Irish Open winner Niall Smyth

Irish Open winner Niall Smyth

Friday, 2 March 2012

How did winning the Irish Open change your life?

I wasn’t really taking poker seriously before the Irish Open. I just played online now and again whenever I felt like it, but now I take it a lot more seriously – studying the game, managing my bankroll and so on. It gave me the money to set myself up properly and treat poker more seriously, to treat it like a job.

I never used to play many live events, but the Sole Survivor package from Paddy Power, I got €50,000 for the year to just play tournaments. I’ve done alright – I won another tournament down in Killarney. I still haven’t played any of the big European tournaments because I’m still not sure that I’m good enough to take them on. I just want to get my game a bit better and gain more experience in Ireland before I dive into those.

As well as winning the tournament, you also won the Sole Survivor promo…

Yes, it’s an amazing promotion, really. You qualify online at, outlast the other qualifiers and they’ll give you a hundred grand package, so it’s kind of like a tournament within a tournament. I think last year they had 140 players. I mean, it just so happened I won the whole thing last year, but I think the year before the guy who won the Sole Survivor came 12th, and that’s a massive difference in prize money.

Did it change the way you approached the tournament?

The only time it hit me during the tournament was when it got down to just two of us left in the promotion. I’d lost the chip lead at that stage and two guys to my left had more chips than me and were good aggressive players. The other Sole Survivor was short-stacked, so I was happy to play the waiting game for a round or two, but that was the only time it affected my game.

Talking of last longers, we hear you have something planned with Eoghan O’Dea…

Yeah, we are. Paddy Power are organising it, but I’m not sure what the forfeit is yet…

They told us it was a full body wax for the loser.

(Laughs) OK, well I’m not very hairy, so I guess that’s OK…

Why is the Irish Open a bit special?

It’s the longest running tournament in Europe and so many big name pros play in it. It’s the biggest tournament in Ireland every year – four days of poker and there’s a great social aspect to it. The atmosphere at the Irish Open is like nothing else. This year I’ve travelled to a lot of decent tournaments, but nothing compares to it. You just walk in the room and it’s like wow!

Be part of the craic and get yourself off to the Irish Open with the Last Chance Saloon qualifiers at Running from 18th March to 4th April, 75 seats are guaranteed over 11 tournaments, as well as an Irish Open Mega Sat on the 18th March with a whopping 30 seats guaranteed. Play six or more qualifiers to gain free entry to the Irish Open Very Last Chance Saloon, which guarantees one seat.

Remember, is once again running their Sole Survivor promo. If you qualify for the Irish Open on and manage to outlast all other online PPP qualifiers in the main event, you will win an additional €100,000 package, including cash and tournament buy-ins. You’d be mad to try to qualify anywhere else!

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