Cultural Poker Melting Pot at the Portugal Adventure

  • Dara finished 10th in the Troia Poker Cup, but was too late to register for the Main Event
  • Portuguese player André Emerenciano won the Main Event and the €58,000 first prize
  • Every tournament of the Portugal Adventure surpassed its guarantees
  • The mix of Irish and Portuguese culture was part of what made the festival so much fun
Casino de Troia
The Portugal Adventure at Casino de Troia is a worthy addition to the Irish Poker Tour. [Image:]

André Emerenciano takes the Main Event

One of the most anticipated new events on the calendar, the inaugural Portugal Adventure, saw international players heading to the small resort of Troia just south of Lisbon. The event was promoted and staged by the ever-growing Irish Poker Tour, which meant that the majority of travelers were from Ireland and the UK, but Spain, Iceland, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, France and many others were also represented, if the list of prizewinners is anything to go by.

Troia is a truly beautiful place with sunny beaches that stretch for miles, cooled by Atlantic breezes. My companion on the trip, Ray Wheatley, got there the day before me and had already scoped out the place, so we started our days before the poker with a two-hour walk along the beach.

The elegant Troia Casino was the venue for the poker. The first major event was the Irish Poker Tour Mystery Bounty where the €40,000 ($42,914) guarantee was passed on Level 2 and the eventual payout was over €80,000 ($85,828). Local star Alfredo Silva Costa Santos beat Ireland’s Mark Marriott heads-up to lift the trophy, but the biggest winner was England’s Oliver Braddock who won both the €7,000 ($7,510) Mystery Jackpots in consecutive hands on the Final Table.

at least it meant I didn’t brick the trip, I guess

Meanwhile, the Portugal Adventure Main Event attracted 480 entrants building a prize pool of €287,280 ($308,207) in total. I fired a couple of bullets in the first flight. The following day, I decided to fire first in the Cup which started earlier, figuring I could hop back in the Main whenever I bust that. I ended up busting the Cup in 10th minutes after late registration on the Main Event closed, but at least it meant I didn’t brick the trip, I guess.

After a long struggle, a Main Event final table emerged with four Portuguese, three Irishmen, one Greek, and a Dutchman. Eventually, home favorite André Emerenciano (€58,000/$62,225) beat Niek Minten (€39,000/$41,841) from the Netherlands with Pedro Adalberto Veiga, also from Portugal, taking third place honors and €21,000 ($22,530).

I sat out the Sunday, too, as I had an early flight on Monday to Vegas for the WSOP.

Lured out of hiding

Overall, the festival was a massive success. Every tournament was busy all week with all guarantees smashed. Portugal has always been one of my favorite poker destinations in Europe since my first visit in 2010 for EPT Villamoura. On that trip, I spent some time with the late, great Liam Flood at one of my first EPTs. Suitably depressed after getting knocked out a bit before the bubble by eventual winner Toby Lewis, I decided to spend the rest of the trip sulking in my room clicking buttons. Liam lured me out, telling me he had swapped 10% with an inexperienced player who was running deep. He said he was a bit worried that this guy might play a bit too tight in the latter stages and asked me if I could have breakfast with them and give the newb some pointers. I reluctantly agreed to postpone clicking buttons that day and joined them for a late breakfast.

You must have hurled abuse at me down the years then.”

The newb in question turned out to be Teddy Sheringham (the footballer). Shortly after I got there, Liam made his excuses and left us to it. I felt the notion of me dispensing advice to Teddy was slightly ridiculous, so I didn’t bother. Instead, I enjoyed a very pleasant breakfast talking about football, golf, sports, and life in general. He asked me who I supported and when I outed myself as a Gooner, he grinned: “You must have hurled abuse at me down the years then.”

No point in lying to the man: given that he played for Spurs, United, and Engerland, he pretty much ticked all the boxes in that department. Hopefully cheering for him on the final table was some sort of amends (he ended up coming fifth).

Footballers everywhere

As we were finishing our breakfast, we were joined by Tony Cascarino (the footballer). Teddy didn’t hang around, and I decided just leaving Cas on his own might be perceived as a little rude, so I postponed clicking buttons a little longer. I decided to make the minimum of conversation that would satisfy politeness standard while he wolfed down his bacon, but not get dragged into another heart to heart that might go on until another ex-footballer appeared out of the woodwork. Well, you can never be too careful, can you?

It turned out Cas was vaguely aware of me not just as a poker player, but as an ex-runner. But only vaguely. Very vaguely.

“You’re the former runner, right?”


“Yeah yeah. I remember you running in the Olympics.”

people tend to get a bit upset when you check-raise them

My mind started evaluating the two possible lines I could now take. I could check-raise him by pointing out that I never ran in the Olympics. In my experience though, people tend to get a bit upset when you check-raise them, and they rarely just fold quickly and leave it at that. I anticipated being asked for clarification, which would lead to me having to explain that ultra running wasn’t in the Olympics (and possibly why not, and maybe even a lengthy discussion about what ultra running even was). So I decided it was safer to just Call, and hope that ended the conversation.


“Yeah, yeah, I remember it well. Moscow, right?”

“Um…..well…..Moscow, yeah”

“So what was it like? Moscow?”

Suddenly, with no real idea as to why, I found myself backed into a tough conversational spot, having to describe what the Moscow Olympics were like. Despite never having been to the Olympics. Or even Moscow. But here I was having to talk about the weather there, the food, the women, the sights.

On this occasion I didn’t run into any footballers, but it was interesting to see the mixing of Irish and Portuguese culture. The Irish often had difficulty having their words understood, but the easygoing nature of both cultures gelled pretty well. One lad ordered a latte, but the waitress apparently heard “lager” and brought him a beer.

“Ah sure it’s grand, I’ll take it” said the easygoing easily persuaded Irishman.

All in all, the Portugal Adventure is a very welcome addition to the calendar and is clearly here to stay.

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