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Generation Next -- Eoghan O'Dea

by Noel Hayes |  Published: Mar 02, 2009


Eoghan O'DeaDecember is fondly remembered by many as a time of festivity and overindulgence, but before Dublin man Eoghan O'Dea had a chance to toast the festive cheer, his poker achievements had ensured that December 2008 would predominantly be remembered for his poker success and not for the presents under his tree. This was down to his victory in the iPoker European Championship of Online Poker III main event for the princely sum of $315,000, and his runner up finish in the Poker Million for $260,000.

When Card Player visited O'Dea at his south Dublin home, his first admission was that he nearly didn't play the ECOOP main event. He had been keeping unsociable hours in the preceding days, and had been up since 5 a.m. that morning so was feeling particularly tired. Upon realising there was going to be an overlay, he decided to press on and play the event. Fast forward 15 hours and he had just defeated his heads up opponent, "Piccajo", despite entering the heads up match with a significant chip disadvantage.

Rocky Road to Doublin'

"I hadn't been too involved early and had found myself low in chips, next thing I was all in three-ways on the flop holding a gutshot straight flush draw. The most beautiful 2 fell on the river and this was the first pot of note I had won all tournament." However, approaching the bubble, it didn't bring with it the momentum he had hoped.

Extremely tired and sensing his end was in sight he powered up his laptop and retired from his desk to his bed. When the next tournament break rolled around he took a quick nap. Enquiring if he had made precautions to set an alarm clock, O'Dea giggled and responded, "Ah no, I was dozing away and next thing I hear the buzzing noise from the poker client prompting me to take my turn."

From there he treaded water until the next break when another power nap was availed of. Again the buzzer noise of the poker client awoke him, and through hazy eyes he spied A-8 on the button - an easy shove given his chip stack. No sooner had he shoved than he realised that "the tightest player on the table" had made an under the gun raise, and duly obliged with a call and A-K.

As expected, O'Dea lost the hand, and with the blinds at 2,000/4,000 and a 400 ante, he was left feeling sorry for himself, nursing a 7,000 stack. What had gone before was only half the story. After a number of limpers, O'Dea limped 6 5 for over 50 percent of his stack, only to fold when the flop came A-K-J.

Next hand he was all in with 10-6 offsuit and won some chips. He continued to push his way back up to 35,000 chips while the blinds rose to 3,000/6,000. With 42 players remaining he found himself all in 3-ways holding A 4 against A-K and 8-8. The flop of 4 3 2 gave him more outs than he had time to count before the beautiful A fell on the river.

Turning Point

Full of confidence and armed with a chip stack, O'Dea pressed the issue further. With 18 players remaining he came out the right side of an ugly encounter when all-in preflop his 9-9 hit a set to bust his opponent's J-J. At this point, O'Dea left the comfort of his bed, and made his way back to his desk to fight for glory. Before long he found himself at the final table as the chip leader.

He made a difficult fold with the nut straight when the board flushed on the river and this set him back in his charge, leaving him heads up with just 20 percent of the chips in play. It was a bumpy ride from this point and O'Dea is quick to give respect to the third place finisher, "jornxx", who had proved a difficult adversary for some time before falling foul of A-A in his exit hand.

When O'Dea filled the nut flush on a paired board, he was facing a bet/ three-bet all-in. Using his entire available time bank he made the call and found his hand was good against a lower made flush. Now level in chips, he made giant strides towards the finishing line, and it wasn't long before he found himself all in on the flop holding top pair versus second pair. When the turn and river bricked out O'Dea was the ECOOP III champion and $315,000 better off. Not bad for an initial investment of $1,060.

Running Good

"I was like jelly, I was extremely tired but I was so pumped with adrenaline that I decided to go for a 20-minute run before calling down to my folks and meeting friends for lunch - this was a turning point for me, I had been running poorly for a couple of months before getting out of it in late November and the result and money was welcomed with open arms. It turned a good year into a great year," said O'Dea.

The following weekend he fought his way to second place in the Poker Million for a paycheck of $260,000. Having twice finished runner-up in the online satellites, O'Dea finally qualified for this event at the cost of $1,600. This was two significant paychecks in the space of a week and the latter result was achieved by defeating a field which was laden with big names such as Tony G, Ram Vaswani, Annette Obrestad, and the "Devilfish".

Keeping it in the Family

Eoghan O'Dea is the son of World Series of Poker bracelet winner, high stakes cash game player, and former Poker Million winner Donnacha O'Dea. However, he admits to not receiving much encouragement from his old man when he was younger, and his first flirtation with poker was through the medium of a "play for fun" computer game. Unsurprisingly, and like many of his generation, the seminal show Late Night Poker gave him the bug for the game.

At the young age of 17 he admits to sneaking a few quid online and playing 10c/25c no-limit hold'em when he was in sixth year of school. This proved to be a learning process rather than a profitable venture, and it wasn't long before he found his way to Dublin's Merrion Casino where his first effort at tournament play was a winning one.

When he completed his leaving cert, he undertook a one-year tennis coaching programme - using his spare time to hone his skills both online and live. Having grinded his way to a $14,000 bankroll on PokerStars, he decided to shop around and deposited $1,000 on the CryptoLogic network.

Future is Bright

Before long, O'Dea found himself playing the biggest games available online, turning his initial deposit into $200,000. He then moved his play to Boss Media where he admits to having an even more amazing run. He also had a short and marginally profitable stint in the 200/400 pot-limit Omaha games on Full Tilt, but decided that it wasn't a long term viable option to try and mix it with the best in the world. Instead he prefers the relative comforts of 25/50 and 10/20.

O'Dea now looks forward to repeat trips to Vegas and the bigger European festivals for some juicy cash game action, as well as continuing his online grind. Wherever the destination or whatever the game, one thing looks assured, and that is continued success at the poker felt for the young Irishman.