Dara O’Kearney: From the InterContinental to the InterClondalkinal

  • The Dublin Winter Festival took place at the Green Isle Hotel earlier this month
  • Thomas Faulkner triumphed in the Mystery Bounty, taking home €11,350 ($12,396)
  • James O’Sullivan overcame Derek Baker in the Main Event after agreeing a deal
  • Others did well in side events, including a 2nd for Paul Carr and 3rd for Conal Prendergast
Ireland map with Dublin pin
The Dublin Winter Festival saw poker players converge at the Green Isle Hotel in Dublin. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The Mystery Bounty

The Green Isle Hotel once more proved itself to be a magnet for Irish and international poker players as ambitious guarantees were smashed yet again at an Irish Poker Tour stop earlier this month, dubbed the Dublin Winter Festival.

there was a total prizepool of €38,000 ($41,501)

The festival opened with the €20,000 ($21,843) guaranteed Mystery Bounty. It looked like a big target for an event kicking off at Friday lunchtime, but owing to 131 entries and 37 re-entries there was a total prizepool of €38,000 ($41,501).

Anthony Gaughan pulled the first €3,000 ($3,276) bounty and a €1,500 ($1,638) but was knocked out in 11th. The second €3,000 bounty was not pulled out all through the FT knockouts until Keith Brennan and Thomas Faulkner were heads up playing with the knowledge that there was a huge benefit in finishing first. Eventually, Tom triumphed, winning a total of €11,350 ($12,396) with Keith having to settle for €4,050 ($4,423).

The Main Event

Meanwhile, the Main Event had started and the numbers grew quickly over the next day and a half until the original guarantee of €100,000 ($109,213) had been smashed (€195,000 ($212,964) was the final prize pool). Eventually, James O’Sullivan overcame Derek Baker to secure €39,000 ($42,593) in the heads up after agreeing a deal.

one of the best female players in Ireland and a formidable force

Remarkably Derek’s partner Liz Kelly finished third for €19,000 ($20,749). At the start of Day 2, a friend who had drawn Liz on their starting table asked me about her, and I shared my opinion with him that she was one of the best female players in Ireland and a formidable force.

At the recent inaugural Irish Poker Festival in the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge, I shared some table time with James, who tried a rather ambitious bluff against me. He told me at the time he just wanted a mention in my blog. I retorted that I would, but I had one rule: I never mention who knocks me out of a tournament (not wanting to give opponents that added incentive). On that occasion, he did end up knocking me out, but having taken down this Main Event (and not knocking me out of it), I guess I can reluctantly give him a mention this time.

Unsuccessful for some

It was a completely unsuccessful campaign for me. I came into it in 14th place in the leaderboard hoping to clinch my top 16 status in it with a couple of cashes to make the €40k ($43,699) leaderboard final, but after failing to cash anything I have slipped down to 16th. I’ll be out of the country for the remaining stops so my hopes of making that freeroll are all but gone.

Several of my friends and students did have a good festival though. Despite Paul Carr’s big lead in the aforementioned leaderboard he started to get worried when his main rival Darren Harbinson took down the Saturday Omaha sideshow and gained 400 points. Paul entered everything thereafter in an attempt to bounce back, and he snagged second place in the closing 4/5 Omaha.

Keith has endured the rollercoaster that is the vicissitudes of variance

Keith Touhey had a great festival too making two final tables, including a €13,500 ($14,749) score for fourth place in the Main Event after a disciplined display late on that was more respectful to ICM than most of his rivals. Keith has endured the rollercoaster that is the vicissitudes of variance since I first mentioned him in my blog, but to his credit has knuckled down rather than buckled under the pressure.

The unluckiest man on that final table was Colm Chan. With seven left, he was second in chips to James, and they were both miles clear of the rest. He then picked up Aces. After he threebet a James open, he responded to James four bet with a five bet shove. James called off with pocket eights, flopped a set and turned quads to send Colm to the rail. Colm is one of the classiest players and people you will ever meet, and it feels like only a matter of time before he takes down a big one.

An emotional win

The final special mention goes to my good friend Conal “Vautour” “Have you played with us before?” Prendergast.

There’s probably nobody who has played more Irish Poker Tour events than Conal, and he was so emotional when he finally cashed one, the Dublin 400 side event, he broke down in tears. He ultimately finished third in an event won by the impressive David Costello.

All roads lead back to the Green Isle (or as my friend Pat Neary quipped when he suggested the title of this piece, the “InterClondalkinal”) for the last event of the year in Ireland in the last few days of 2023.

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