Irish Open 2007

So, this was it then! My first major poker tournament and it was to be in the Fair Isle of Ireland. A chance to meet and play against the top players, the club players, the net players, the drunks and the no-hopers for a share of over 2 million Euros. And what was even better, I was going to Dublin armed with a generous package earned at an on-line tournament hosted by the good folks at Full-Tilt!

Life was good as I stood on the deck of the ferry easing its way across a calm Irish sea, under a cloudless night sky. We arrived in Rosslaire early in the morning, and then a few hours later, I found myself standing in the dazzling city of Dublin, wondering at the transformation of the city and the people since I’d last visited nearly a decade ago. Capital City of Europe or What!

In the evening (which was Thursday of Easter week), I went to Shanahan’s swanky restaurant off St. Stephen’s Green for the Full-Tilt dinner which was, as they say, wicked. For someone who has been mostly so far an internet player, the idea of meeting and dining with “the Big Boys from the Telly” over a few glasses of fine Red Wine is, well, again, wicked. I was determined to make the most of a good situation. It was a great night and I went to sleep looking forward to the next afternoon.

And so it was that I found myself in the lobby of the Burlington Hotel soaking in the general atmosphere of the pre-match tingle that preceded the start of the 2007 Irish Open. Only the Irish can wish someone a thousand welcomes and not be seen to be over-compensating!

So, what was my plan of action?? Well, personally, I thought, if Lady Luck gave me a little nod and a wink at the right time, and that was combined with some brilliant play on my part, I was in with a shout of earning a bit of cash. OK, unrealistic for a first big real-world tournament? Who knows? At any rate I was determined to play as I best I could, and so while were sat waiting for the final tenth person to arrive and the tournament to began I was relaxed but slightly nervous. Finally, Carlos Mortensen breezed in to fill the last seat, and then with a magisterial Liam Flood metaphorically blowing the whistle, we were off.

So, how did it go? Carlos was first out of the tournament getting his Pocket Blasters exploded by two Kings catching a lucky flush…”Jeeves, the Bucket!!” I guess it set the tone for the tournament. With a brutal blind and ante structure, aggressive play was obviously the order of the day and I started really well, catching some nice hands in the first few hours, generally getting well paid for them and finding myself at dinner break well above average. Sweet! Then, a long period of getting marginal cards in marginal positions, though I did miss a big pay off by not playing small suited connectors.

Honestly not the best I could have played. I eventually ended up going all-in early in the second day and losing with a KT off, one before the button with all folded down before me. I’d gotten myself short-stacked, not ultra desperate and with hindsight probably could have held on another round, but I guess it boiled down to a coin-flip situation and a double-up would put me right back in the hunt so overall I’m not too disappointed with my decision, though I did realize afterwards it would have been a better final heads-up play!!”. I got a caller in Chris Mormon who had more chips and two Sixes, who’s a great player and he didn’t mind the gamble. The fact that Fortuna went off wining and dining him rather than me is just one of those things of life and poker.

I went off into Temple Bar to drown my sorrows in the black stuff, but wasn’t that down really and had a great time in the Fair City of Dublin. The next day I went back and chilled out in the Burlington. I would have gone into some of the ring events, but I thought the house rake was too high for the cash games and was too slow getting the cash together for the 1000 euro tournament, but it was a brilliant atmosphere in the main event room, so I stayed and followed the action which was wild. Big players, Big Event.

I’ll know I’ll be back there next year, it’s always tough to get into the Pay Zone, but whatever else happens, you sure to enjoy the craic!