The Breaffy House Hotel, Castlebar, was the venue for the inaugural Boylepoker sponsored Western Open.
It's the type of event that epitomises every thing that's good about Irish poker. A well-run, excellently structured main event, plenty of support events, crazy cash action and a 24-hour bar, all in a self-contained arena.
I really like these types of games coming to new regions. They're generally very well supported by the natives and give regulars who travel the country from that area a well deserved break from pounding the road to the more familiar destinations.
A knock-on bonus is that for probably 50% of the field it's their first taste of a major poker festival and a lot of these will subsequently travel to other events in the future.
Martin Silk was our host and as is Silky's character, you'd expect something a little different; he didn't disappoint. On the Thursday night, celebrity boxing brought the crowds out in force.
The heavyweight bout between Fintan Gavin and Liam from Celtic Poker was the main attraction. Fintan never ceases to amaze and I was shocked to see some serious boxing skills on show in the match; check it out on Youtube.
The other quirk was taking 10% from the prize pool and splitting it between the chip-leaders on day one and two. I'm all for innovation and trying new things but I'm not a fan of this one. Giving ten times the buy-in twice, was too much and while everything was transparent here, I think it can lead to possible skullduggery if it became the norm.
My tournament went well enough. After scrapping through day one with less then the starting stack, I managed a good day two, getting my humble 13k to a respectable 220k by the time the bubble broke and we finished for the day.
There was 24 returned for day three and I made the final eight with about average. With five left I still had average chips but walked into a few hands here and exited for €3,000. A little disappointing to only get three as there was close to €50,000 still in the pot when five of us remained.
I went out pushing 14 blinds over a cut off raise, but the big blind and eventual winner Aiden Culllinane, woke up with a hand. I had played with Aiden for the three days and there was a Jamie Gold type of inevitability about his march to the title.
All in all, an enjoyable weekend with a satisfactory showing in the tournament so I can't complain. Well done to Aiden and everyone else who cashed and everyone involved in putting the festival together.