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John Keown Wins Paddy Power Poker Irish Winter Festival Main Event

Battle Of North Versus South Is Climax Of IWF Irish Masters


The Irish Winter Festival came to a close with John Keown taking down the €1,000 + €100 main event, the Irish Masters, for a nice payday of €100,000.

The three-day event drew 395 players to the Burlington Hotel in Dublin for what turned out to be an intense roller-coaster ride filled with highs and lows. Play peaked when northern Irish player Keown was first crowned the 2011 IWF Sole Survivor after outlasting all other PaddyPowerPoker qualifiers, and then went on to stare down southern Irishman Noel O’Brien for the last stand.

The battle of north versus south lasted just over an hour and started with O’Brien in the lead but ended with Keown as champ. After some swings to and fro, Keown eventually crippled O’Brien in a hand where he raised to 500,000 on a flop of 5Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 3Spade Suit and O’Brien moved all in with 8Diamond Suit 3Heart Suit. Keown called with QSpade Suit 7Spade Suit and hit the 9Spade Suit on the turn for the flush. O’Brien did manage to make a comeback, doubling up twice straight away, but it wasn’t third time lucky when Keown’s ADiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit beat O’Brien’s KClub Suit 6Club Suit to make him this year’s winner.

Keown received the €20,000 Sole Survivor package made up of 50 percent cash and 50 percent tournament buy-ins, on top of his first-place prize winnings. O’Brien complimented Keown and left with his head held high and his pockets weighed down with €57,950 for second place.

Before the two faced off, the last day had to lose three players to get to its final table.

Here are the final table payouts and results (plus the remaining day three starters):

1. John Keown €100,000
2. Noel O’Brien €57,950
3. Chris Dowling €35,750
4. Matej Kokalj €28,750
5. Michael Mazilu €22,750
6. Brian Warren €18,550
7. Damien Quinlivan €14,400
8. Ville Salmi €11,750
9. Colm Hayes €8,700
10. Robert Jones €5,800
11. Niall Smyth €5,800
12. Keith Maguire €5,800

After his victory John Keown said, “It was a bit of a battle, but I think we’re both gambling men – I’ve known Noel a long time and we’ve had our wars over the years – we were both going to gamble and I came out on top. Poker’s a funny game, you can be so far in front, but it only takes one card to do the damage.”

Niall Smyth. Photos courtesy of Danny Maxwell and Paddy PowerTwo of the most interesting stories on the final day were Niall Smyth and his 11th place finish, just like at the 2009 Irish Open, and Irish player Chris Dowling’s hunt for first-place glory.

2011 Irish Open champion Smyth was after a triple title and was in good form coming off the back of a win at the Irish Poker Festival in Killarney recently, while Dowling had a difficult day finding himself short and then among the leaders quickly after, only to go out so close to glory.

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