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