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Barny Boatman
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The Dublin Double

Report by Barny on Monday, 30 January 2006 at 6:38 pm

The City West Hotel in Dublin may just be the perfect venue for a poker tournament. It's easy to get lost in the rambling corridors but whichever direction you go in you have to go through several bars before you reach the huge conference hall. With a stage at each end and scores of poker tables it is on the scale of Benny's Bull Pen in Binions where the WSOP used to be held. And just as well, because the whole of Ireland was there. With 391 runners the Boyle Poker Irish Poker Championship was the biggest poker tournament ever held in Europe. Finding your seat was a lesson in Irish geography with each table being named after some poetic sounding town or village. For the few foreigners it wasn't easy. A lot of the place names seemed familiar, from songs or from whiskey bottles, but where were they? I knew it was a long way to Tipperary, but in which direction?

With a structure based on the WSOP main event there was a huge amount of play over the first two days and it was not until about 6.00am on Sunday that we had our final nine. At ten handed I lost a one million chip pot to Kieran 'Flipper' Walsh when his two pairs held up against my nut flush draw and as a result he went into the final as chip leader. I was lying third with a good stack but everyone had chips and with the blinds and antes now very high things were likely to change fast.

Everyone was playing with heart and determination and almost every pot seemed to be an all-in. I started badly, and having already lost a chunk I called a raise with pocket eights. I stuck in half my remaining stack on a flop of 4,5,5 but had to lay it down for the re-raise, and when I immediately got dealt the same pair again I knew there would be no backing off. So me and the other low stack got it in, and he showed Aces. Oh. I can never win with ‘em; let's see if I can crack em? I did, and my heart went out to the poor bloke.

From there I had a rush that took me to the chip lead four handed, but the chips kept moving and eventually I found myself up against The Flipper, who to his credit had remained relatively uninvolved. I played the hand badly and basically knocked myself out in fourth. Having made the most of my cards for three days it was a disappointing way to finish.

The whole final was played in good spirits, as you would expect with a virtually all-Ireland final played in Dublin, and Kieran emerged a worthy and popular winner.

Of course the main event of the weekend was the long awaited re-match between Ireland and the Hendon Mob organized by the tireless Fintan Gavin of

Played to the world heads up structure the matches took place one at a time as and when the contestants could be found. Match one was an intriguing tie between Padraig Parkinson and Ross. Padraig started strong and soon had a comfortable lead. Fintan's commentary was upbeat and if I didn't know better I would have said that the result was not entirely a matter of indifference to him. Ross made some great calls to get back in to the game and eventually triumphed. The pressure was off.

The next match was a real glamour tie between Ram and Andy Black. Pundits who set the over under for the length of the game at ten minutes proved hopelessly wide of the mark as all the chips went in on hand two. God only knows what garbage they were dealt in hand one. Ram has the best of it with tens against ace-ten and when the dust settled it was 2-0.

Joe's match against Christy Smith was also surprisingly fast at little more than an hour. Joe had ground his way to a commanding lead before the chips went in on a flop of 9, 10, J with Joe holding 9, 10 against J, Q. The two pair held up and the match was won whilst I was still playing in the tournament final.

Still, there was plenty at stake in the final match with the Irish hoping to improve on their previous 4-0 defeat. Fintan announced that we couldn't take the trophy unless we won all four, but apart from that he seemed to have lost his voice, or at least any taste for live commentary. My opponent was Irish League champion Paddy 'Dusty' McFadden. He played very well and made no mistakes but the deck just hit me in the face and he just didn't get a look in.

So, we did bring one trophy home, which is just as well because Ross's second son and my second godson Rocky Boatman is about to be born and we promised him a souvenir for his birthday.

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