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

The Irish Winter Festival

Slick Nick And A Barrel Of Laughs

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Jan 01, 2011


Paddy Power Poker tournaments in Ireland are unique in that they always strive to provide an entertaining and fun atmosphere. The Irish Winter Festival 2010 was no different.
To kick things off the Paddy Power Poker team chipped their way into the Guinness Book of World Records by creating the world’s biggest poker chip stack.
At 3 metres tall and 50 centimetres wide chip stack comprised 75,000 individual poker chips and took five people more than 72 hours to build.
Spokesman Paddy Power said, “We had our fair share of wobbles along the way and one complete collapse but we held our nerve and it was definitely worth it for the honour of a Guinness World Record.”
Elsewhere, in the bar at the Festival, former snooker world champion Dennis Taylor and darts world champion Eric Bristow challenged punters at their respective sports — but with a classic prop bet twist: Bristow played his darts on a revolving dartboard while Taylor’s snooker cue was replaced with a broom handle.
Remarkably, Paddy Power himself beat both players, crowed about it on Twitter afterwards, and told the media, “I am proud to say that I beat both World Champions this weekend and now consider myself a total pro at both darts and snooker!”
The event also featured nightly music, a roving silhouette portrait artist, and magician Shane Gilleen.
On top of all that was the hilariously successful — for more on that see this month’s From The European Bureau Chief.
Paddy Power said, “This year’s Irish Winter Festival was better than ever before and has definitely established itself as one of Europe’s most prestigious tournaments with more than €500,000 in the main-event prize pool.
“I am already looking forward to the Irish Open 2011 as I know we can expect just as much craic and entertainment at this event!”
Paddy, we never doubt you and Team Card Player will be there with bells on. However it wasn’t all play and no work for your hilarity-seeking hacks. Rebecca McAdam caught up with the winner of the Irish Master main event Nicholas Newport, recipient of the €125,000 first prize.
Slick Nick
The Irish Winter Festival crowned Nicholas Newport the Irish Masters champion for 2010 after topping a 347-strong field to take home the €125,000 first prize in October.
The young pro beat fellow Irishman Charlie Harvey heads up when after clashing on a K-6-2 flop featuring two spades, they got it all in.
Harvey had K-2 for two pair and was up against Newport’s spade draw. A queen on the turn didn’t change anything but the 4♠ on the river ended the tournament with a bang, and granted Newport the biggest win of his poker career.
Here are the final results and payouts:
First Nicholas Newport €125,000
Second Charlie Harvey €77,000
Third Tom Finneran €56,500
Fourth Dominic McCloskey €42,000
Fifth Seamus Quinn €31,300
Sixth Ivan Tononi €23,500
Seventh Stuart Brownson €17,800
Eighth Dorlan Schick €17,800

Rebecca McAdam: Congratulations! How did you find the whole experience?
Nicholas Newport: It was amazing really. It’s not the first time I’ve gone deep in a tournament, I’ve had several deep runs the last four or five months, but this was my first major final table. I won a tournament in Waterford a few months ago, for €10,000, that was my biggest cash up until now.
RM: So, you’re running good and playing good!
NN: I’m playing the best poker since I started playing. I turned professional back in March so I have a lot more time to devote to the game now.
RM: Why did you choose then to go professional?
NN: I was actually working at the time but I got let go, but I was planning to leave my job after the summer to go full-time. I was going to give it a shot anyway. Everything worked out for the best in the end. I didn’t really mind getting sacked, I hated the job I was in anyway, I wanted to get out of it as quick as possible.
But yeah, the experience was great. The first day was a mixed bag for me. I didn’t play very well for the first five levels, and I didn’t run too well, but once I got a table move, I started to play a lot better, I got more comfortable, and built up my stack. The next day was a struggle, I was very short for most of it, and once it got to the bubble I started to build up a few chips and ended the day just below average. On the final day I was very up and down for the first while, I had a very aggressive table to start off, the second table I was on today when we got down to 18, but I slowly just picked my spots and tried to build my stack.
Eventually I managed to get a good stack together and lost half of it. I kind of struggled then to get to the final table, but I was always just playing for the win. That was always my plan once I got in the money, just to try go for it.
RM: How did you find the field on the final day. Was the play tight in order to get into higher money brackets or were they playing to win like yourself?
NN: It was kind of a mixture. Some guys were obviously, for the first few levels, just playing normal poker, trying to build their stacks; other people were kind of sitting back and waiting. I was just trying to be patient, and waiting for good spots. I knew I could get guys to make big mistakes against me and that’s what happened really, that’s how I managed to get my stack together.
RM: What were the key hands?
NN: There were several key hands, even before I got to the final table really. But on the final table there were a lot of key hands. One that really got me up to average stack was the hand against Tom Finneran where I shoved from the small blind with Q-7 off-suit and he called with pocket fours. I managed to spike a queen on the flop, doubled up, and just kept going from there.
Then there was a very big hand against the Canadian guy [Nicholas Verkaik] where he raised preflop and I called from the small blind with nines, and I flopped a set, and managed to stack him in that hand. That got me up over the million mark and I really just pushed on from there, tried to be aggressive, and push the action because I knew a couple of the guys were just waiting for hands.
RM: What were your final table opponents like?
NN: It was a mixture. Myself, Tom [Finneran], and the Canadian [Verkaik] were probably the most aggressive, and everybody else was quite tight, waiting for hands. There were very few flops played throughout the final table, part of that was because the blinds were so high and the average stack was 15 or 20 big blinds for most of the final table. My plan was to try and see a few flops with some of the tighter players, and with the Canadian guy as well, I wanted to play a couple of flops with him because I knew how aggressive he was, and I knew if I flopped a big hand I was very likely to get paid against a couple of the guys; the same with Tom — I tried to just play small pots preflop and tried to grind him down.
RM: What was the heads up like for you?
NN: It was weird at the start because I wasn’t sure how Charlie [Harvey] was going to play because he had been very tight on the final table. He won a very big pot at the start with aces against A-K and he really tightened up from there, so he seemed to be just waiting for hands, and sitting on his stack. When we got to heads up, I wasn’t quite sure was he going to be more aggressive, was he going to play much of the same, but he mixed it up a bit, and it took me the best part of 10-15 hands to develop a good strategy to combat him.
RM: What was that strategy?
NN: I was mixing it up a lot, raising some buttons, doing a lot of limping just to try and play flops with him because I knew I could outplay him post-flop. I felt I was a stronger player than him and felt if I could see a lot of flops with him I’d be able to grind him down, and that’s what happened. I hit a couple of hands and managed to get paid, and managed to trap him once or twice, so it worked out nice.
RM: You decided to turn professional and then you got your first big win, did that have any influence on how you played this event?
NN: I’ve constantly changed my game since I started playing. I’m probably a good bit more aggressive than I was before I turned professional. Just adapting really to situations — if the table’s very aggressive, I might play a bit tighter; if the table’s pretty tight, I’ll usually play a lot more aggressive. I just try and mix it up as much as possible.
RM: Did your last win give you more confidence?
NN: Absolutely. I mean, if you win a tournament in poker, you always get a bit more confident. The win I had before this really boosted my confidence and showed me if I play my best game I really can go far.
RM: How long have you been playing overall now?
NN: About three years.
RM: So you came pretty much at a time when the game had gotten harder.
NN: Yeah. I remember when I started, I was playing in college and house games, and I just developed a love for the game. The first casino I played in was Newbay in Wexford, and I started playing in The Jackpot [in Dublin] quite regularly about two-and-a-half years ago. While out drinking one night with mates, I think I was probably in Coppers [Copper Face Jacks] that night, and I spotted the sign for The Jackpot and went in for the first time.
RM: Were you playing online at the time?
NN: I haven’t been playing much online since I started playing poker. Live games, particularly in The Fitzwilliam, have been very good over the last six months.
RM: You’re a live player then.
NN: Yeah, it’s quite unusual really for someone my age to be mainly a live player but live really suits my game a lot more. Especially now with this win I do intend on playing online a lot more, and try and get a lot more experience.
RM: What’s the plan now, with the money and with your game, what are you going to do?
NN: I think I’ll get a new car for starters, well, not “new new” but I think I’ll change it up. After that, most of the money I’ve won will go straight into my bankroll, and I’ve a couple of guys who have small percentages of me so they’re quite happy they’re going to get a few K out of this as well
RM: Will you branch out more internationally now with your live game? Will we see you at events like EPTs and so on?
NN: Yeah, I was planning to go to the World Series next year 2011, I didn’t get to go this year. In between that we’ll see about travelling to events . I’m thinking about going to Marrakesh for a couple of months, a few of the lads were talking about it. I’ve heard it’s quite juicy out there, so I think I might have a spin out there for a while, and after that I don’t know, we’ll see, I’ll take it as it comes.
RM: Feeling pretty good about yourself.
NN: Absolutely, yeah! Of the 347 who took part in the Irish Masters, 105 were vying to be the €20,000 Sole Survivor. Slovenian Tomaz Kogovsek was crowned the winner on the final day, and he received €10,000 in cash, and €10,000 in tournament buy-ins, as well as his tournament payout. ♠