Ladies and oldies shine at the Galway Poker Festival 2024

Women are the focus

Since I’ve been playing poker, the first big live stop has been in Galway every year. First there was the IPC, then the UKIPT (the very first UKIPT was held here) and more recently the IPT, all the brainchildren of Fintan Gavin. This year was no different: the first IPT of the year took place at the Galmont Hotel. The festival offered a wide range of events with aggressive guarantees, all of which were significantly exceeded. The €600 ($657) buy-in Main Event had a €300,000 ($329,000) guarantee, but 833 entries across six flights on day one generated a prize pool of €433,000 ($474,000).

The IPT has ushered in a new golden era of grassroots poker in Ireland. Another feature was the increase in women’s events and Galway was no exception. In addition to winning the women’s event hosted by IPT Ambassador Tanya Masters, Sia Browne also won the opening freezeout (defeating Game of Gold star Lukas Robinson heads-up) and was involved in a four-way chop of the monster -Events involved (a chop in which the legendary Irishwoman Wilhelmina “Willow” Connolly also took part).

Two of the top six on the overall leaderboard are female

Other women with deep runs included Liz Kelly, fresh off her race at the Dublin Main Event in November and finishing 5th in the Claddagh Cup (just ahead of her partner Derek Baker – more on him later), and Katie Harrington, which won the Claddagh Cup opener. At the time of writing, two of the top six on the overall leaderboard are female (Sia and Katie).

The old ones are the best

Poker’s other big forgotten demographic, seniors, also had a very good festival. I won my first live event in ten years: the Paddy Power Twitch 5k Freeroll. I tried to make the argument to anyone who would listen that this was actually the toughest (and therefore most prestigious) event of all, since you had to win a Twitch game on Paddy Power to qualify (so everyone did took part in it, an online smash) and there was no re-entry, but no one bought it. Although I’ve never been one to place much value on my poker trophies (when visitors to Doke Manor ask about the few dozen trophies in my cupboard, I’m very proud to show them the trophy I won for winning the Irish 24th). -hour race). Championships, the 6 Hour World Indoor Championships and the New York 60km, and I’m also very proud of my Leinster Chess Champion Cup, but not quite so much of this one, which I got for winning a lot of somersaults, and this one. “One where I met runner-runner”), it felt good to win a live tournament, even if there was more than a fair bit of luck involved.

All my “best hands,” but one held out

The final table was a real roller coaster ride: I ended up in 8th placeTh of nine and was shortest most of the time (falling under two BBs more than once), but I managed to be ahead every time except for the last hand. All but one of my “best hands” held, a hidden form of luck, similar to an acca on a set of odds-on favorites that all come in, meaning I had most of them when I was heads-up Ger Keenan played chips once. On the final hand, Ger beat Queens on the button supershort with the trap-lim, and when I check-raised all-in on a T-6-2 flop, he was faced with one of the best possible hands for the Queens, my Q -6, but another 6 on the river sealed the deal for me.

Many seniors had deep runs across most of the festival’s events, but the best was saved for last as Derek Baker topped a very strong main event final table that featured four of Ireland’s best pros of the last decade. These pros included Cathal “Shinerr” Shine (who had a great festival overall, winning 1k High Roller and reaching two other final tables), Marc McDonnell, Tommy “LuckyMo” Geleziunas and Ivan Tononi. When I folded with five BBs remaining, Derek told me he needed help with only 15 BBs, and that help came as he found himself on the right side of some strong hands against Cathal.

This time last year, Derek and I, along with Jay O’Toole, found ourselves in the final three seniors at this festival. Since it was dragging on longer than expected, Derek joked that our caregivers were starting to worry about us. Derek continued to have a good year on the live table, making so many final tables in the IPT circuit that he qualified for the Leaderboard playoffs at the end of the year.

Derek is a guy who has been popular in the scene for as long as I’ve been playing, but since the return of live poker after the COVID lockdown he seems to have really taken off. In the two years since, he has amassed almost five times as much money in live cash as he did in the decade before the pandemic.

Fun hours at the tables

Many of my foreign friends were visiting Galway for the first time and everyone remarked on the remarkable atmosphere and good vibes around the table. I saw several examples of sharp Irish wit during the festival. At one point in the main event I found myself sitting next to the inimitable Dermot Allen. When Andy Black came to speak to him, Dermot began with: “I’d like to tell you that you look good, Andy, but you don’t look good. You look like shit. Get a hold of yourself, man.”

Later, Paul Carr, winner of last year’s leaderboard, stopped by to chat to Dermot.

I was looking for Dara’s shirt and saw you right away.”

“I was looking for you, but I couldn’t see you. Then your daughter said, ‘He’s sitting next to Dara,’ so I looked for Dara’s shirt and saw you right away.”

Less fortunate was a student of mine who told Ciaran Cooney that he had never met me in person. As Ciaran scanned the room for the loudest shirt in the room, he quickly spotted it, pointed it in the right direction and set off. The only problem was that this time it wasn’t me in one of my shirts, but Colette “Smurph” Murphy in one of her blouses!

Let’s talk about Smidge

The festival also featured the first appearance of EPT Prague champion Padraig “Smidge” O’Neill since his victory there. Fintan and the IPT crew celebrated the occasion with a special presentation for Ireland’s first true EPT champion (as I pointed out in my speech, while Fintan got the lion’s share of the EPT Barcelona win prize, he didn’t get the trophy as much as we all did To love Steve O’Dwyer, he himself would admit he’s about as Irish as Lucky Charms.

Someone I have always admired as a player, but above all as a person

Most of my speech lamented the fact that I was not in Prague, because if I had been there I would certainly have had a share of the million he won in the form of an exchange. But honestly, I teared up talking about someone I’ve known since the beginning of both of our careers and who I’ve always admired as a player but, above all, as a person. I’ll be doing a detailed interview with Smidge here soon.


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