It was a victory on home soil for Niall Smyth last night, when the Irishman took first place at the paddypower.com Irish Poker Open. The heads up phase was between Smyth and Indian born British pro Sunrider Sunar. Sunar was brought down to having only 7 big blinds left in his stack, so when Smyth pushed in on the button he left his opponent little choice but to call.
Smyth turned over to reveal Q5, while Sunar held A9.
It looked like Sunrider might have been about to boost his, admittedly rather sorry looking, chip stack after both failed to catch anything on the flop. The turn also produced nothing of value. However, the river brought up another 5. This made a pair for Smyth and gave him is victory, prompting a massive celebration from the spectators. Reports from Dublin say the whole of the Burlington Hotel soon resembled something from a Mardis Gras festival. The young Irishman now has winnings of €550,000 to grace his bankroll.
This is Smyth’s first major tournament victory, although he has made other moderate cash wins. In 2008 he was placed 20th in the PartyPoker Irish Poker Championship for $6,553. He came 11th in the same event the following year, taking $34,625. In 2009 he finished 75th in the Irish Poker Festival, taking $1,435.
The win should give Smyth’s future poker career prospects a significant boost. He is already in good company, as previous winners of the Irish Open include Neil Channing, Joe Beevers, Liam Flood and Marty Smyth.
The paddypower.com Irish Poker Open is the longest running No Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament in Europe. It is the second longest running tournament in the world, beaten only by the World Series of Poker. It was first organised back in 1980 by Terry Rogers, who was a well known Irish bookmaker. Rogers made annual trips to Las Vegas, and thus managed to convince many of his U.S. friends who competed in the WSOP to come to Ireland for the Irish Poker Open. These included the likes of Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Jack Keller and Tom McEvoy. Irish pro Donnacha O’Dea reminisces about the American’s visits:
“It was funny to see them try to pay for goods in Killiney village with chips from Terry’s poker tournament; something they were used to doing in Vegas.”
Final table payouts for the 2011 Irish Poker Open were as follows:
1. Niall Smyth (Ireland) – €550,000
2. Surinder Sunar (England) – €290,000
3. Martin Petri (Denmark) – €180,000
4. Seamus Cahill (Ireland) – €145,000
5. Aleksi Savela (Finand) – €115,000
6. Karl Rudwall (Sweden) – €85,000
7. Rob Taylor (Ireland) – €63,000
8. John Eames (UK) – €45,000
9. Niall McCann (Ireland) – €30,000