Sunday, May 30, 2010

Irish picks for a bracelet

It's that time of year when every poker player's thoughts turn to the bright light city.

With the English having such a good year last time round, it's time for us Irish to stand up and be counted.

We can't have the old enemy taking all the glory! Marty Smyth was our last bracelet winner in 2008 and after an abysmal year for the Irish in 2009, I'm sure we can nick at least one this year.

There's another twenty I could have chosen, but I'm going with these half dozen as our best chances. I believe the following have that extra intangible something, an innate ability to win tournaments.

1. Derek Murray: I watched Derek win an FTOPs for $125,000 recently; he just slaughtered the field from 100 players out. Primarily an online MTT expert, he has a string of good live results. Murray will be entering the series with more confidence than ever before and can continue his magnificent form this year in Vegas.

2. Peter 'The Multiplier' Murphy: Best known for turning grains of rice into paddy fields of dollars in online challenges. Peter has an unrivalled record in reaching major final tables in Ireland over the past two years. It's only a matter of time before Pete takes down a major title and it could easily happen at this year's WSOP.

3. Marty Smyth: When Marty beat Neill Channing heads up at the world open, Neil commented, "Marty is an amazing player, you don't even know the guy is in the room until he's leaving with the winners cheque". On my introduction to this piece I spoke of players with the innate ability to win tournaments. No one compares to Marty for this ability. After an unbelievable 2008, where he won everything, 2009 was relatively quiet for Mr Smyth. I fully expect a return to form and hopefully a second bracelet.

4. Jude Ainsworth: Jude is simply a beast of a poker player. Having won the Irish Poker Championships in 2008, Jude kicked on with a number of huge scores online, culminating with the 2009 SCOOP Championship with a million dollar first prize. Anyone who watched that final table would know just how good a player he is. A number of high finishes on the EPT circuit this year, where he seemed to amass huge stacks at ease will put him in good stead for the challenges of the summer.

5. Padraig Parkinson: With all Padraig's media functions, it is generally forgotten how good a poker player this guy is. I've never forgot and he reminded everyone else this year, being crowned Irish Champion. Padraig practically invented the small ball style that is so successful in the modern game. Having spoken with him at the Irish Open, it's clear Parkinson's focus is firmly on finally getting his bracelet this year and I think he just might do it.

6. John O'Shea: Fresh from his recent WPT Championship final table, John's confidence is at an all-time high. Inquisitive, driven and hugely talented, John plays most variants of poker and has a full schedule planned. It is almost a lock that he will feature deep at some stage over the six weeks and hopefully he brings one home.

Monday, May 10, 2010

JP Masters Festival

I love this festival - JP puts a huge amount of work into getting every detail right and constantly strives for improvements.

Chatting with him after last year's festival, he wanted to find a way of finishing earlier without any compromise of the great structure.

The previous two years the final table ran into early Monday and he wanted to give the finalists a chance to celebrate. His solution was to introduce ante's at the 100/200 level and to go eight handed as early as possibly; it worked a treat.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to play eight handed for long. I lost a quarter of my stack to a Silky set. Another quarter not connecting with multiple cheap flops over five hours and the last half pushing a flopped flush draw verses top pair.

The two side events went no better. In the €300 I slowed played Queens expertly - unfortunately my opponent held Kings. The €150 saw another early exit getting it in pre flop with the boots verses the Fox's tens.

Similarly to the recent Celtic poker tour game, this is filled with players who are used to playing much faster structures. Hence, a huge amount of value for players who play the better structures regularly.

Amazingly, Sean Prenderville went back to back. Some performance again, I'm sure there is a bit of run good involved to achieve such a brilliant feat, but Sean must be doing a hell of a lot right at the same time, so a huge well done to him.

Another three that are showing great form are Jason Tompkins, second in the CPT and bubbled the final table here in a couple of coolers, Donal O'Connor who had double final tables and Dara O'Kearney with a forth and FT in the main side at JP's game. Well done to all.

Well done also to the Waterford lads who managed to cash. My friend Pat Storan who is getting back into the grove with a double cash, Jim Ringland and Gally who was second in the €150 for a nice €4,000.

I had another good chat with JP Sunday. I think he was disappointed that the numbers were slightly down on last year. I told him I thought breaking the 200 mark in these recessionary times was a great result.

As we rambled on about how the recession was affecting the poker ecosystem, it really struck me why I've always been so supportive of this guy. It was clear that the cash wasn't good over the weekend, this obviously means less profits.

JP's distress was focused on the fact that dealer's tips were down and his main thoughts were about counter-acting this next year, to ensure the high quality is maintained for future events.

He told me his hierarchy of objectives when running an event are:

1) make sure everything is spot on for the players
2) ensure he has the best dealers and it's worth their time to work his events
3) make a few quid for himself.

This ethos is exactly why I've always said JP is the best tournament operator in the country.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I've somehow managed to nip onto the cover of this months Cardplayer Europe. Rebecca McAdams was very nice to me in this linked piece. Although I feel calling me a role model is probably taking her artistic licence a little far. Cardplayer