The Dublin Winter Festival saw poker players gather at the Green Isle Hotel in Dublin. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
The mysterious reward
The Green Isle Hotel once again proved to be a magnet for Irish and international poker players as ambitious guarantees were smashed once again at the Irish Poker Tour stop earlier this month, dubbed the Dublin Winter Festival.
There was a total prize pool of €38,000 ($41,501).
The festival opened with €20,000 ($21,843) guaranteed as Mystery Bounty. It seemed like a big target for an event starting at lunchtime on Friday, but given 131 entries and 37 re-entries, the total prize pool was €38,000 ($41,501).
Anthony Gaughan took first with a €3,000 ($3,276) bonus and a €1,500 ($1,638) bonus but fell out in 11th place. The second bonus of €3,000 was not drawn throughout the FT knockout stages until Keith Brennan and Thomas Faulkner were playing in the knowledge that there was a huge upside in coming first. In the end, Tom prevailed, winning a total of €11,350 ($12,396) with Keith having to settle for €4,050 ($4,423).
The main event
Meanwhile, the main event began and the numbers quickly increased over the next day and a half until the original €100,000 ($109,213) guarantee was smashed (€195,000 ($212,964) was the final prize pool). In the end, James O’Sullivan beat out Derek Becker to receive a €39,000 ($42,593) advance after agreeing to the deal.
One of the best players in Ireland and a massive force
Remarkably, Derek’s partner Liz Kelly took third place with €19,000 ($20,749). At the start of the second day, a friend who had drawn Liz at the starting table asked me about her, and I shared my opinion that she is one of the best players in Ireland and a huge force.
At the recent inaugural Irish Poker Festival at the InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge, I shared some table time with James, who attempted an ambitious bluff on me. He told me at the time that he just wanted me to mention him on my blog. I replied that I would, but I had one rule: to never mention who would knock me out of the tournament (not wanting to give competitors extra incentive). On that occasion, he ended up eliminating me, but after removing that main event (not taking me out of it), I think I can begrudgingly mention it this time.
Unsuccessful for some
It was a complete failure for me. I entered it 14th on the leaderboard hoping to get a top 16 spot with some cash to get to 16th on the leaderboard worth €40,000 ($43,699), but after failing to get any cash, It fell to sixteenth place. I’ll be out of the country for the remaining stops, so my hopes of landing this free course are dashed.
Despite this, many of my friends and students had a good festival. Despite Paul Carr’s significant lead on the aforementioned leaderboard, he began to worry when his main rival Darren Harbinson took down the sideshow on Saturday in Omaha and earned 400 points. Paul then went all-in to try to rebound, taking second place in the closing 4/5 Omaha.
Keith has struggled with contrast fluctuations
Keith Touhey also had a great festival as he made two final tables, including a €13,500 ($14,749) result of fourth place in the main event after a disciplined late showing that was more respectful of ICM than most of his competitors. Keith has endured the ups and downs of variation since I first mentioned him on my blog, but to his credit, he gave in rather than buckled under pressure.
The unluckiest man at that final table was Colm Chan. With seven players remaining, he was second in chips to James, and both were miles behind the rest. Then pick up aces. After three-betting on James’ open, he responded to James’ four-bet with five bets. James called for pocket eights, and a combination fumbled and turned into quads to send Colm onto the rail. Colm is one of the classiest players and people you’ll ever meet, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he’s beaten by one of the top players.
Last special mention goes to my dear friend Kunal “Vautour” “Have you played with us before?” Prendergast.
Perhaps no one has played more Irish Poker Tour events than Conal, and he was so emotional when he finally cashed in, the Dublin 400 side event, that he broke down in tears. He eventually finished third in an event won by the impressive David Costello.
All roads lead to Green Island (or as my friend Pat Neary quipped when he suggested the title of this piece, “InterClondalkinal”) for the final event of the year in Ireland in the last few days of 2023.