I headed off to Galway for strangely enough, my second Irish Poker Championship of 2009. I don't know the official line on whether it was the 2010 championship, so we'll go for the 20??
Fintan Gavin has a big say in how comfortable your stay in the smashing Radisson Hotel in Galway will be. As poker players take over the whole hotel, a number of suites on the executive 5th floor are available at very reasonable rates. Last year he gazumped me for the Devilfish at the last minute, but after much slagging throughout the year I ended up with a very luxurious room, so thanks for that Fintan.
I was up two days before the main event for one of the now famed Eglinton Casino parties. I couldn't miss this one as it was for my bro Derek Murray, to celebrate his recent great win in FTOPS 24.
We had a great night and Thursday was spent lazing around nursing a hangover. I did venture down to the Stars party to do an interview with Iain and Dara for Irish Poker Radio, but didn't take advantage of the free bar.
Day one was one of the hardest, most miserable days of poker I've ever played. Although I only knew Eoin Olin, it became apparent early that there was literally no value to be had on the table I was playing. It was definitely one of the hardest starting tables that I've encountered. This, coupled with the fact that my only hands over the day were in level two and in level 3, meant for a very difficult day's poker. I scraped through with 8400 over 13 big blinds.
I actually felt good about getting through the day and commented to a few people that while I was very low I didn't think I was finished with this one by a long way. It was my first outing for Boylepoker.com and I wasn't giving up without fight. I felt I could claw my way into the tournament.
A redraw saw Marty Smyth and big Al at my table but that broke after about one level. The new table had Mick McCool and JP Kelly and it was here that I caught a couple of hands. First, doubling up with v and then doubling again over three streets, having raised and hitting trips. This saw me reach 35k, which I was able to protect without much to work with over the next 90 minutes until I was moved again.
My new table had some good players - Matt Perrins and Jerome Bradpiece on my left and leader of the Irish rankings Francis ' Wally' McCormack and John Duthie to my right.
I caught a few hands here to get to 60k and then hit a nice double with to break the 100k mark. We were heading for the bubble where I'll be aggressive normally but some times you just can't. Perrins was on my left and being chip leader, it was his show. There wasn't a lot I could do except sit tight because of my position and hope for a premium, which never arrived. The day finished with 36 players in the money, I had 100,500 in chips, the equivalent of just over 25 big blinds.
I fought the good fight on day three and lasted into the end of the 4th hour of play, seeing off 20 of the 36 players that began the day. In that time I saw a few people that started the day with similar chips to me hit a few hands and win their races allowing them to gather final table stacks. I on the other hand, was hanging in on crumbs all day.
My exit was a straight race - v . I had 11 blinds but got it in with dead money in the middle so got the value of racing for 30 blinds, which was just under the average at the time. I can't but be happy with the performance here. I got myself in a position of racing for 5% of the total chips in play, when in all reality, with the hands I was dealt I shouldn't have made it through the first day. Would have been nice to win that race and run good, but if I keep putting myself in that spot I'll get my turn.
I stayed to rail an epic final table. Big Mick and Cat have been serial final tabling all year, so a big well done to them again. When the dust settled it came down to Padraig Parkinson and Paul Marrow heads up, both are great friends of mine so I was obviously thrilled for them. The lads chopped the cash shipping a generous amount to the dealers and charity, but still had a great battle with an EPT London and the small matter of being crowned Irish Poker Champion on the line.
Padraig took the title; people forget with all his other media functions how great a player this guy is. I never have and over the years when asked who the best player I have ever played is, I always answer Padraig Parkinson. The man is a wonderful poker player and a great guy who has helped me enormously with advice over the past few years, so it was great to see him take this down. He played a textbook final table and there was inevitability about the direction of the trophy from a long way out.
Having said that, if ever a tournament had two champions it was this one. Mister sartorial elegance himself Paul Marrow, is a huge character on the Irish poker scene and it was great to see him rewarded here. The memory that will stick with me is chatting with Paul after day one. He had made it through the day with 17k but his joy at this had to be seen to be believed. The guy was absolutely buzzing, I've never seen a person more happy getting through a day's poker that didn't involve lifting a trophy. I guess it says how much this guy loves the game.
Monday night was a brilliant craic in the bar. Overall the entire tournament was great, brilliant structure and I loved the way it was played over four days rather than the usual three. That's me pokered out for 2009, I'll do a review blog of my year some time over the holidays, have a great Christmas and a winning new year.