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What's The Craic? - PaddyPower Unveil Irish Open 2012

PaddyPower have officially announced the full schedule of the Irish Poker Open 2012. The event will take place over five days, between the 5th-9th April. As well as the much-anticipated €3500 Main Event, another seven side events are to be included, along with two new formats of multi-table tournaments not yet seen from previous Irish Opens.

The Irish Open over the years has become one of the few poker festivals outside of the WSOP and WPT that seem to attract a global following, both professional and recreational, making this one of the largest poker festivals in Europe and the most significant poker festival in the British Isles

One reason for its success is the history of the event, the Irish Open is in its thirty-first year, making it the longest running poker tournament outside of the World Series of Poker. It all began because of an eccentric bookmaker named Terry Rogers, who having been enamoured by the game of No-Limit Texas Hold’em while taking bets for his punters in Las Vegas (Benny Binion and Doyle Brunson, to name just two.) decided to take it back home to Ireland. Back then, draw and stud poker were the main games, but with Flood seeing the increase in skill involved with No Limit Hold’em, and the entertainment it brought to an audience, he knew he was onto a winner. With previous experience in tournament directing in his homeland, he held a no-limit hold’em tournament in 1981 and named it  “The Irish Open”. Over the thirty-one years since its birth,  it has been one of the key factors to the rise in popularity of No-Limit Hold’em not just in the British Isles, but across the whole of Europe.

Another reason why the Irish Open is so popular is the poker festival’s consistency in balancing the seriousness of the money involved with the laid-back, party-hard environment of Dublin, Ireland. Liam “The Gentleman” Flood, a former bookmaker, friend of Terry Rogers and previous winner of the Irish Open, spoke to Poker Player Magazine about the Irish Open and its atmosphere.

‘It’s half and half to do with the poker and the boozing. When you’re knocked out the tournament there’s a lot of partying going on.’

2012 WSOP Main Event Finalist, Eoghan O’Dea, is Ireland’s big star for the Irish Open 2012

Another method they’ve used to keep the party atmosphere going is the side events that take a slightly less serious side to the usual freezeouts that you get from other festivals. They’ve included a Six-Handed tournament, to produce a more action-packed game than full-ring, and also a brand-new “Win The Button” tournament, where winning the hand automatically makes you the dealer, providing a array of twists to the standard No-Limit Hold’em game. All this, along with the “Scalps” tournament, where each player you knock out earns you a “scalp” and some money, an event where you can get knocked out before the money, and still come out with a profit.

Despite the laid-back approach to the festival, the big hitters of poker tournaments continue to come out in their droves, before, it was the likes of Puggy Pearson, Stu Ungar, Tom McEvoy, Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese who would take the time to come from across the pond for the action. Today, 2012 WSOP Main Event Finalist Eoghan O’Dea, son of legendary Irish poker player and 6th-place finisher in the 1983 WSOP Main Event Donnacha O’Dea, is the main man to watch in Dublin during April. He’ll be joined by former Irish Open winner and Ireland’s favourite Liam Flood, 2011 Irish Open winner Niall Smyth, up and coming Irish poker player Jason Tompkins and Irish Winter Festival winner John Keown, looking to join the likes of Noel Furlong, Joe Beevers, Marty Smyth and Neil Channing as Irish Open Champion.

Despite the recession and the questions over online poker in recent times, the Irish Open will continue to be a big success regardless, through doing what it has done over the last three decades, producing a poker festival where everybody from the winner of the Main Event, to the first one out in the smallest side-event, has great craic.

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Perry Garland

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