Top of the Morning (Dublin – Part One)

After a recent meeting with my excellent and ever-patient sponsors we decided that I wasn’t going to fly off to Vegas until the WSOP this year. With the launch of they wish to concentrate on pursuing degenerates on this side of the Atlantic and felt this would be better served by sending me to Ireland.

The Irish Poker Open isn’t a bad alternative to the WPT Championship event. It has added money, the final is live on Sky Sports and it only means a few days away from the Vic. It may possibly also have occurred to my backers that they can save about $25,000.

Within 12 hrs of leaving the Vic I’ve reached Dublin, a place I’ve never visited. It seems very nice and they even have a rive named after my good friend Rory.

The venue for the tournaments is bright and spacious and the tables and chips look brand new. All those afternoons in the Vic firing elastic bands at the girls behind the cash desk seem to have really paid off for Barry Mundy as he seems to have this tournament lark by the bollocks.

My table in the first tournament had Henning Granstad on it. Henning joined a growing list of Norwegians who I regard as top fellas during a recent trip to London. He had come over for a couple of days to play a TV tournament and decided to pop into the Vic for his last night. Three weeks later he left England after changing his flight 7 times and "popping in" on 16 more occasions.

Tradition seems to dictate a few of the rules in these tournaments, and the problem with Friday’s E400 Re-buy was that it was very hard to spend more than E400. You had to go completely broke to get more chips and there was no add on. This meant that not long into the freeze out the tournament became a complete crapshoot with 12 big blinds the average.

The tragedy for me was just as I was beginning to look forward to a good old crapshoot I managed to get all mine and Henning’s chips into the middle pre-flop. His Jacks soon improved to beat my Queens and I was off to the sidelines. I had only had a brief time playing with Mike Caro on our table but you can see why they call him mad. Why they call him genius was only slightly less apparent.

I went off to eat and drink a bit too much, (as a man with a less than average number of gall bladders virtually anything is a bit too much), with Des Wilson and Joe Beevers. While we laughed and joked in the bar poor old Henning was having to graft away for hours just to get 30k for his part of the split.

On Saturday I got up early and with time to spare I walked for 20 mins into Dublin. This is a great place and must be a World Centre for busking. Walking down Grafton Street was like stumbling onto a film set for the sequel to "The Commitments". There were trumpets, bagpipes and fiddles galore as well as rather too many puppets and lots of street artists. It must be a struggle to simply offload a Big Issue here.

I soon found an excellent internet cafe and had a quick glance around the poker and Betfair world for an hour or so. This very nearly distracted me from the fact that I was beginning to get quite nervous about the Main Event.

Neil Channing is sponsored by and