Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


The Irish Winter Festival Takeover

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Jan 01, 2010


The PaddyPowerPoker Irish Winter Festival took over the Citywest Hotel in Dublin from October 23-26 with an array of events including the highly anticipated Irish Masters main event. The IWF was streamed live via the Internet, beginning on October 23 with the Paddy Power Poker Pro final table, and ending with the main event champion’s trophy presentation. It turned out to be a successful weekend for the Irish overall, with Derek Thorpe taking down the_ Paddy Power Poker Pro_ event, leaving with a package worth €60,000 to kick-start festivities.

Paddy Power Everywhere
The 398 players who turned up for the main event made for a nice variety of Internet grinders, local heroes, and international success stories. Competition was high throughout the weekend in every arena the name Paddy Power could be found. While players streamed into the Citywest Hotel, others made the shorter trip to their sitting room, office, or perhaps just stayed in bed, to play the Irish Winter Festival Online, a series which ran concurrently with the IWF, offering freerolls and money-added events.

To heighten the challenge in the live circuit, 62 Paddy Power Poker online qualifiers competed against each other while trying to outlast the rest of the main-event field, as they were also hoping for a package worth €20,000, which would be given to the last online qualifier standing.

The event of the most interest was of course the €1,650 buy-in Irish Masters. With a prize pool of €598,000 on the table, 398 players needed to finish in the top 40 in order to avoid leaving with empty pockets. Last year, Fiachra Meere beat a field of 423 to take down the top prize of €150,000. This year, the last man standing overall would be leaving with a just-as-healthy €143,000. Familiar names competing for the tasty first prize included Neil Channing, Nicky Power, Julian Thew, Marty Smyth, Irish Open 2009 Sole Survivor Marcel Koch, Donal Norton, Pascal Perrault, Steve Jelinek, Fiachra Meere, and rugby hero Reggie Corrigan.

Early Fatalities
Some of those who didn’t last to see the end of day 1 were Italian pro Cristiano Blanco, Brit Andrew Bradshaw, and Irish stalwarts Padraig Parkinson and Liam Flood. Experiencing a similar fate the very next day were Peter Murphy, Lee Brooke-Pearce, Surinder Sunar, and German International Poker Open champ Markus Sippe.

Neil Channing who has been successful in Irish events in the past (2008 Irish Open champion) was among casualties on day 2 also, after moving all in with A-J and getting a call from Chris Cooke with A-Q. Another former Irish Open champ, Marty Smyth (2007) was just as unfortunate when his set was beaten by Nicky Power’s flopped straight.

As the chip lead swung from William Kassouf to Jamel Maistriaux, and players marched forward into the depths of war, a new battle started alongside them, the two-day €500 side event. This saw another healthy field of 170, creating a prize pool of €85,000, and heightening the buzz on the tournament floor. Antony Lorieu would go on to take €22,450 for first place in this event the next day.

Excitement peaked when the main event bubble burst towards the end of the day. Marcin Nowicki was the unlucky player who held A-K versus pocket jacks. He managed to hit his ace on the flop, but his celebrations were cut short by a jack on the turn.

A field of 24 returned on day 3 with high hopes of seeing the event out to its death. Matej Kokalj was the chip leader at start of play with 643,000 in chips, but there were plenty of threatening players remaining such as Michael Murphy, William Kassouf, Nicky Power, Paul Leckey, and Stephen “allinstevie” Devlin, plus three Sole Survivor wannabes.

It wasn’t too long before Power hit the rail when his shove with Q-10 in the cutoff was ill-timed as John Cassidy looked down and found pocket aces in the blinds. The flop brought Cassidy a set, but things stilled look hopeful for Power with A-K-Q on the board. The turn and river were bricks and Power hit the rail, improving Cassidy’s chances of becoming the Sole Survivor winner.

The hope for a female champion was then dashed with the exit of Irene Van Loon. The lady from Holland pushed in late position with A-9 and Sole Survivor Paul Dooley made the call with K-Q. The turn brought a queen and Dooley’s short stack was doubled.

Michael O’Sullivan then moved up the ranks after a monster pot which involved him calling Jamel Maistriaux’s all in with Q-5. Maistriaux was out of his depth as O’Sullivan showed pocket queens and lady luck did not make an appearance to help him out.

It wasn’t too long after this until the final table bubble burst. Matej Kokalj raised to 65,000 and Mathias Smagghe moved all in from the small blind. Kokalj made the call turning over pocket tens. Smagghe showed Ks Qc and the board didn’t change either hand. The pocket tens were enough to decide the final table, and Smagghe left with €8,900 for 10th place.

Final Table and Chip Counts:
Michael O’Sullivan: 982,000 John Cassidy (sole survivor): 693,000
Matej Kokalj: 1,216,000 Michael Murphy: 537,000
Graham Masters: 447,000 Stephen Devlin: 463,000
Paul Dooley (sole survivor): 336,000 Igor Kurganov: 810,000
Gary Mealy: 540,000
Irish Winter Festival
Sole Survivor
The first final table elimination also decided who was going home with the €20,000 Sole Survivor package. John Cassidy’s A-K could not outdraw Igor Kurganov’s A-A and the €13,500 for ninth place had the hard task of consoling Cassidy with what could have been. Paul Dooley was then crowned the IWF Sole Survivor after outlasting 61 other online qualifiers, but it was not over for the Tipperary man as he was still in with a chance in the main event.

The eight place prize of €17,900 went to Graham Masters when his pocket nines were beaten by Gary Mealy’s ADiamond Suit JDiamond Suit on a nail-biting board which fell Q-Q-10-6-J. After this, Paul Dooley’s tournament life was finally put to an end. He raised under the gun and Mealy called. The flop came 9Heart Suit 5Club Suit 3Heart Suit and Dooley made his move, only to see Mealy insta-call the all-in. Dooley showed pocket sixes but Mealy was ahead with pocket jacks. The turn and river fell a 4 and a 10 and Dooley cashed out in seventh place with €22,400, not to forget his €20,000 package.

Murphy’s Law
Northern Ireland pro Steven Devlin then made his exit in sixth place for €28,400 when his pocket fives lost against Michael Murphy’s Q-J with a jack on the flop.

Murphy then continued his run, knocking out the next two players. First he put Igor Kurganov out in fifth place with A-Q versus 10-10 respectively. An ace on the flop ended Kurganov’s tournament and he hit the rail €35,900 richer. Then it was Matek Kokalj’s time to face the trooper. It seemed as if pocket pairs were no challenge to Murphy as once more Murphy paired his ace on the flop with A-J versus Kokalj’s 7-7. The river gave Murphy two pair, aces and jacks, and Matej went home with €44,800 for his fourth-place finish.

With three players left, the chip stacks were:
Michael O’Sullivan: 736,000 Michael Murphy: 3,900,000
Gary Mealy: 1,200,000

Michael O’Sullivan was the short stack going into the threehanded battle, but got an early double up when his K-9 beat Michael Murphy’s A-4 with a nine on the flop. This put him in second place chip-wise with 1.8 million.

Armed with this ammo, Murphy turned on Gary Mealy, calling his all in with bottom pair. Mealy had middle pair, but even that wasn’t good enough to beat Murphy, as the river turned Murphy’s one pair into two pair, putting Mealy on the other side of the rail in third place for a payday of €55,300.

Heads-Up Hero
Heads up, there was an explosion in the very first hand when Murphy’s A-J was beaten by O’Sullivan’s pocket fours. If the flop didn’t make it clear with its 5-5-4, the 4 on the turn certainly did, and both players were back to square one with almost even stacks.

A crucial hand epitomised the entire event with an exciting race. Pocket jacks for Murphy and A-K for O’Sullivan were the runners, and the 6-3-2-Q board kept Murphy’s jacks in the lead. However, in came an ace on the river and O’Sullivan’s stack saw a huge improvement to five million, leaving Murphy with one million. The final hand came when Murphy shoved with Q-7 and received an insta-call from O’Sullivan who held pocket queens. Hope came with a 7 on the flop, but the turn and river kept the ladies on top and O’Sullivan was the worthy winner of €143,000, the trophy, and the title. Murphy took home €88,500 for an epic performance. Spade Suit