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Eoghan O'Dea - My World Series of Poker Final Table

by Eoghan O'Dea |  Published: Dec 01, '11


I arrived on my own in Vegas a week before the final table which worked for me because it gave me time to focus. I played a bit, went to the gym and looked through some of the coverage trying to see if I could notice anything about the rest of the players, or even myself. My friends and family arrived just before the main event which meant that I wasn’t distracted by anything like mad nights out and was in bed early every night.

I slept very well the night before the final table. Everyone else said they had no trouble sleeping either, unless they were bluffing in which case I didn’t catch it! We were all to meet at a suite in the Rio which took me about 30 minutes to find! All 9 of us were there for about 90 minutes. I thought that this is where we would start to get nervous but there was a lot of chatting and it was all pretty relaxed. The organisers were trying to promote this $1million buy-in tournament that they’re thinking of running next week and were encouraging us to play it if we did well! I think I’d need $100m to even consider playing a tournament like that. On the plus side it’s meant to be reg free…

I was pretty relaxed up until I was due to go out on stage. It was then that I finally started to feel a bit nervous. It was obvious that everyone else was feeling this way too as the minutes counted down. The walking out was the worst part because I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as I sat down at the table, I was in my comfort zone.

I got off to a pretty good start too. I was winning a few pots and getting my chip stack going. Then I got involved in a big hand with A-Q which saw me lose a large chunk of chips. Pius Heinz began by raising and I felt he was weak straight off. When Ben Lamb called I was thinking something along the lines of “I’m probably going to re-raise here”.

Then I looked down and saw A-Q and considered that a nice bonus! I re-raised and Heinz called. At that point I kind of knew he was stronger than I had thought pre-flop but unlikely to have A-A or K=K as I didn’t think he’d give Ben the chance to come in cheap.

I fired on the flop and on the turn on what was a low board that contained 3 clubs (I had no club). He thought for a good 4 minutes on the turn before pushing all-in. I folded and was probably the last to find out that he had Q-Q with a club. It was a good board for his hand without a doubt but he definitely could have been losing here and it was tough decision for him. If he has no club there his decision is much harder but in the end he went with his gut and it was right.

I think I played the hand okay. I could’ve given it up maybe after the flop but I thought there was quite a good chance that I could get him to pass at some stage and if not I was still alive in the tournament.

Finishing 6th was a bit disappointing but considering I was 9/9 at one point it could have been worse! I was happy to get my money in good versus Ben in what was to be my fatal blow. I raise with A-9 and he shoves Q8 from the blinds. After playing with Ben for as long as I had, I noticed that Ben looked very nervous after announcing all-in, particularly when he realised that I wasn’t folding instantly. It was a tough decision for me but decided to go with my read. I know that I’m only a slight favourite so I couldn’t complain too much when he got there on the river.

On the day I don’t think I did much wrong. Maybe I could have played the A-Q hand a bit better but on reflection I think I got a bit unlucky to run into the top-end of his range there and it was frustrating to lose so many chips early on. When it went 6 handed I felt like I was beginning to get a bit of momentum. I was starting to pick up pots again and the Irish guys had started to get more vocal. I haven’t seen the whole final table yet but it seemed Staszko did a good job of improving and preparing his game for the final table.

I went out drinking six of the next seven nights. It’s funny, I think poker is the only game in the world where you can win over $1million and still be disappointed. I wasn’t drowning my sorrows though, I was definitely celebrating and spent the first three nights out in Vegas with my family and friends who had travelled. Nobody was in bed before 7am on any given night and I don’t think anybody really lost their shirt at the tables, which is good considering its Vegas!

Six of us headed to San Diego then on the Thursday. It took a while to get the car on the road as a few of the lads were missing in action. We finally found The Doc having breakfast at the Hard Rock, not very sober but we were ready to get on the way. The journey was a bit of craic even after we came unbelievably close to crashing. If it wasn’t for the cool and composed Dave Callaghan swerving in and out of the cars after our car had gone completely out of control, things could’ve got messy!

Just me and Mark went out on the first night and we nearly ended up going to Mexico. We bumped into these guys that supposedly were from Vegas and had watched the poker on tv. They were telling us that it should be on our bucket-list to go for a few drinks in Tijuana at 2am. It’s only 20 minutes away from San Diego, or so we were told, but we decided to pass on the offer and headed home at 1.30 am to cap off what by Vegas standards was an early night.

Before we left San Diego we managed to fit in a day of Volleyball in what has become an annual thing for us when we’re here. Day quickly turned to night and we all rounded up to watch the Pacquiao fight which didn’t disappoint at all. Despite my body still recovering from the hard nights in Vegas, I felt my body was still able to take one more night out so we made the most of what time we had left there.

I headed to London on the Sunday and British Airways were really annoying me. There was a flight from San Diego that night at 9pm but I was booked for the Vegas one instead at around the same time. The San Diego was half full and the Vegas was fully booked but they didn’t want to listen and allow me change my ticket. I ended up having to fly to Arizona to get back to Vegas because all the direct flights were booked out from California for the day. Then when I got on my British Airways flight the seat was broken and of course they had no other spare seats as it was fully booked. Very tilting (or not tilting as was the problem)!

The reason I was in London was because there was a new team event on called the IFP Nations Cup and I was asked to be on the Irish team. The first day of the event was played in tables in the pods of the London Eye. The IFP introduced a variant of poker called Duplicate Poker which I believe is taken from bridge. It’s really trying to promote poker as the skill game that we all know it is and it’ll be interesting to see if it catches on future televised events. We didn’t have much luck anyway with our team captain Padraig Parkinson getting unlucky not to bring home some money for us

Now that I’m back, I hope to play online a bit. Of course, your best chance to catch me is to play on

Eoghan O’Dea was a member of the 2011 November Nine. He came sixth in the main event winning $1.7 milllion. He plays poker online and writes at

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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