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Stacking Chips And Drinks In Killarney

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Oct 07, '11



There are five of us heading down at around three in the day with only one car between us – two of us are currently between cars, one has his in the shop and the other owns a Jeep. We head off a little squashed, but excited with the weekend ahead and we make it all of a mile outside Ennis before the car breaks down. Still, looking on the bright side we reckon it was best to happen when it did as opposed to being half way there. After an hour we are all back on the road, myself, and friends Barry and Keith getting a lift from John in some tiny car I presume he bought off a retired clown, and Deccie and Con heading in Deccie’s jeep. I have to admit Keith is the best co-pilot anyone could ever have with all the breaking and steering he was doing in the passenger seat! “BAD PASSENGER” fails miserably to describe him, although he did give the rest of us a good laugh.

As it tends to happen with four lads heading to play a poker tournament, we soon get onto talking about betting and after a lot of debate (piss taking) we decide out of all the UEFA games on that night that Spurs -2 v Shamrock Rovers seems like the best bet to get a good return (yes we are that patriotic), so we all ring up Paddy Power in the hope we are covering some of our expenses for the weekend. We reach Killarney, quick change, and we hit the town for a few quite pints. The match ended 3-1 but we got a good sweat at least.

The last thing I remember is all of us getting a picture taken with a copper and me drinking shots with the bar man who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Nights of Anarchy.



I am woken at nine the next morning, somewhere where you shouldn’t really wake up after a night out, a broken and confused man and head back to my hotel. I burn the receptionist’s ear off on the way in and hit the hay…

I’m woken up again (because once isn’t enough in one day) by Barry at two o’clock. “It’s time to play the tournament! And if you don’t get up I’ll drag you out of it,” he says in a far too cheerful voice. Now all I can think about is getting up and smothering him before he goes through with his all-too-cheery threat. I informed him that I wasn’t going to bother playing this tournament in my current state and that he could vacate the room while I slept some more (may have used slightly more offensive words). He followed through on his threat and I dragged my body down to the tournament.

The first two hours went very well for me I was so hungover I was playing tight, raising premium hands and calling raises with pocket pairs or suited connectors. One hand I will always remember is where I had 5-3s in the BB; UTG raises, two callers, and I call from the big blind. I flop fairly good – think it was 3-3-3 or something similar and I get three streets of value from it after a check-raise on the turn and I’m off to a great start. The other player never said what he had but I’m presuming it was Q-Q, K-K or A-A which is pretty sick. We went for dinner after four hours and I had a to-and-fro battle to keep down a bowl of soup and a pint. My stack was around 60k heading into the last five levels and with a few drinks and a general recovery I start to get a bit more aggressive with my stack.

Two hands after dinner break that were memorable; one against Jimmy McSweeney, a previous winner of this event. We got into a raising war both preflop and on the flop and he bluffed my A-7 with his A-8. It was a bluff considering neither of us had any of the board he had just read me for weak. He was one of the funniest guys I’ve sat with all weekend – it’s just a shame he can’t sing given he spends much of his time burning our ears with a voice that wouldn’t even make it into the queue for an X-Factor audition.

Afterwards, I had A-5 of spades on the cut-off and Richard Sinclair (another great and tough opponent I had to play against) three-bet me which he had been doing throughout the day. The fact he had gotten short worried me a bit but in the end I shoved. The reasons were that he could still fold marginal to good hands against me, he had done it a lot, and if he did call I still would have had a healthy stack. After a minute or less though, he calls with A-Q. Flop was Js-7-6, of course the turn brought the sweat card 4s and I binked a 5 on the river for an unfortunate end for Richie.

My biggest mistake of the weekend was when a few of the lads who had been knocked out had gone to town, I wanted to go and started drinking Double Morgan’s a good two hours before the tournament was to finish for the night. I’ve had two or three and get moved table for the last hour or so. The table is good craic with nearly everyone chatting away and I get a bit lost in this, it’s only when they say we are playing two more hands that I realise I’m the big stack at the table. I decide to make up for lost time and just take away the last three pots of the night to juice up my stack a little.

First hand goes to plan – I raise everyone folds. Next hand I have 9Diamond Suit 7Diamond Suit and raise only to get three callers. Hmmm… bad spot surely. Flop comes king-high with two diamonds. I bet and get one caller, turn is gin and brings me the flush, I bet and he check-raises all in. I call and see that he had bottom pair and was making a move. Last hand of the night sees me dealt KDiamond Suit JDiamond Suit. A short stack pushes and I call and hold against his A-9 to make it 3/3 and juice up my stack a lot!

I ended the day fourth in chips and wanted to get a good night’s sleep but unfortunately there were still people to drink with in the bar and I didn’t manage to get back until five that morning.

Stay tuned for Niall’s breakdown of Saturday and Sunday on his way to winning his second major tournament this year.

Niall Smyth is the 2011 Irish Open champion. He won €550,000 for his victory as well as another €100,000 for being the last online qualifier standing in the Sole Survivor last longest competition. He plays poker online and writes at

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