by, this will be a very popular event so, if you want to be part of it, early booking may be advisable. You can try to qualify online at Poker Stars or, failing that, buy in directly online. Full details are not available as I write this but I would assume that there will be two starting days for this event. Check out the website at for full details.


Irish snooker pro Ken Doherty has opened a snooker club in Terenure Cross, Dublin 6 at the rear of Brady’s pub in Terenure Place. Ken is also quite fond of a game of poker and has decided to combine the two disciplines under the one roof. He is currently running a cash game there on Thursday nights and hopes to run poker there most nights of the week in future. Here is your chance to take on a living legend at snooker or poker. I would suggest you may have more of a chance at the poker table than the snooker table. Whatever your choice, good luck. Ken is quite handy at both games. Details, mostly regarding snooker right now, can be found at or you can call the club on 01 515 6092 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01 515 6092 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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

Monday 4 July 2011

Vegas Trip in Tipp

By Mick McCloskey

News has just come through that a proposed major development in Co. Tipperary has received planning permission to build a brand new complex which would include a casino, a 500 bedroom hotel, a horseracing track, a Greyhound racing track and a golf course. The 800 acre site would also include a full size replica of Washington DC’s White House and a heliport. It is estimated that the complex would provide around 1,000 construction jobs over a three year period and would create 2,000 jobs in the long term.
I don’t know when the original plan was put forward but, in these economically challenging times, I’m not quite sure if the country is ready for such an ambitious project, especially one which is quite some distance from Ireland’s capital city. For the casino part of the plan, there would also have to be a change in the law relating to gaming, although such a change has been in the pipeline for a while now.
Whether the project will go ahead right now or will be put on the long finger, only time will tell. It is certainly an ambitious looking scheme and would probably be a great venue for major poker tournaments in Ireland in the future.


The tour rolled into Cork in May and attracted 602 players from 28 countries to the Rochestown Park Hotel for the €500 + 60 main event. The winner was England’s Sam Razavi who took the trophy and €71,000 after a heads up battle with Ireland’s David O’Connor, who had to settle for the consolation of taking home €41,200. Quite a nice first entry to have on your Hendon Mob profile for David. In third spot was Germany’s Martin Mulsow who picked up €25,200. Martin got really unlucky when he had pocket Aces cracked by David’s AK.
Unusually for an event with two starting days, day1a had more players than day1b. UKIPT Tour boss, Kirsty Thompson put this anomaly down to the Queen’s visit to Cork City on day1b but I’m not quite so sure. Part of the problem, I think, was the fact that Poker Stars online site had stopped taking registrations for day1b for at least two weeks before the tournament. I assume that this was to encourage more people to register for day1a but, I think that this strategy may have backfired a little. Players were left with the impression that day1b was full and were unwilling to travel to Cork unless they were guaranteed a seat in the tournament. I don’t think it helped that Poker Stars had decided to run this event by themselves without a local organiser in Ireland who could have kept the local players up to speed on the availability of seats for each day. I really feel that the numbers for a tournament of this quality could have been higher in Cork. Hopefully, Poker Stars will have a look at this issue for future events in Ireland.


This is a grassroots tour which organises events all over Ireland throughout the year. Each event awards tickets for the annual Grand Final to the top qualifying players. The Grand Final took place in the Dolmen Hotel, Carlow at the start of June and the qualifiers were joined by anyone willing to put up the €600 + 75 buy in for the main event. The numbers were probably a little disappointing for the organisers with 136 players taking to the tables to fight it out for the title. Even with these modest numbers, the 20,000 starting stack and the slow structure ensured lots of play over the three days needed to find a winner. With 16 players being paid, a deal was done at the end of day 2 to pay the bubble, so 17 players returned for the final day. Another deal at the final table between the last three saw Dublin’s Tom Kitt take the title and €19,200, which included a €1,100 ticket for EMOP, Dublin and a €600 ticket for next year’s CPT Grand Final. The next two also had CPT 2012 tickets included in their prizes. Dimitri Pembroke was second for €15,200 and Tommy Walsh took third for €14,700.



This festival takes place in the Grand Hotel, Tramore from 22nd to 24th July. The buy in for the main event is €400 + 40 with a guaranteed prize pool of €40,000. This is one of those Irish festivals with its own unique atmosphere. Maybe because it’s held in a small friendly hotel, in a family orientated seaside resort, at the height of the summer holiday season but there is definitely a holiday feel to the whole thing. It’s not the best hotel in the world but the general friendliness and helpful attitude of the staff more than compensates for that. My room is booked already. Full details can be found on


Yet another Europe wide tour comes to Ireland for the first time this year from 28th to 31st July. The venue is the Clontarf Castle Hotel and the buy in for the main event is €1,000 + 100. Satellites are available on Irish Eyes Poker as well as on other sites on the Entraction network. There are two starting days on the Thursday and Friday. Not much more I can say about this event as I have never played any of their tournaments but, as this is stop 4 of Season 3; they seem to have some experience behind them. Further details can be found on


Although it’s quite a way off right now, I think it deserves a bit of advance publicity because of what I can only describe as its epic scale. The man behind the Boylepoker IPO, Stephen McLean, along with fellow tournament directors John Scanlon and Lee Johnston, has come up with an ambitious plan to seat up to 4,000 players at the same time, same venue, at the end of February next year. The venue is the City West Hotel, Dublin and the buy in for the three day event is €300 + 40, creating a possible prize pool in excess of €1million. Actually, looking again, they plan to get to the final 9 at the end of day two as day 3 (the final table) will take place a month later at a yet to be announced venue. I checked with Stephen to make sure he hadn’t totally lost his marbles and he assures me that the plan is perfectly feasible and that the venue can quite easily accommodate that number of players at one sitting. He is already running a series of live satellites at various venues around the country so, look out for one in your area. Further details can be found on and on Irish Poker Boards.


It’s that time of year again when many Irish players head off to Las Vegas to take part in, or just to soak up the atmosphere at the WSOP. By the time you read this, I will be there myself and I hope to report back on any Irish success stories in the next issue. In the meantime, I just want to wish all the Irish players out there the very best of luck on their trip.

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

Monday 6 June 2011

Irish Title Returns

By Mick McCloskey

The title of Irish Open Champion returned to these shores after an absence of 3 years when Co. Clare’s Niall Smyth overcame a field of 615 players and a tough heads up against the very experienced Surinder Sunar at the Burlington Hotel over the Easter weekend. Niall picked up €550,000 for his weekend’s work as well as an extra package worth €100,000 for winning Paddy Power’s Sole Survivor promotion for online qualifiers. Sunar took €290,000 for runner up spot with Denmark’s Martin Petri coming third for €180,000.
Niall revealed that his success had all come about after he placed a €10 each way bet with Paddy Power on the winner of the English Grand National. He used his winnings to play an online satellite and went on to spin it up into an Irish Open seat worth €3,500. The rest, as they say, is history.

Talking of history, the last Irish born Champion, winning the title at the same venue in 2007, was someone else called Smyth, Marty of course. It was a case of almost like old times when I ran into Marty and Nicky Power in the hotel foyer at the end of play on day two. By this time the field was down to 55 players, who were all in the money. Just like 2007, all three of us were still in the mix, with Nicky going on to make the final table and Marty winning it. This year, also just like 2007, Marty went on to outlast the pair of us!

I must put my own deep run in this year’s Irish Open partly down to my first day table draw. I spent the whole first day in the company of Neil “Bad Beat” Channing and felt very relaxed all day chatting away to Neil. Well, to be honest, Neil did most of the chatting, as he does. But it did keep the atmosphere at the table in a light mood, or so it seemed to me. Not too sure how the rest of the table felt but, I was enjoying his company so much that I gave him a double up when his chip stack started to get a bit low. That’s the kind of guy I am. Actually, it was one of those classic race situations, my poor Pocket Queens versus his mighty AK. It also helped that I got a double up of my own early in level 2 when a young aggressive player floated my flop and turn bets before firing out a river bet and pushing all in after my raise. Unfortunately for him, I had made the nut full house on the double paired board and he could only beat me with quads. When I made the call I actually thought it was going to be a split pot before he announced he had no hand!

Virtually everyone I spoke to this year agreed that the new starting stack of 20,000 chips, doubled from previous years, made a big difference and provided a lot more play this year. The sponsors, Paddy Power, also did a great job in providing live online streaming all weekend. This included a feature table as well as roving reporters and camera teams and a studio area where Jesse May talked to various high profile guests. Well done to Iain Cheyne and all the live streaming team for all their work over the weekend. Having watched the first two TV shows on RTE I’m afraid to say that these productions failed to live up to the high standards set by the live streaming team.

One other matter I have had issues with in the past at Irish Opens, and I really thought it should have been sorted by now, was the payout structure. Most major tournaments worldwide these days pay out around double the tournament buy in to any player making the money. This year just over 10% of the field made the money, 64 of 615 players. The reward for the first 8 to be paid was a payout of €4,100. A measly €600 profit for outlasting a tough field for a full two days of play. After paying for their travel and hotel expenses, they didn’t really have much to show for their efforts. I really think it’s about time the organisers had a look at this issue again.
After all is said and done, the Irish Open is Ireland’s premier poker event and I would really love to see it continue going from strength to strength in the future.


J.P McCann’s Masters event was held over the first weekend of May at the Ballsbridge Inn, Dublin. J.P. and his team provide, in my opinion, the best run, best organised and best structured events in Ireland and I always look forward to them. This year the numbers suffered a little mainly from a combination of the tournament being squeezed between two other major events in Ireland, namely the Irish Open and the Poker Stars UKIPT in Cork, and also a move to this new venue, away from his natural customer base around the Tallaght area of Dublin. J.P. does a great job at grassroots level, and now around Europe as well, and definitely deserves better support than he got on this occasion. Despite the numbers, the weekend went without a hitch, with a load of added value and prizes for those lucky enough to cash or bubble all tournaments. The €500 main event ended in a four way deal with Tony Rafter taking the title and €14,875 in prize money. Eoin Olin took €13,330 with John Gallagher taking €11,400 and Con Collins picking up €11,000.

As a side note, it seems to help some players if they don’t actually manage to turn up at the right venue for the tournament. I reported on the Dublin Deepstacks event a few months ago when a player turned up at the wrong hotel and then went on to make the final table of the main event. Something similar happened at the JP Masters when a player, who shall remain nameless, apart from sometimes being known as “Doke” managed to turn up at the wrong hotel on the first day. To be fair, he went to the hotel where the event was held in 2010 so a mistake anyone could make, but didn’t. Anyway, he had the last laugh as he went on to make the main event final table and take home a nice wad of cash, assuming he managed to find his way home!


The Dept of Social Development has published a discussion document in the run up to a possible change/update in the North’s gaming laws. As regards casino games, there would appear to be no changes on the horizon, apart from a possible clampdown on Bingo halls trying to doubles as mini casinos. As regards poker, there seems to be a possibility that poker tournaments will be allowed in pubs and registered clubs, subject to certain limits, yet to be established. All of this will depend on the attitude of the as yet unnamed minister in charge of the Department, following recent elections. Being new to the ministerial job, I’m not expecting a quick resolution to these matters from the new assembly in the North. You can view the document on the DSD website.



With the WSOP getting into full swing in Las Vegas, there’s not much on the horizon for the home based players. One exception is a new event scheduled for 17th to 19th June at the Fairways Hotel in Dundalk. The Northern Open is being organised by Martin Silke along with Paul Lecky and Seamus Birt and has a buy in of €260 + 40 and a guaranteed prize pot of €40,000. The starting stack will be 15,000 chips with 60 minute levels. Irish Eyes Poker are sponsoring the event and running online satellites twice a week on their site. Further details can be found on Irish Poker Boards.


Player Ireland is in the process of setting up a new website which will include a list of Irish poker events. Casinos and tournament organisers are invited to send details of their upcoming events to

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

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Pastures New

By Mick McCloskey

As some of you might know, I have been producing an Irish column for Poker Europa magazine for a just over the last six years. Unfortunately that publication has recently gone out of business after twelve years of reporting on the European poker scene. Consequently, I was put out to pasture, as it were. But, as they say, “Whenever one door closes another one opens.” I have now been given the chance to continue with my scribbling by the editor of Player Ireland, a chance for which I am very grateful. Over the coming months I will endeavour to bring you all the news from the Irish poker scene and details of upcoming events as well as opinions on various issues regarding poker and any interesting stories I may come across.
For those of you who don’t know me from Adam and for those who do but maybe don’t know my history, here is a little bit of background.

I first started playing poker some thirty years ago, so obviously I’m no internet whiz kid. In those early days I played mostly Dealers Choice cash games. Some of these poker variations were weird and wonderful but they certainly kept you focused as you were playing a different game virtually every hand. It was a really good education for the all rounder. Around this time some local sports clubs and other organisations started running fund raising poker tournaments and the game of choice at that time was half pot limit Five Card Stud, in my part of the world, Northern Ireland. The same sort of thing was happening in the Republic of Ireland, with the game there being mostly Five Card Draw. After fluking my first tournament win, I was hooked on tournament poker. Some time later I met Terry Rogers, the legendary Dublin bookmaker and Godfather of Irish poker. Terry had come north to organise a fund raising tournament which had a first prize of a trip to Las Vegas and entry into a WSOP side event. I failed to win this prize but was totally fascinated to hear stories about this great event being held in Binion’s Horseshoe every spring. So fascinated that I promised myself that one day I would go there to see it all for myself. That day came in the spring of 1987 when, under the wings of Terry and Liam Flood I made my way to Las Vegas for the WSOP. That was one hell of an experience. In those days all the Irish players got the full Las Vegas VIP treatment. Limos, shows, free rooms, food and drink. I hadn’t played much Texas Hold’em before so that trip was a learning experience for me. I had to learn pretty fast to avoid going broke in the cash games. I learned so much on that first trip that the cash action back home seemed pretty easy after that. Since that first trip I have been to Las Vegas pretty much every year since then. In the late 90’s I started to spread my wings when tournament poker became a bit more prevalent and I began to travel a little to the UK and Europe to play some events. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided to take a year off work in 2000 to play full time. I spent 3 months of that year travelling around Nevada and the West coast of the USA with a friend, visiting virtually every card room there was at the time. The rest of the year was spent travelling and playing in Europe and the UK. At the end of the year, or more like 13 months as it turned out, I had actually made money during my travels. After bagging my biggest ever cash, in an online tournament at the end of 2004, I gave up work and have been writing and playing full time ever since. I play mostly in Ireland these days but still manage the odd trip away now and again. There’s just so much going on in Ireland that there’s not such a great need to travel any more.
I don’t for one second claim to be a great technical player, so don’t be expecting any strategy advice here but what I have done over the years is build up a great number of valuable contacts in the professional poker ranks and in the poker business in general so, if I don’t know the answer, I probably know a man who does. So feel free to get in touch with any queries you may have regarding the poker scene in Ireland and beyond.


My last outing in Ireland was to the Irish Omaha Masters at the Eglinton Casino in Galway. The €500 main PLO event was won by local pro, Derek Murray, who took home €6,000 after a three way deal with Vincent McNella and James Groark who picked up €4,500 each. In what I believe was Ireland’s first ever Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament, Sonny Murray and Frank Dunleavy took €395 each with Donal MacAonghusa picking up €200 for third spot.

As I went specifically to play the Omaha events, it was a bit ironic that I ended up winning the final event, a €135 Hold’em tournament. Still trying to figure that one out! It was actually a three deal between myself, Barry Murray and Joe Sweeney. The records show my official share as €1,450 with the other two lads getting €1,300 each. Just noticed that it seems to have been a great help to have the surname Murray that weekend.



The next major event in Ireland is the Poker Stars UK and Ireland Poker Tour leg, coming to Cork for the first time from 18th to 22nd May at the Rochestown Park Hotel. This tour has been getting great numbers recently with new records being set in the Nottingham leg at Dusk till Dawn and I would expect good numbers for Cork as well. The main event buy in is €500 + 60 and there will be two starting days on the Thursday and Friday. Full details can be found at


This a €200 + 20 buy in tournament scheduled for 28th to 30th May at Fitzpatricks Casino in Limerick. For further details log onto


After a series of qualifying events held around the country, the Celtic Poker Tour Grand Final takes place in the Dolmen Hotel in Carlow from 2nd to 5th June. The main event buy in is €600 + 75. Full details can be found at

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

Tuesday 5 April 2011


By Mick McCloskey

These awards, organised by, were held in February at the Fitzwilliam Card Club in Dublin. The awards were the result of a public online vote and the winners of each category were as follows:-

Best Irish poker blogger – John O’Shea

Best poker forum – Irish Poker Boards

Biggest Contributor to Irish poker – Boylepoker

Best online poker site – Poker Stars

Best club/casino/tour in Ireland – Poker Stars UKIPT

Most improved player on Irish poker scene – Sean Prenderville

Best TD/Organiser/Club manager – J. P. McCann

Best poker event 2010 – Boylepoker IPO

Best online player – Jude “J. Thaddeus” Ainsworth.

Player of the year – John O’Shea

Lifetime Contribution to Irish Poker – Padraig Parkinson

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for these awards in 2010.


There has been some talk lately that online poker was struggling in the current economic climate. If all the sites are struggling like Poker Stars they should be doing OK thank you very much. The 5th anniversary running of the Sunday Million has just taken place on Stars, who guaranteed a total prize pot of $5million for this $200 + 15 buy in event. The winner was guaranteed $1million as well as a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo 5.2 litre V10 super car. In the event, the amount of money up for grabs was more than double the guarantee at a staggering $11,825,600. The number of players trying their luck was a record breaking 59,128. Can you just imagine how big a venue you would need to run this as a live tournament? The number of players who made the cash in this event was 7,450. This number is something like the total number of entries to the world’s biggest tournament these days, the WSOP main event. There seems to be a bit of life left in online poker yet.
For the record, the winner was Luke Vrabel from Connecticut, U.S.A. who took just over $671,000, as well as the car, after the final 9 did a deal to chop the remaining prize money. Nobody actually got more than $1million with the top cash payout being around $844,000 and the smallest being $263,888. Not a bad return for a $200 investment.



The main event in Ireland this month is the Irish Open, scheduled to run over the Easter holiday weekend in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel. Things kick off on Thursday 21st April at 7pm with a €200 + 20 super satellite with rebuys for the first three levels (90 minutes). The four day main event, starting on Good Friday at 2pm, has a buy in of €3,200 + 300 and this year features a 20,000 starting stack with 60 minute levels for the first 6 levels and 75 minute levels after that. Ireland’s richest festival also features a full schedule of side events over the weekend, including a €825 Pot Limit Omaha event and a €330 Ladies Championship event.


The beginning of May sees the 4th edition of this popular festival being held in Dublin’s Ballsbridge Inn from 5th to 8th of the month. Things kick off on the Thursday night with a €150 short handed tournament at 8pm. This is followed at 10pm by a €100 super satellite for seats to the €560 main event. On Friday there is a €100 last chance turbo satellite for main event seats. The €500 + 60 main event starts at 6pm and features a 30,000 starting stack with 60 minute levels, increasing to 75 minutes for the final table. There is a full schedule of side events over the weekend including a Pot Limit Omaha tournament and nightly turbo events for the action junkies.
Full details of the festival and hotel deals can be found at

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Wednesday 2 March 2011


By Mick McCloskey

I heard a funny story at the recent European Deepstack Championship in Dublin. I spoke to the man involved so I’m sure he is happy enough to have his name in print after his escapades. His name is Fergal Cawley. He lives in Co. Sligo and would not be a regular in Irish ranking events but he decided to come to Dublin to play in this one as a friend of his was playing. Unfortunately, when he arrived in Dublin he headed to the Burlington Hotel even though the tournament was actually taking place in the Ballsbridge Inn. After looking around the hotel foyer for any signs of a poker event, he asked the people at reception about the poker tournament and, naturally enough, no one knew anything about a poker event in the hotel. So, he called his friend and told him he was in the hotel but could not find the tournament room. The tournament was already well underway by this stage so his friend gave him directions about how to get from the hotel reception area to the tournament room. Fergal hung up and went off to search for the poker area, as directed, again without much success. He called his by now exasperated friend again to tell him that he still could not find the poker room. The two now decided that the next logical step would be for Fergal’s friend to get up from his own poker table and for the two to meet up in the hotel reception area. Naturally enough, as they were still in separate hotels, this plan was no more successful than the previous ones as the two lads stood waiting for each other in different parts of Dublin. So, it was onto the phone again and, eventually the penny dropped. Fergal finally made his way to the right hotel, found his table and seat and sat down to play poker, some four hours late.

The story has quite a happy ending though. Fergal managed to double up after playing only two or three hands and then went on to make the final table and finished in 6th place for a €14,200 payday. I’m not quite sure how Fergal’s friend reacted when the two met at the first break (the first break they happened to be in the same hotel that is) to be told that Fergal had by then twice as many chips as he had, despite only playing for about an hour or so compared to his friends 6 hour session. Perhaps his 10% share of Fergal’s winnings helped to dull the pain and the possible sense of injustice. After all, how can a man play proper poker with all these distractions going on!



After what seems like a deluge of poker tournaments coming thick and fast in Ireland, the month of March and the early part of April, before The Irish Open, is pretty much free of major events right now, especially for Texas Hold’em fans. There is a little something for Pot Limit Omaha fans in the form of the Irish Omaha Masters, scheduled for the 25th and 26th March at the Eglinton Casino Galway. The €500 + 50 main event is a triple chance affair with a 10,000 starting stack and two more chunks of 10,000, for a total of 30,000 chips, with 60 minute levels and is set to run for two days. The tournament starts at 7pm on the Friday night, with a cap of 108 players, playing 6 levels on the first night meaning, with breaks, a 2am finish to day 1.The main event action continues on Saturday at 3pm.

Saturday at 5pm sees the start of, what I believe, is Irelands first ranking Pot Limit Omaha 8 or better tournament. This is also a triple chance tournament with 10,000 chip stacks and add ons for a total of 30,000 chips. The levels are pretty short at 20 minutes so the action should heat up pretty quickly. The buy in is €90 + 10.

For the Hold’em fans there is a €135 + 15 freezeout of Saturday night at 8pm with a guarantee of €5,000.

Sounds like a different and interesting weekend, if you like that sort of thing. Full details can be found on Irish Poker Boards or on For details of local accommodation email or call 00353 (0)91 569222 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 00353 (0)91 569222 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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Tuesday 1 February 2011


By Mick McCloskey

After nearly two years of public consultations, the Irish Governments Department of Justice and Law Reform has now published a discussion paper entitled “Options for Regulating Gambling.” From my understanding of the document, it seems that the department is generally in favour of reform of the current laws and of setting up a system to control and licence local and online operators. Their general opinion is that trying to outlaw gaming, especially online gaming is, based on the evidence from the USA, a non starter. The department would look to set up a body to control and to licence casino operators and casino employees in Ireland. It would also look at the possibility of regulating online gaming sites with a view to making Ireland a base for remote gambling operations. It makes a case for the employment and taxation opportunities that would arise from investments by such online gaming sites.

In addition, the report looks favourably at the possibility of allowing one or more Resort Casinos to be licensed in Ireland. The definition of a Resort Casino is along the lines that it should probably include a hotel with facilities such a golf course, a Spa and an entertainment centre, as well as a casino, all on the one site.

While all of this looks like good news for supporters of legalised and available gaming it will all be up for debate in the Irish Parliament at some stage and will be the subject of a vote by the politicians in power at the time, probably after a general election in the country. I’m not sure that the legalisation of gaming would be top of the agenda for a lot of the politicians but, the possibility of additional taxes for the cash strapped Irish economy may be enough to sway the vote in favour of reform.



This festival, scheduled to be held in Castlebar, Co. Mayo from 24th to 27th February is a new addition to the Irish tournament circuit and features a 3 day main event with a buy in of €300 + 40. The venue is the Breaffy House Resort and the main event starts at 4pm on Friday 25th February with a guaranteed prize pool of €40,000 and a 15,000 starting stack with 60 minute levels. A full programme of side events has been included. are sponsoring the event and full details can be found on their website. are also running online satellites and have facilities for buying into the tournament online.

What the website does not tell you is that Sunday night at the venue is pretty much party night. The main activity, apart from the poker, is a charity boxing tournament to raise money for the local boxing club and the Mayo/ Roscommon Hospice. This is not your usual boxing tournament as it will feature a total of 6 bouts between some well known Irish poker players, casino owners and tour operators. There could be a few grudge matches here! Names on the card I have so far include the Eglinton Casino’s Fintan Gavin, fighting in the heavyweight division obviously, Neill Kelly of Big Slick Poker and Liam Delaney of Celtic Poker Tour. Experienced referees and corner men will be provide by Castlebar Boxing Club and fully trained ambulance crews will be on standby.

After the blood has been mopped up off the canvas, the boxing ring will be used for the final heads up battle for the first Western Open title and, after that there will be live music and, more than likely a little drinking to be done to while away the night. This sounds like a fun way to round off the weekend so you may want to think about booking your room for Sunday night and giving work a miss on the Monday.


Last month I included an item in my column indicating that The Grosvenor UK Poker Tour intended to hold a leg of the tour in Ireland in September. I have now been told that this leg has had to be postponed due to quite a bit of tournament congestion in Ireland that particular month. The Unibet Open, the Poker Stars UKIPT and the Shorthanded Championship are all scheduled for around the same time. The GUKPT organisers really only had the one available spot in September so they have decided to look at another date in 2012 instead. I will let you have details of any revised dates as soon as I get them.

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Monday 3 January 2011


By Mick McCloskey

It’s a new year and many people use this time to make resolutions to change old habits and try to adopt new, healthier ones. My wish for the New Year, and for the future, is that tournament sponsors should stop using hidden charges to boost their income from the players. My idea of a good sponsor is that of a company willing to spend a bit of money in order to boost their public profile and to attract new customers, not to piss off their existing ones.

Examples of what I’m talking about include the inclusion of hotel deals in online satellite packages at prices which are patently higher than those which could reasonably be obtained by any savvy travellers by themselves. Then the sponsor refuses to refund the hotel costs to anyone not needing accommodation or wanting to make their own arrangements. This also includes sponsors negotiating so called “special deals” with hotels which can quite often be bettered by people walking in off the street. And also, what happens when players leave the hotel early, for whatever reason? I don’t imagine the online sites are tripping over themselves to make sure that the player gets a refund for any unused hotel nights.
Another example is to invite online qualifiers to a welcome party and then deduct an excessive amount from the online package to cover their costs. For some of the figure involved I could manage a good night out and dinner for two. Again, there are no refunds for anyone not attending the welcome party.

Another wheeze is for the sponsor to arrange other quite unnecessary extras for their qualifiers and then to charge them for the privilege, whether they avail of the extras or not.

It’s not as though the sponsor has to add anything to the package. After all it is entirely the players’ money which produces the online qualifiers, and produces profits for the online site running the satellites in the process.
I’m not saying that all sponsors are the same and there are some out there who are more than generous to their qualifiers. I am not going to name names but, if the cap fits.........


The new year kicks off with two ranking events in January and another at the start of February.


This is a new addition to the tournament calendar and is a joint promotion between Waterford Poker Club and The Loft Card Club, Naas. The festival takes place from 20th to 23rd January at the Westgrove Hotel, Clane, Naas, Co. Kildare. The main event has a buy in of €220 + 30 and has a guaranteed prize pool of €50,000. Details are posted on Irish Poker Boards.


This established event is scheduled to run from 28th January to 1st February in the Park Hotel, Clonmel. The main event has a buy in of €220 + 30 and carries a guarantee of €40,000. This is another joint venture, this time between Big Slick Events and Celtic Poker Tour. Details can be found on their websites and also on Irish Poker Boards.


The first major event of the year takes place in the Ballsbridge Inn Dublin from 1st to 6th February. The buy in is €500 + 50 for a 50,000 starting stack to play in this four day event. There are two starting days, each with a capacity of 500 players. This is a very popular event among European players and it sold out a month in advance last year, leaving many Irish players locked out. Although the capacity has been increased this year, it may be a good idea to register early to make sure of your seat and your preferred starting day. Online satellites for seats are running on various sites. Full details and online registration is available at


The well established Grosvenor UK Poker Tour has announced their intention to bring a leg of the tour to Ireland. The event is provisionally pencilled in for September 2011 with the venue most likely being in Dublin. This tour has been running in various Grosvenor Casinos around the UK since 2007 and usually involves a full week of tournaments culminating in a £1,000 three day main event, with two starting days. There is £200,000 of added value for the 2011 season including prizes for leader board winners and a massive freeroll for the winners of all main and side events over the season. Watch this space for further details.

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