David Docherty Is Keeping His Balance After a Famous Victory in the Irish Poker Open 

  • Steeped in history, the Irish Poker Open is the longest-running NLH poker tournament in Europe
  • David Docherty won the latest edition’s Main Event after four gruelling days at the RDS in Dublin
  • He spoke to VSO News about the win, explaining how he stayed level-headed under pressure
David Docherty
David Lappin, VSO News writer and poker pro, has spoken to fellow pro David Docherty (pictured) regarding his latest victory in the Irish Poker Open Main Event.

A record field 

The Irish Poker Open has a long and illustrious history bettered only by the World Series of Poker Main Event. At 42 years old, it is the longest running No Limit Hold ‘em poker tournament in Europe and in many ways its history mirrors that of the game itself. 

First organized in 1980 by Irish bookmaker Terry Rogers, it started off small and had a Wild West feel about it. For the first few years, local players convened at Dublin’s Eccentric Club to play a glorified Sit & Go in a smoky room but the numbers rose steadily over time until players from overseas eventually began making it an annual pilgrimage. 

the Main Event hit a record field of 2,491

The Merrion Casino took over hosting duties in the 1980s but, as the tournament grew even more in size and stature, it moved to conference centers in the Jury’s Ballsbridge Hotel, the Citywest Hotel, The Burlington Hotel, and then back to Citywest. Last week saw the tournament find its sixth home, in arguably its most salubrious surroundings.

The RDS in Dublin was packed to the rafters as the Main Event hit a record field of 2,491:

After four gruelling days, the dust finally settled and one man had his arms aloft. That man was David Docherty and, in the wake of a famous victory, VegasSlotsOnline News had the great pleasure to chat to him. 

An exclusive interview with David Docherty

David Lappin: The last time you did a Q&A with me was after your win at GUKPT Luton. The theme of that piece was how due or overdue you were. In the wake of your victory in Dublin, do you feel like the appropriate amount of course correction has taken place?

David Docherty: I think the course might have been overcorrected now! I would be only too happy to assume a new identity as David Docherty the sun runner.

I ran stupidly well in often unseen ways”

I don’t think anyone who wins a 2,491-runner live tournament can really complain about how they’re running going forward. My showdown hands in this event were all pretty run of the mill, but I ran stupidly well in often unseen ways. Someone folded TT to my pre-flop 3-bet shove with 99 on the final two tables, after I’d already bluff shoved the river on him and showed it earlier in the tournament. I probably owe the guy a beer. 

DL: You and I played on the same table toward the end of Day 1 and we both made hay, you more so, despite it being an incredibly tough table. When you bag up the chiplead as you did that night, it’s important to stay level-headed and not project too far into the future. Are you good at that?

DD: Yeah, we did! The tournament may have been a €1,150 buy-in, but even though most of the tables in the room were choc-full of recreational low-stakes players, our table looked like an EPT final table with me, you, Steve O’Dwyer, Parker Talbot, Fintan Hand, Kully Sidhu, and Vamshi Vandanapu all on it at various points.

I think staying level-headed remains one of my biggest strengths and I remember mentioning that to you after my Luton win, too. I realized that bagging 13 starting stacks was going to set me up for a very deep run quite often in such a field, and I felt laser-focused the whole time I was in Ireland, but even so I still had over 1,000 players left to get through.

I joked with Laura Cornelius that I thought I could win the event at the end of Day 1, but you can never seriously start to think about that until the very late stages. It wasn’t until I doubled through Benny Glaser with 11 or 12 left that I really thought “Okay, we have a good shot at this now.”

DL: Day 3 went very late and I noticed that a couple of the players complained about that. When the Tournament Director tells you that you are going to be burning the midnight oil, do you wish it wasn’t the case because you are tired or are you happy because you fancy yourself to play better than your opponents if everyone is tired? 

DD: I liked that we were told right at the beginning of Day 3 because you can then mentally strap yourself in for the ride, and I understood the decision because the field ended up being perhaps a bit larger than anticipated.

No amount of complaining is going to change the TD’s mind”

It’s just something you must deal with. No amount of complaining is going to change the TD’s mind if they physically don’t have the time to spare to give us a more restful day.

I’ve played enough 14-15-hour live tournament days over the years to build up a tolerance to long days, and I had just come off a 30-hour flight from Australia when I played Day 1B, so even though I would always rather be fresh given fresh David will make fewer mistakes than tired David, I probably am better at being tired and still playing reasonably well than most people.

DL: The final table was an eclectic mix – you had Irish legend Andy Black, former Partypoker Head of Poker Tom Waters, the unpredictable Carl Shaw, the dangerous Greek Panagiotis Mavritsakis, the very solid Eugeniu Barbaros, and Irish veteran Declan Rice. How were you sizing up your final table competition and how much did you fancy your chances in what was a very shallow stack affair? 

DD: There was certainly a clash of styles at the final table and a few players who were going to be more dangerous than others, particularly with shallow stacks. I had to tread quite carefully around Andy, Panagiotis, and Carl whereas Declan, Tom, and Eugeniu were more likely to have the goods if chips started piling in.

I was confident that I was the best player left when Benny Glaser busted in 10th, but that’s not to say that I didn’t have respect for the others because Andy and Carl in particular both have very impressive records. I don’t think there are many scenarios where I’d have been looking to do a deal, though. The money, while significant, wasn’t enough to make me uncomfortable playing it out, especially when I had more short-stacked experience and ICM knowledge than everyone else at the table, with the possible exception of Carl.

I’m generally happy to play it out if I think I have the edge”

I know it’s a high variance approach, but I see good regs make deals all the time in spots where I believe they’re costing themselves money. I’m generally happy to play it out if I think I have the edge.

DL: The moment of victory was a fun one to witness from the rail. You won the big all-in pot moments before, so Declan Rice was super-short shoving his J2 into your KT. He flopped a deuce but the river counterfeited him and you punched the air in delight. Describe that moment as best you can? 

DD: To be honest, I was just hoping he wouldn’t double up again because I didn’t want to get into the territory of him surviving four or five all-ins. When that happens, a game can start to stray into funny psychological territory.

I was watching Robbie Bull on the rail who had a swap with me and he seemed to be sweating it more than I was. I was just trying to be as chill as possible, but also be in the moment as much as I could. I soaked in my surroundings as the board was being dealt out and it was all very surreal. It was definitely one of the coolest moments of my life thus far. I just felt sheer relief and joy when that 6 hit!

DL: The Irish Poker Open is steeped in history and now you are part of that history. For the last Q&A we did, you quoted me some very appropriate Rudyard Kipling verses. Got anything to encapsulate this result? Maybe some Rabbie Burns? 

DD: I had a discussion with Owen Robinson many years ago about whether winning an EPT or the Irish Open would be more prestigious. I’d like to take this opportunity to state that I’ve changed my mind in recent days! It’s incredibly cool to have my name attached to the oldest poker tournament in Europe forever. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.

I’m not a trove of Facebook memes but I did watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas recently, so I’ll drop you some Hunter S. Thompson:

“Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.”

A thin wire

Well keep his balance on the thinnest of wires Docherty certainly did as he took home the lion’s share of the whopping €2,428,475 ($2,677,624) prize pool. A €365,000 ($402,447) was some parlay from $109 online satellite from which he qualified. It is the largest score of his career and it has taken him over the $1m mark in Hendon Mob total live earnings:

His name forever etched into Irish poker folklore, he joins the likes of Collete Doherty, Noel Furlong, Liam Flood, Neil Channing, James Michell, Marty Smyth, Joe Beevers, Ian Simpson, Dan Wilson, Paddy Clarke, Ryan Mandara, and last year’s champion Steve O’ Dwyer

a peculiar battle royale from which only one person can truly survive

Tournament poker is a funny old game, a peculiar battle royale from which only one person can truly survive. Docherty understands the frustration which that reality brings. He tasted defeat often before this recent purple patch and so he is best placed to appreciate it. 

To quote the great Hunter S. Thompson once more because why not…

“For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.”

IPO Main Event final table results

1. David Docherty €365,000 ($402,700)

2. Declan Rice €228,700 ($252,322)

3. Panagiotis Mavritsakis €161,500 ($178,181)

4. Tom Waters €124,500 ($137,359)

5. Andy Black €95,500 ($105,381)

6. Eugeniu Barbaros €73,500 ($81,105)

7. Carl Shaw €56,500 ($62,346)

8. Henri Olaja €43,500 ($48,000)

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