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Sole Survivor: Irish Poker Festival Part I

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Jan 01, 2012


Day two [at the Killarney Irish Poker Festival] started like the previous one with Barry waking me to get up and go play the tournament. He was unlucky to be out the previous day when he got it all in with A-A v A-K for a 100,000 pot after five levels. I again inform him that I’ll just skip the first two levels and go down at 3.30 p.m. but I get up with little resistance this time. I should probably take this moment to thank Barry Kilbane for getting me to play this tournament cause without him I surely wouldn’t have made day one or day two.

However, after the first two hours I wish he had left me in bed because in the midst of trying to use my big stack I had lost 50,000 in chips. I didn’t get any beats just picked constant bad spots, in a little rage I walked off out for a cigarette to calm the nerves.

Afterwards, I still had an above average stack and was picking off pots nicely. I was never really put to any tests and I chipped back up to 150,000 without much of a sweat.

The only hand I can really remember during the four hours was with a load of limpers.
I’m on the button with the power house 7-2. I honestly would never do this but it seemed such a good spot I had to try steal. I got one caller. The flop came 10-9-7 and the caller led out and I called behind. My exact thoughts were I haven’t an iota where I am in the hand but I do have position. The next card is a 5 and he bet out again, I thought for two-three minutes before I called. The river brought a jack. He checked and I checked and he showed K-8.

After the dinner break I decided it was time to start having a pint or two just to relax as we were nearing the bubble. A hand develops when blinds are 2,000-4,000. Under-the-gun pushes and then a guy in mid-position calls/pushes. I have about 130,000 and am all set to fold my big blind when I look down at J-J. I tanked for a while because it’s hardly the best spot ever but after a lot of talking from the second raiser I call.
Under the gun has 7-7, mid-position has 8-8. I was looking good to win the hand until the river brought an unfortunate 8 to leave me having to try grind my way back into contention.

When we got four from the bubble no-one at my table wanted to take control and I shoved a lot of hands because even the bigger stacks seemed like they wanted to cash so I chipped up nicely, winning four pots in a row at one stage alternating shoves and min raises.

A few hands after the bubble bursts I look at A-10 mid-position somewhere, my stack is too big to shove so I min-raise plus an ante. The small blind and big blind both call and of course I flop A-10-6. The small blind bets out so I tank a bit and call, the turn is a jack which I am happy enough with. Again, the small blind bets out and I tank a good bit longer and call. The river is a 7, he bets I push five big blinds more all in and he calls after rivering with A-7 and I have a very nice double up.

Towards the end of the night I’m just stealing here or there. I’m around 400,000 at one point when I lose two pots in a row after raising preflop. I’m down to 300,000 and then I make a move with Q-J where I three-bet and get called. I bet a king-high flop, he moves in and I fold.

Down to 100k…shite!

I manage to get a few pushes through here and there and make it to day 3 with 200,000 — about 22nd with 27 left. At least I know that I’ll have easy decisions the following day. There was major craic in the bar on Saturday night, the place is crazy with the people from the celebrity tournament hanging around and everyone is drunk if not hammered, this was the first time I got talking to Jon Kalmar and I have to say thought the guy was dead sound and funny, he’d chat away for the night if you let him.

At three I have the decision to switch to shorts or go home. I decide to go home, lying to myself all the time that I was getting up for the Ireland Vs. Italy rugby match at 8:30 a.m.. Read part II next month.

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.