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Sole Survivor

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Nov 01, 2011


It’s Monday night I think, the day of the week really doesn’t seem to matter when you’re in Vegas, However I’m pretty sure it’s Monday. So where to start? Of course the long-ass journey over [from Ireland] is one of the most tedious I’ll ever make — 18 hours with stopovers to get from my home to a hotel, and I might add I hate flying. Actually no, I dislike the take off — the flying is grand but if I’m ever happy to be landing I’ll either be asleep or vigorously trying to finish joining the mile high club, instead of the “plane on the runway club” which isn’t as popular.
We arrived over and decided to have dinner and hit the town. The fact that we hadn’t slept in over 24 hours didn’t matter. It was after the waitress had to rescue me from drowning in my soup we decided to give the night out a miss and crash.

So the next two days we decided to do all the tourist stuff and go around all the casinos, I have to say they are amazing sights to behold. The biggest mistake I made so far though was walking out to the Rio after trawling half the strip at one o’clock in the day. The hotel is a two-mile walk from it and, if I’m wrong and people say I’m exaggerating, it actually felt like 10. I think the funniest part of the whole story is when I wobble up to the nearest bar in the Rio and ask for two bottles of water only to be refused because I had no ID on me.

I mean seriously wtf is that about?! Oh and I mean funny as in the way you have to look back at a story without breaking something.

That night I start getting the itch. I mean I came to Vegas to play poker and I want to start now. Two of the tournaments I’ll be playing are pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better so I check the list and they have a half Omaha/half stud fixed-limit eight-or-better with a $2,500 buy-in. The fact I’d say I’ve logged less than 300 hands of stud eight doesn’t matter. I mean it’s all poker. Right? Well I decide I’m playing this tournament the next day.

I wake at 8 a.m. and feel fresh. This would never happen back in Ireland (I usually wake up for Home and Away on TV if I’m not doing anything and yes I mean the 1.30 p.m. show).I always told people I’m not lazy I was just born in the wrong time zone, so it looks like I was born for Vegas baby.

To overcome the slight disadvantage of playing a tournament where I have no idea what I’m doing for half of it, I hit up my Cardrunners account and watch every video I have time to on tournament stud eight-or-better. While I have to say the videos are very good, four to five hours in a row gets a little bit too much like work and I’m not sure if I took in anything in the last two hours. Well fuck it, I was off to play the tournament.

I sit at the table and two to my left is Barny Boatman and to my right there is a guy with a World Series of Poker bracelet. I’m not shocked or anything. It’s just I have never started a tournament with one pro let alone two. When I mention this to Barny he actually said, “What’s it matter to you, you’re a pro now too.” While not true it did help me relax. I just have to say that Barny is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met at the tables, he just chatted away a bit, made me more comfortable at the table, and whenever he got a bad beat he would just smile and say “nice hand” and not in the fake way either. To be continued… ♠

Niall Smyth is the 2011 Irish Open champion and Sole Survivor winner. He took down €550,000 for the former and €100,000 for the latter and has taken a year’s leave from his job to concentrate on poker.