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.