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Sole Survivor

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Jun 01, 2012


It’s been four months since my last blog and these are my sins.

I decided to come up to the Burlington Hotel for the Irish Open on the Thursday night so as not to break with tradition, well I suppose it was more a tradition in training as I was just trying to repeat everything I had done the year before. It’s also more relaxing to come to a tournament the night before instead of having to deal with the hassle of travelling on the day, if you have far to come it really doesn’t put you in the mood to play cards. I drove to the World Poker Tour Dublin in January and managed to get lost on the way, ended up being nearly an hour late and going back on the cigs after being off them a week. It was also the Citywest Hotel, which is the simplest hotel to find in Dublin from my side of the country. You could have taken a monkey from the zoo, given him a tricycle and a map, and I’m sure he would have made better time then me. By the time I sat to play cards I was stressed out and as a result day 1 went really well actually which kind of ruins my point. I did however have a really bad day 2 which now that I think about it was obviously post-traumatic stress from the previous day and nothing to do with me playing like a donkey and busting a 150 BB stack in under an hour.

Unfortunately the trade off for not having to travel to the tournament the day it begins is the few pints you have that night but a few pints is never just a few pints and while I had a great time down in the bar I only managed to wobble to bed at five in the morning. So I was quite hungover the next day but still at this stage keeping with my “tradition”.

Just before the tournament began Andy Black called me over very excitedly about a funny name he had seen on the list of players — I’m not really sure if Andy knows how to do anything without excitement. Then he stopped and looked at me for a couple of seconds and said, “Do you know who you look like with that haircut?” His answer was a little less than flattering mainly because the player is about twice my age. He took great delight in telling me this anytime he met me, even taking time out of another great run at the Irish Open to shout it across the room. Twice.

My starting table was a bit of a nightmare with Martins Adeniya, “Flush_Entity” and Matt Perrins all perched to my left; all-in-all there was only one spot at the table and with the three-, four-, and five-betting soon in full swing I decided to tighten up quite considerably. While I bemoaned my bad luck with my table draw at first, it seemed that there were loads of tough starting tables this year. I think it definitely adds to the prestige of the tournament that so many great players would travel to play it. I was knocked out by level five when I got most of my stack in on the river with Q-Q on a board showing A-Q-3-3-7 with Matt Perrins holding 3-3 and was out soon after. So my defense of the title was short and sour and it was disappointing not to get a run in the tournament.

I did end up getting a good sweat this year when my good friend and roommate for the weekend Conor McElhinney went deep in the tournament and ended up finishing in 43rd. Of course I had a big part to play in this run, managing only to wake him one out of the three nights when returning to the room in the wee hours while he was still in the tournament. I was so quiet one night I even managed to leave the door off the latch. So that is part of my credentials if anyone is looking for a roommate at future events; there is a chance of your stuff being robbed but at least you’ll be well-rested telling the guards about it the next morning.

Paddy Power have yet again risen the bar when it comes to streaming live poker tournaments with their roving reporters bringing us loads of interviews throughout the tournament and also some light-hearted skits, while there was also some slightly controversial but very informative analysis coming from the booth. So a big congratulations to Emmet Kennedy, Dan O’Brien, Eoghan O’Dea, Rory Brown, Rebecca McAdam, Rury Mason, Tom Kitt, and everyone else who took part. I did the quickest (although to Emmet it might have seemed the longest) stint myself, and all I have to say to him is you only have yourself to blame. He had tried to get me to do it before and I have always refused but in a moment of weakness around 12 o’clock on the Saturday night I was talked into it.

All was going perfect for the first 10 seconds while Emmet asked me a question about my bust out hand, I thought this was great as I am able to whine en masse about my bad beat story. About one line in I hear a woman’s voice in the headphones and in my slightly inebriated state start looking around to see who it is and stop talking. By the time I’ve turned back around, Emmet is now full swing into his best John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever) impression with his hands swingy wildly all over the place. Another few seconds of dead air crawl by until I realise he wants me to continue talking, unfortunately being a bit flustered I’m only able to bring a chorus of am’s to this dance act. Thankfully Emmet got us back on track and I left very soon after vowing never to do that again, with Emmet vowing never to ask.

As if it’s not bad enough having to hand over one crown, I had to hand over two on Easter weekend, but a massive well done to Ian Simpson this year’s Sole Survivor, and as Robert Sherwood told me last year, it will be the best year of your life. The highlight for me was following my Irish Open victory with the win down in Killarney but is closely followed in second by a crazy month in Vegas during the World Series. I’d just like to thank the Paddy Power Poker team myself for everything they did for me the last year, you really couldn’t ask for a more helpful, but more importantly, fun group of people and congratulations to them on another superbly run weekend of poker. ♠

Niall Smyth finished 11th in the Irish Winter Festival for €5,800. The event was won by John Keown for €100,000. Noel O’Brien was second for €57,950 while Chris Dowling was third for €35,750.