Irish Open Days 1-2
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Nowhere in the world do poker and the 'craic' combine to such entertaining effect than in Ireland. Whether it's being hugged by random locals, drinking more Guinness than is humanly possible, or listening to the endless tales of Scott, Jesse, and Padraig as they prop up the bar, Dublin is by far the most enjoyable stop on the European circuit
Nowhere in the world do poker and the 'craic' combine to such entertaining effect than in Ireland. Whether it's being hugged by random locals, drinking more Guinness than is humanly possible, or listening to the endless tales of Scott, Jesse, and Padraig as they prop up the bar, Dublin is by far the most enjoyable stop on the European circuit, and one which all look forward to with a great deal of excitement. But, of course, it's not all one giant 'piss-up' (well, not quite), as this week was the small matter of the Irish Open at the lavish CityWest Hotel, in which 700 poker enthusiasts lured from around the globe were looking to whisk off the Channing crown and snap up that sumptuous €600,000 first prize.
As espected, day one turned out to be a star-studded affair with the likes of Phil Laak, Dan Harrington, Jennifer Tilly and 2006 WSOP champion Jamie Gold all gracing the felt, as well as more homegrown talent such as Andy Black, Liam Flood, Nicky Power and wizard of the alternative green baize, Ken Doherty. The first man out was of equal magnitude, if not more so, as online titan Brian Townsend was sent crashing from the feature table after a nasty set-over-set confrontation. He was soon followed by Albert 'Honey Man' Sapiano whose full house was no match for a larger house that made it on the river and also former champion Marty Smyth whose torturous venture came to an end when he ran jacks into a pair of American Airlines that remained in flight.
Naturally, the chip lead changed hands like a hot potato, the responsibility of overnight daddy finally resting on the shoulders of Bradley Verburg with 108,800 who was a gnat's pubic hair in front of Maurice Harmon with 106,375. Also finishing strong was the Unabomber on 63,675 who was quieter and more focused than usual, as well as Julian 'Yoyo' Thew who disregarded his alias by grinding his way up gradually to 61,050. Also noticeable in his presence was Charlie Ciresi, usually spotted in suit and tie as a tournament director at many of the world's most high profile events, but dressed in casual wear this week as he took a more than respectable 51,350 into day two.
Day 2 witnessed the usual splattering of carnage onto the poker canvas, the neighbouring bar acting as an emergency room for all the opening level casualties. Perhaps the departure that grabbed the most attention was that of Neil Channing, the defending champion visibly gutted as his A-K failed to out-coinf flip pocket queens, thus bringing his mission for back-to-back titles to an abrupt end. Also exiting stage left were Tony Cascarino, Tim Blake, last year's runner up Donal Norton, and Ashley Hames, the latter famed for being filmed in more uncompromising situations than I've had hot dinners.
As the bubble loomed, you could cut the tension with a toothpick, never mind a knife, the thought of having ploughed through so many players only to go home empty-handed enough to make even the hardened of faces wince with fear. But, of course, somebody had to feel the splash, and in the end, that man was Ronald O'Hara whose tournament life came to an end when he ran A-T into the A-Q of Andreas Kyprianou and failed to improve. Then came the usual flurry of exits that tend to proceed the bubble, 72 elated cashers turning into 64 within the space of 10 minutes as Sean Donalson, Packie Quinn and the wonderfully named Roar Wang hit the deck just moments prior to the final whistle.
Heading into Day 3, it's Andy Bradshaw and Lee Brooke-Pearce who share a chip-leading 283,500 whilst Andrew Pantling, who was among the top three for most of the day, leads the chasing pack with 282,100. Of those names familiar to the masses, Dave 'El Blondie' Colclough (48,800), Pascal Perrault (31,700) and the tournament's last remaining eye candy Kara Scott (151,600) remain, whilst Roy 'The Boy' Brindley will be looking to add a final chapter to his recent book entitled 'Irish Open Champion' with a just-below-average 107,100. Unfortunately, he's going to have 63 others vying for that honour.
Keep posted for more regular updates from Day 3 and the final day tomorrow...