Friday 12 July 2013


Mid Summer in Galway has for many years been synonymous with the week long Horse racing festival at the famous Ballybrit course just north of Galway City. The week has also been well known for the poker action breaking out in various hotels around town every night.

Local Poker Player and Poker promoter, Fintan Gavin, has this year decided to bring a bit more organisation to the whole thing by teaming up with online poker site Full Tilt to run 24 hour cash games and a total of 60 tournaments starting on 27th July, for two weeks. The festival will include not just poker but Pool, 25's, Bridge and Open Face Chinese. As they figured there was nowhere in town big enough to host all this action, they decided to build their own tented village for the duration! The location, I believe, is near the harbour, close to the City centre.

The Poker Festival kicks off on Saturday 27th with The Galway Cup, a €135 + 15 NLH tournament with an estimated prize pool of €100,000.

The Festival also includes a UK versus Ireland heads up competition with a very strong looking Irish team. This event is scheduled to be streamed live. Look out for links on the official website (see below)
The Festival also includes the Irish Poker Championship with a buy in of €2,300 + 200.

The poker action culminates with the UK and Ireland Poker Tour main event with a guaranteed €1 million prize pool. Players can qualify online at both Full Tilt and Poker Stars.

A full schedule of events can be found here:

For a bit of background, check out Fintan's own blogs here:

Galway has always been a fun place during Race week and this combination of Racing and Poker, along with the other events looks absolutely awesome! I can't wait.

Sunday 12 May 2013


 Full Tilt Poker is bringing Ireland’s biggest ever series of poker events to the West with the inaugural Full Tilt Poker Galway Festival.
The Festival will take place from July 29 – August 12 with the highlight being the five-day €1,000,000 guaranteed UKIPT Main Event, running from August 8 - 12. All the action on and off the felt will take place at the custom-built Full Tilt Poker Village right in the heart of Galway city.
Full Tilt Poker will host a wide range of events throughout the two-week long festival; adding even more excitement to a city already buzzing with people participating in Galway Raceweek, which runs from July 29 – August 4.
The Main Event is just one of over 55 tournaments and events taking place, including the Irish Poker Championship, the UK v Ireland Heads Up Challenge and, for the first time ever, the Irish Bridge Masters.
As well as the chance to compete for a wide variety of prizes and major tournament titles, Full Tilt Poker qualifiers will also benefit from exclusive promotions such as the Last Longer, which will see the last qualifier standing win a prize package for every remaining main event in the UKIPT season. On top of this, qualifiers will receive bundles of extras such as an invite to Full Tilt Poker parties, drinks vouchers, custom avatars to use online, the Full Tilt Poker player bag brimming with merchandise, and lots more.
Prizes will be awarded to any player that wears a Full Tilt Poker patch and knocks out the most number of opponents, finishes on the bubble or is the first to get knocked out. In addition to this, there will also be a Players’ Lounge, free Wi-Fi, and enhanced concierge service for all.
Gus Hansen of The Professionals – Full Tilt Poker’s premier players – will be competing in the UKIPT Main Event; as will the Full Tilt Poker Ambassadors, a team chosen to represent the tour and interact with players on and off the felt. A bounty will be on the head of each Ambassador, with prizes up for grabs for any player who knocks them out while wearing a Full Tilt Poker patch.
Full Tilt Poker players can win prize packages and seats to the UKIPT Main Event online from as little as $1.10. Satellites kick off today from 10.25 ET with the first qualifier beginning at 15.30 ET.

Wednesday 27 February 2013


This article was first published in March 2005

Is poker success down to skill or luck or fate? Or is it a combination of all of these?

I have had a few experiences that would seem to suggest that fate may play a part. One of these relates to a trip I made to Barcelona in September 2003 for the Barcelona Open tournament, the predecessor of what would become the 1st leg of the European Poker Tour the following year.

When I arrived at my hotel I was allocated room 13 on one of the floors. (I can’t remember which.) I really didn’t think anything much of it and carried on with business. Over the next 2 or 3 days I played in various tournaments and satellite games and some cash games. Whatever I played in, I couldn’t seem to do anything right. I couldn’t win a flip to save my life. Even if I had AK against an Ace with a smaller kicker I still couldn’t win!

After about three days of this torture, I decided that my room number may be the root of the problem. So, I rang down to reception to ask if I could move to a different room. The guy at reception seemed very concerned and asked if there was something wrong with the room. "No" I said, but explained to him that I was playing Poker and that the room number seemed to be unlucky for me. “Aaahhh” says he, knowingly, “I understand”

A room change was arranged immediately – a triumph for international customer services in Spain.

So, anyway, I entered the main event the next day and proceeded to get a very nice payday with an equal three way chop in the tournament

My new room number was 114. Number of players in the main event? 114. Scary or what?

Looking back at the results, I noted that the buy in for this event was €1,000 with a €50 Reg. fee on top. For this we were treated to a three course meal, with wine, in the casino restaurant. How times have changed!

Another similar experience happened in Slovenia about eight months later. The difference here was that I was running pretty good. I made a final table in one of the side events and won my seat for the main event in a satellite.

The main event was a two day affair and I was chip leader when we got down to the final table of nine at the end of Day 1. After the chips were counted, the seating draw for the final table took place. The way they did this in Slovenia was that that the lowest stack got to draw the first seat and so on down the line. So, when it got to me, there was only one seat left. Table 8, Seat 8. Now, this sounded quite good to me as I had recently read somewhere that under some Chinese birth chart, my lucky number was supposed to be 8.
In the final the next day, I never lost the chip lead and when play eventually got heads up, I had about a 3 – 2 chip lead.

After a bit of heads up play, I picked up a pocket pair on the button. I made a standard raise only for my opponent to move all in. I made the call and he turned over AQ or AJ.

When the dust had settled, he did not improve and my pair held up to win me the tournament.

My pocket pair? 8-8!

Strange but true.

Thursday 24 January 2013


Since I no longer write for any magazines, I thought I might use this blog to have a look at some of my older articles which, I hope, are still interesting or relevant, especially to newer readers. So, let's start with a New Year review from January 2006. Have seven years really passed since then?

Poker for all. New Year - 2006
By Mick McCloskey

Another year has slipped by and, for some people, it’s the time to reflect on what has happened in the previous twelve months and to make plans, and perhaps resolutions, for the coming year.

My own reflections on the past year include my meeting a guy in Las Vegas a few days before the start of the main event of the World Series of Poker. His name was William ( Billy ) Rockwell. I had entered a small no limit tournament in Binion’s (Horseshoe) Casino and had taken my seat for the start of the event when Billy turned up to take the seat beside me. The first thing to grab my attention was that Billy had only one, apparently lifeless, arm. This observation was borne out when his girlfriend proceeded to remove Billy’s right shoe and sock. He planned to play cards using his toes!

As the game started, it was obvious that Billy had done this many times before. He had a large coin or medallion which he placed on his hole cards, for protection. He also had a little wooden wedge which he placed up against the edge of the table. He was then able to push his cards, one at a time with his toes, up the wedge so that he could peek at the corner of the card, without exposing them to the other players. He was able to do all this while remaining seated in his chair. He was also able to separate and push his chips into the pot using only his toes.

We got talking and he told me that he had almost died in a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager. The result of the accident was the loss of one arm and total disability in the other one. He was wearing a branded shirt and cap and, it turned out, that he had obtained sponsorship, from an internet poker site, to play in the WSOP main event. A shrewd move by the sponsor as Billy was almost guaranteed media coverage whether he did any good in the tournament or not. This was borne out when I was reminded of our meeting when I was watching the television coverage of the WSOP recently. There was Billy getting his 15 minutes of fame on network TV. He had managed to make it through the first day before getting knocked out on day 2. Not a bad achievement considering the huge field he had to survive.

 It was a real achievement in the first place that he could overcome his physical disability to play the game at all. I have seen other Billys, mostly in the USA, who have overcome enormous physical odds to sit, or in some cases, lie down at a poker table to play and compete in the game we love.

 So the next time you are tempted to whinge about a bad beat, or have to listen to one, just think about Billy and others like him. It might put the whole thing into perspective. And just remember that Billy, I’m sure, has taken his share of bad beats. His consolation is probably the fact that he is in a position to be there at all, to take them.