Easter weekend is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. For poker players in Ireland, it means one thing; the most important tournament of the year is upon us.
The Irish Open is Europe's longest running poker festival. The significance of the event in Ireland can be gleaned from the fact that the prize-pool on offer is greater than the next five major Irish events cumulative prize pools totalled.
The tournament has two major changes from last year; the structure and venue.
The structure for the Irish Open this year sees a couple of needed extra levels added. Also, those lucky enough to make day two will see an increase in the duration of each level from 60 to 75 minutes.
While these are major improvements, I still can't understand the resistance to an increase of starting chips from ten thousand. Sooner or later the stakeholders will have to fall in line with every other major poker event in the world and give a larger starting stack.
This year's tournament sees a return to the 2007 IO venue, the Burlington Hotel. I'm not aware of the reasons for the move from the City West, but both are great locations, so another fantastic festival can be expected.
The last time the Burlo held the event, I was lucky enough to be part of an epic final table. The final nine in 2007 included Peter Eastgate, Roland De Wolfe, Sorel Mizzi and eventual champion Marty Smyth.
I finished sixth for €100,000 having entered the final day 2/7 in chips, I was so disappointed upon my exit, that I drove straight home and didn't leave the house for three days! I somehow don't think I'd be as disappointed now about nicking 100k.
2007 was also the last time an Irishman kept the title on home soil. Hopefully we can see off the raiders this year.
If the budget needed for the Open is beyond your bankroll, the Bank Casino Cork are running an alternative festival. This have a main event buy in of €275 and hosts three side events, so something for most pockets on offer.