I thought the event had three big positives going for it; 1, Ireland has a history of a big field buy ins the first week in January. 2, the City west venue, overseas visitors like it and come back. 3, the brand, every poker player in Ireland would fancy a crack at a WPT title.
As it played out, the event was a resounding success attracting a field of 333 starters, including a host of big name stars from around Europe. In fact it could well of been the best field ever assembled in the country. Dom Hever who blogs for irishpokerboards described the field as " being like the Irish Open, without the 300 bad players".
One area where the WPT people got it very wrong was the chips. Each denomination of chip was a plethora of colors with the 5000 and 100 chip closely resembling each other. Barney boatman was the main sufferer of this when he mistakenly opened for 15,000 instead of the intended 300 and a player put him in holding QQ. Barney call with 1010 for a very unfortunate exit.
While the tournament itself was a huge success, my own display was an abysmal failure. Looking at some of the starting tables I had definitely drawn a good one. However that wasn't much consultation exiting in level five.
|all the cool kids are wearing these|
As the tournament progressed Dave Shallow became the dominant force. The home contingents performance wasn't great with the notable exception of Ronan 'Gilly' Gilligan, Ken Doherty & Dan Smyth.
The 1997 World Snooker champ taking down a major poker title would of been the biggest headline grabber. However, the talented Doherty's run would end in a creditable 16th place finish.
Dan Smyth, owner of a surname that's synonymous with taking down major Irish events looked like making a big challenge for the title, when he grabbed the chip lead two tables out. Dan has a fantastic online record but a number of reversals saw his commendable challenge peter out in 11th.
This left Gilly as the remaining Irish hope. A Galway based player Ronan was rooming with my mate Derek Murray. Derek has mentioned to me on a number of occasions that he rates Gilligan very highly as a player and relayed to me pre-tournament that Ronan had won entry in a $50 satellite and his intentions were to play the event as it it was a $50 buy in rather then a €2,500.
True to his word, Gilly got his full 300 big-blind starting stack in verses two sets (one folded ) in only the second hand of the tournament, pushing a flush draw and never looked back. His third place finish was a swashbuckling display and is a fine addition to his 2nd place finish in the 2010 UKIPT Dublin for his CV.
In the end Shallow was a worthy winner of a fantastic tournament, which is a wonderful addition to the Irish poker calendar.