Wednesday 7 November 2012

The Craic

By Mick McCloskey

One of the things that I think make Irish poker tournaments special and unique is the social aspect. Most of the major festivals are held over three or four days in nice hotels around the country. It gives the players a chance to relax and meet up with old friends and to meet new ones in surrounding and in an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable. The majority of festivals seem to fall into this category but one recent event, for me, fell a little short. The contrast between two particular events was pretty easy to measure and the solution very simple. The two tournaments were held two weeks apart, had the same level of buy in, same sort of numbers, were both held in the same Dublin hotel, The Ballsbridge Inn, but there the similarity ended when it came to the social aspect.

The first event was the Poker Stars UKIPT (718 runners) and the large bar area immediately outside the poker room did not have a single table or chair for people to sit and relax and enjoy a drink. Consequently, the room was mostly deserted over the weekend apart from people passing through or buying something from the bar.
Two weeks later at the Winamax short handed championship (656 runners), same hotel, same room and the place was buzzing with a great atmosphere. The difference? Plenty of tables and chairs around the room for people to use.
So, come on Poker Stars, some tables and chairs in the bar next time please. It’s not rocket science.

IRISH 100’s

This event was an ambitious attempt to create a €50,000 prize pool from a €100 entry tournament. With 457 entries and re-entries over a number of starting days the organisers fell a little short of the 50K guarantee but paid out the advertised amount anyway. The winner, Mustafa Gultekin walked off with €11,000 with Declan O’Connor and Robert Shanley picking up €6,800 each.
The €400 + 40 Irish Omaha Championship was held as part of this festival but only managed to attract 23 entries. The winner, for €4,600, was Colm Faulkner.


This festival, sponsored by Winamax, attracted 656 runners for the €500 entry 6 handed main event. The winner was England’s Steven King who took home €63,000 for his efforts. Second spot and €54,300 went to Belgium’s Michael Gathy with third spot and €34,190 going to Portugal’s Paulo Ferreira.


Held over the same weekend and just up the road at Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Club, this was a bounty tournament with a $600 + 50 buy in with $100 from each entry going as a bounty prize. The event was shortened to two days as there were only 73 entries. However, the structure over the two days was as player friendly as you could ever want to experience. If a certain beer company did tournament structures, this would be it.
The winner, for $12,827 was Janos Jeszek with Adam Treanor taking $7,653 for second place and Darius Dirkus picking up $5,093 for third spot.


Held as usual in the Gleneagles Hotel, Killarney, this is always a fun weekend with plenty of entertainment laid on. This year had a slightly smaller field for the €500 main event at 569 but still exceeded the €250,000 guarantee.
The final result was anything but usual with at least three great performances deserving a mention. Firstly, the defending champion, Lars Torngren, put up a great defence of his title before exiting in 18th place when he had his pocket Aces cracked.
Second, Ladbrokes pro, Jon Kalmar, managed back to back main event final tables finishing in third place this year after finishing in forth spot in 2010.
Finally, the winner was Niall Smyth, this year’s Irish Open Champion, adding another great title to his poker CV.
The final three players actually did a three way deal taking €45,000 each and playing for an extra €10,000 and the title. The other player in the mix was Eamon Doran who finished second.
There was some talk over the weekend that the festival may be moving to a new venue next year. However, a spokesman for the Gleneagles Hotel Group told me “We are very optimistic that the event will go ahead in 2012. Discussions are ongoing and an announcement will follow soon.”


This is another one of those Irish fun poker weekends and this year’s event lived up to it’s advance billing with an increase in numbers bringing an international mix of 1,388 players to Dublin to play in the €225 main event. The starting stack was increased to 15,000 this year and with an improved structure another new twist was added to the mix. Rather than play the final table into the small hours of the morning, a WSOP main event type scenario was introduced with the last eight players meeting again on 26th November to complete the tournament, playing for a top prize of over €50,000. The venue is Ken Doherty’s Snooker and Poker Club at Terenure Cross, Dublin and a live stream will be broadcast on the day through the Boylepoker site. Friends and relatives of the “November 8” will be able to catch the action in Brady’s Pub, next door to the venue. More on the final in my next column.
Story of the tournament so far has to be the Lazarus type recovery of Irish poker veteran, Scott Gray. Scott was involved in a Boylepoker promotion which paid the top 20 players involved in the promotion an extra €1,000 on top of any prize money. Apparently, Scott was so intent on getting the extra bonus that he almost anted himself out of the tournament. After paying his ante he was forced to blind off his last 1,000 chip when the big blind was 5,000. He managed to win that pot and, at one stage ran his stack up to around 500,000 before he was eliminated in 21st place. He got the bonus by the way.


The Firzwilliam Festival is scheduled to run at the Dublin club from 23rd to 29th November with a series of events culminating in the €800 main event which includes a €60 bounty and €40 for reg. This has got to be the cheapest registration fee for any event, anywhere, considering that players usually get treated to a hot meal as part of the deal. If you know different, let me know. Full details can be found at

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Sunday 4 November 2012


By Mick McCloskey

In the last stop of Season 2 of the Poker Stars UK and Ireland Poker Tour, before the Grand Final at EPT London, an impressive 718 runners stumped up €560 each to create a prize pool of €348,230 which was paid out to 90 of the original line-up. Taking the lion’s share, and his second UKIPT title, was Dutchman Joeri Zandvliet who takes home €83,500 for his efforts. Joeri won his first UKIPT title in Manchester last year. The runner up was American Chuck Fabian who had to settle for €49,600. Third spot and €30,700 went to Hungary’s Robert Csire, who resides in Ireland. Forth place went to the defending Dublin UKIPT Champion, Max Silver who didn’t give up his title without a fight. Best of the Irish were Jason Tompkins and Noel O’Brien who finished in 5th and 6th spots respectively. Jason, coming off a good win in the recent Waterford Open, started the final table as chip leader but couldn’t maintain his momentum and had to settle for €17,600.

A bit of a talking point among some of the players over the weekend was the minimum payout at this event, which was €650 compared to most of the other UKIPT legs which paid a minimum of £/€750. As it was day 2 of the tournament before any players were paid, a €90 profit didn’t go a long way to cover the players travel and hotel expenses. In fact I would suggest that many of the players who cashed in the lower spots actually lost money on the deal. Considering that the Dublin leg attracts players from Europe as well as the UK, a little better reward for actually cashing may have been in order.


This annual festival, run by the Macau Club in Cork, is one of Ireland’s longest running poker events but, because of the times we live in, and probably because of the packed poker calendar, it has seen a steady decline in numbers over the last couple of years. Consequently, a decision was made this year to reduce the buy in from €1,100 to €550 for the main event. This helped the numbers but the event has become just one of a number of €500 tournaments that players have to choose from. I noticed that none of the guys who used to travel over from the UK for this event turned up this year. Despite this, it’s good to see that the legendary Macau Club hospitality remains in place with the club still laying on the best poker buffet in Ireland. Talking about legendary, possible future legend, November Niner Eoghan O’Dea turned up to play in Cork over the weekend, courtesy of tournament sponsors Betfair. He was telling me that he was in the process of signing a sponsorship deal with Paddy Power Poker.

156 players entered this year and the tournament ended in a three way deal with the title and €19,000 going to Paul Curran. David Croke and Tony Collins took home €15,000 each for second and third spots.

A special mention must go to Alex Lopez who took down the €300 PLO event as well as a €270 NLH side event during the week. I hadn’t come across this young player in Ireland before but having played with him in Cork, I think he may be one to watch out for in the future.


This is yet another one of these Europe wide tours making its first stop in Dublin this year. The event was held in Dublin’s City West Hotel and had 260 players anteing up €1,650 each. I didn’t manage to make it to this event but, by all accounts, it all went pretty smoothly with the help of some of our experienced local tournament organisers. The majority of the players travelled from Europe and Scandinavia, with a smaller than expected number of Irish and UK based players and this was reflected in the final table which had no Irish representation. The winner was England’s Paul Nunes who picked up a juicy €105,300 for his efforts. Second place and €66,300 went to Denmark’s Emil Pederson with Dutchman Pim van Riet taking home €39,000 for third spot.

One complaint I did hear about this event was that for a €150 reg. fee the players did not receive a player buffet or even a food discount voucher which could be used in the hotel. Bit mean I thought. Maybe Unibet thought that spending the money on a live internet feed would be more satisfying for the players. Another issue I heard about was that 5% of the prize pool was withheld for a leader board promotion effectively making a 15% registration for each player. I know that this extra 5% deduction actually effected some players’ decisions about whether or not they played the event.



The Boylepoker International Poker Open comes again to the Regency Hotel, Dublin from 21st to 23rd October with a mission to set another new record for numbers playing a poker tournament. Last year 1,293 players turned up with the winner taking home over €50,000 for an outlay of €180 + 20, and the organisers are hoping to improve on that figure this year. The starting stack and the structure have both been improved this year and the buy in has been increased to €200 + 25. Another innovation for this year is a November 9 type scenario with the final table scheduled to be played out on 26th November at a yet to be announced location.
With a mixture of well known poker pros, celebs and players from all over Europe in attendance, this is, for me, one of the most fun weekends of the year. Only online entries are being accepted so if you want to be part of a possible record breaking event, sign up at now.


The Paddy Power sponsored IWF is scheduled to take place in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin from 28th to 30th October, starting with a €100 + 10 (rebuy) super satellite for the €1,100 main event on the Friday evening. The three day main event starts on the Saturday afternoon. A full schedule of side events is planned for the weekend including the Blind Mans Bluff World Championship and the Irish Mythical Championship.


The start of November (3-6) sees the return of J.P. McCann’s Mini WSOP which just happens to coincide with the final table of the real thing over in Las Vegas. The event on this side of the pond is a much more affordable affair with the three day main event costing a modest €360. It takes place in the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin and offers a full schedule of side events including short handed and heads up events and a 8 game mix event. JP intends to have a live feed from Vegas in the hotel over the weekend so that we can all keeps tabs on how Irish contender Eoghan O’Dea is getting on. We will all be rooting for you Eoghan. Take it down.

If you have any news, views or events you can contact me by email to
You can also check out my website for archive articles, Irish poker news and links to Irish poker sites.