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Home / Poker / Irish Open Coverage Hub: Tero Laurila wins Main Event for €292,685

All you need to know about the Irish Open 2024


It’s all over. The record-breaking Irish Open Main Event 2024 has now reached its conclusion. The outright winner was Tero Laurila, who takes home €292,685 for his efforts following a three-handed deal.

Action resumed around noon local time with 14 players returning to the felts for the final day of the Irish Open Main Event.

Before the first break, less than two hours after the tournament had resumed, the final nine players were making their way over to the TV table for the true finale.


The first to bust the final day was Aidan Quinlan, who was severely short stacked when he called an early position raise on the button for most of his stack holding ace-queen. Quinlan paired his ace on the flop, but Brian Moore spiked a set of sevens on the turn to win the pot and eliminate Quinlan from the tournament.

Meanwhile, Hiep Ninh started his run of form when he hero called Konstantinos Vatseris’ river bluff to win the pot.

The next to go was local player Padraig Parkinson, a regular in live poker who has been around for a very long time and has picked up wins both at home and abroad across several decades. Padraig raised T-5 suited and then ripped it in on a ten high board. He was called by Georgios Tsouloftas, who had under-represented aces with a flat call preflop. Tsouloftas held and Parkinson was sent packing.

In what was shaping up to be an exhilarating couple of hours, Moore then busted out in 12th place after attempting a three-bet squeeze from the button. Stephen Groom four-bet all in and Moore had committed himself to the pot. Groom flipped over aces and held to eliminate Moore and bring his own stack up to 13.4 million.

Robert Shanley popped it in with a short stack and was called by Vatseris in the big blind. Shanley had king-eight and Vatseris had him dominated with ace-king, holding to bust Shanley in 11th place.

Moments later, Vatseris lost a huge flip and was left short stacked, then lost his last few chips to Ninh to bust in 10th place.

With that, the final table was set. Play paused while media scrambled for interviews and photos, before the TV team prompted the game to restart.


Soon after the final table began, Mark Johnston flopped the nut flush and was paid off by David Tous, who then lost the rest of his chips to Ninh during a preflop all-in when Ninh hit a straight. Johnston, a young professional who is only recently making his mark on the live scene, finished in ninth place for €38,420.

Action continued in a loose fashion. Next up, Tsouloftas raised to one million from the cutoff and Adrian Thorne tanked before moving all-in for a touch over 9 million. Tsouloftas had ace-king and Thorne had ace-five. Both players paired and Thorne was sent out in eighth place for €49,960.

Following the latest bust, Boyce doubled up with a set of kings against Mark Johnston and then Tsouloftas won a big pot with a rivered straight against Groom’s two pair.

The next bustout, however, was Vidmantas Beliauskas. Mark Johnston raised with pocket nines and Beliauskas moved all in from the big blind with ace-ten. Johnston’s nines held and Beliauskas was eliminated in 7th place for €64,960.

Two rapid eliminations then came in quick succession. First up, Ninh raised from the hijack and Stephen Groom moved all from the cutoff. Tero Laurila four-bet all in from the small blind over the top and Nihn folded. Groom had pocket jacks and Laurila had pocket queens. Laurila further improved to a set of queens on the flop to win the pot. Groom took €84,480 for sixth place, which is nearly 20 times his previous total live earnings.

Next up, Oliver Boyce got tangled up against Ninh postflop. The chips went in on the turn and Ninh had top pair. Boyce missed his straight draw on the river and was eliminated in fifth place for €109,820. The local player and Irish Open veteran was the first player in the tournament to pick up a six-figure score.

By this point, Ninh was on a heater. He picked up top pair again soon after and Georgios Tsouloftas moved all in with a straight draw. Ninh once again held and Tsouloftas was out in fourth place, good for €142,760.


The Irish Open Main Event was down to just three-players who had slogged through the field of 3,233 entries to get this far and were all now playing for very serious six-figure scores. Hiep Ninh had a huge chip lead, while Mark Johnston and Tero Laurila were both pretty much even in chips.

The clock was paused for a long time as the deal was discussed. Eventually, players had reached an agreement. Hiep Ninh would take €309,979, while Mark Johnston and Tero Laurila agreed to €232,685 each.

The rest of the prize money was kept in play as action resumed, an additional €60,000 more for the winner and €25,657 for second place.

The blind levels were then cut to 20-minutes following the deal.

Soon after the deal was made, Laurila got the double up through Ninh, getting his pocket tens in good against sixes. That gave Laurila the chip lead and drastically reduced Ninh’s stack, a sign of a potential change of dynamic at the final table.

Moments later, Johnston moved all in from the button and Ninh isolated from the small blind. Johnston has pocket nines and Ninh had ace-jack. Ninh paired his ace on the flop and held to win the classic race. Johnston locked up €232,685 after the deal. That’ll be a huge boost to the young pro’s live poker bankroll.

Ninh went into the heads-up battle with a significant chip lead, but soon after Laurila pulled it back, then gained a lead after making a hero call against Ninh’s triple barrel bluff. He continued to chip away until Ninh was down to just ten big blinds.

Ninh shoved from the button with 8-7 offsuit and Laurila called in the big blind with queen-jack suited. The board ran out Q-2-9-Q-Q to give Laurila quads on the final hand of the event.

Ninh was eliminated in second place for €335,636, the biggest cash prize out of all players following the deal.

Tero Laurila finished the tournament in first place for €292,685 and the beautiful trophy. It’s official. Laurila is the new Irish Open Main Event champion!

In an interview with Laura Cornelius, Laurila said, “Right now, I feel excellent. As you saw, I almost passed out!… I’m going to go and celebrate with my friends.”


March 27th – April 1st
Entries: 3,233
Prize pool: €3,152175

1st – Tero Laurila – €292,685*
2nd – Hiep Ninh – €335,636*
3rd – Mark Johnston – €232,685*
4th – Georgios Tsouloftas – €142,760
5th – Oliver Boyce – €109,820
6th – Stephen Groom – €84,480
7th – Vidmantas Beliauskas – €64,960
8th – Adrian Thorne – €49,960
9th – David Tous – €38,420

*Denotes a deal


From 3,233 entries, the Irish Open Main Event is now down to just nine players who have taken their seats on the final table to battle it out for the top prize of €415,615.

At the start of the final table the blinds were 150,000 / 300,000 with a 300,000 BB Ante.

Stephen Groom came to the final table as the chip leader with 17,725,000, closely tailed by Hiep Ninh in second.

We caught up with most of the final table players before play resumed.

Seat 1 – Mark Johnston – 9,375,000

Mark Johnston is a 21-year old professional from Northern Ireland who starting playing poker at a young age. He’s currently in his second gap year at university and now considers himself a pro player.

“I’m mainly a cash game player, I’ve done well in cash.”

Johnston plays poker most days, although he “only started playing the live tournament events in around September/October time.”

Despite being relatively new to the scene, he’s a confident player who comes to the final table with an average stack.

Seat 2 – David Tous – 12,925,000

31-year old poker professional David Tous has played poker for 10 years. He started off playing at the university with friends and, after a few months, he had improved his game to such a level that he was winning on a regular basis.

Just a couple of weeks ago, David finished 13th in EPT Paris for €76,300, his best live cash to date. He’s no stranger to live poker events and his HendonMob results date back to 2014 when he also finished 13th in the Estrellas Main Event during EPT Barcelona. Tous also once won $150,000 playing a SCOOP event.

He’s really enjoyed his first Irish Open visit. “It’s a perfect event. It’s my first time and I’m coming back for sure.”

David will start the final table with 12,925,000 in chips (43 big blinds) and is currently third in the chip count.

Seat 3 – Hiep Ninh – 17,675,000

Hiep Ninh is not much of a media type of guy. He didn’t really want to answer any questions, instead looking to focus on the poker.

His previous biggest score on Hendon Mob is €11,810 for a fifth place finish at the 2022 Dublin Poker Festival, as well as a few more results locally around Ireland.

Hiep Ninh came to the final table as the chip leader. He’s already set for his biggest live score and perhaps a huge six-figure score.

Seat 4 – Stephen Groom – 17,725,000

Stephen Groom is a 33-year old software engineer from North-East England who discovered poker at a young age watching high stakes poker on TV.

“We graduated playing pub games, some of us went further than others, some fell out of love with it. I never gave the game up so I’ve been playing now for 15 years.”

Groom once won $18,000 on Stars but when it comes to his best result, in his own words, “I think we’re looking at it.”

Regarding the Irish Open, Groom says, “It’s my first time and it certainly won’t be the last”.

Groom is mostly a cash game player, but he came to the final table second in chips and with a decent chance of taking it all the way.

Seat 5 – Oliver Boyce – 10,200,000

Oliver Boyce is soon to be 50 years old and is looking forward to qualifying for the seniors event next year. He’s an experienced player who’s been at it all his life and a consultant for a big tech company.

“I started playing poker with my granny when I was five or six. Donegal families play poker all the time. And I’m still playing now all these years later”

Boyce doesn’t play too often now. “I played a lot 20 years ago, I had a great run before the boom and during the boom I had a great run. When my daughter was born 16 years ago I kind of cut it all out again, because I don’t have the energy or time.”

Despite rarely finding time to play, he’s had decent wins that include two UK titles, a World Series Mini in Dublin, the World Speed Poker championship, and a Sunday major title online.

Boyce is a veteran of the Irish Open and first played the event over 20 years ago. ““It’s an amazing event. This year it’s very clear it’s an international event. It’s 60 percent people from outside the country, which is amazing! It’s great to see so many high ranked players here playing a 1k event.”

Outside of poker, Boyce is a consultant for a big tech company. “That’s why this is only a bit of fun.” Bit of fun it might be, but Boyce came to the final table with an average stack and a chance of earning a huge score.

Seat 6 – Tero Laurila – 7,525,000

Tero Laurila is from Finland and is almost 39 year old. He’s a full time player who started playing poker in 2005.

“I play often. I try to play as much as possible. Mostly live games and PLO cash game is my main game”

Laurila’s best results came back in the day. “I was fourth in PokerStars WCOOP Main Event for $126,000. It was in 2006. Last year, I won a main event at a series in Barcelona. So, that’s my best result in live games”.

Laurila enjoys the atmosphere and how well everything is organized. “It’s the best series I have been to.”

Seat 7 – Vidmantas Beliauskas – 6,675,000

Vidmantas Beliauskas is originally from Lithuania and now lives in Ireland – at least, that’s the assumption given that all his results are from Irish poker events, including his top score, €13,300 for second place in an event at the Killarney Poker Festival.

He comes to the final table second to last in chips but still with plenty of play with as he looks to lock up a serious sum of money.

Seat 8 – Georgios Tsouloftas – 6,675,000

34-year old Cypriot poker player Georgios Tsouloftas comes into the final with an impressive poker C.V, notably including a big $260k score in the 2022 $3k Merit Main Event. Hailing from Limassol in Cyprus, Tsouloftas remembers a hero call with TJ for his tournament life that proved a crucial hand in his run to the final.

Well-placed in chips, Tsouloftas has had a very positive experience here at the RDS. “It’s been lovely, the organisation is very structured. Everyone is very friendly and happy. I really like it.” Tsouloftas comes into the final table well-placed in fourth and, when asked if he could win, he said with a small smile that suggested confidence, “I have a chance…”

Seat 9 – Adrian Thorne – 4,650,000

Adrian Thorne is a 30 year old Irish poker player who’s right at home, literally, given Dublin’s his hometown. Expect some vocal support on the rail. Adrian survived a thorny moment early in the tournament, holding kings versus queens and aces. It looked like his Main Event might have been done but a king in the window breathed fresh life into his challenge and helped propel him to the final table.

Thorne comes into the final set for his biggest live score (his previous best being just €2k) and, unsurprisingly, has had great impressions of the Irish Open so far. “It’s the first time I’ve been but I really like it.”

Despite coming into the final as the shortstack, Thorne isn’t going to let that dampen his hopes. “If I get the cards, I can win!”


Team Ireland versus England culminated in a heads-up battle between the team captains, Spraggy for England and Fintan Hand for Ireland. It was a dramatic outcome that was over in a flash!

The pair met early morning on the final day of the Irish Open and sat down across the table from each other, Spraggy with a significant chip advantage that he’d gained as a result of England’s performance in the various challenges throughout the week.

Those challenges included inflatable horse racing, sumo wrestling, darts poker, shuffleboard and cornhole, which resulted in a lot of laughs and good times, the highlight for many being Parker Talbot’s romp down the obstacle course pulling up his quickly deflating horse costume in the pissing down rain. You can’t write it.

As a result, Spraggy came in with 50,000 chips for Team England, while Fintan Hand had 30,000.

A random draw determined that the pair would play ten hands of poker before they were forced all in every hand. In the end, it wouldn’t take any where near that number.

It was all over in one hand!

Fintan Hand limped the button and Spraggy checked his option. The flop came Qc-8h-7h. Spraggy checked and Fintan bet 2,000, which Spraggy called. The turn was the 4s and Spraggy checked again. Fintan sized up to 7,000 and Spraggy called. The river was the 6c. Spraggy checked for a third time and Fintan shoved. Spraggy quickly called.

“I have a straight,” said Spraggy as he flipped over 4-5. Fintan had Q-T for two pair.

With that, Team England were declared champions!


The record-breaking Irish Open Main Event is set to play down to a winner today. Out of a total of 3,233 runners, just 14 returned for the final day to play for the top prize of €415,615. You can follow the action live on PokerNews, while PokerStars Blog will be bringing you player profiles for the final table as well as a final table recap.

The room is still jam packed with poker action on the official last day of the series. Alongside the Main Event, the Mini Irish Open has reached its final day after nine starting flights attracted 5,320 entries, making it the biggest tournament ever held in Ireland in terms of entries. There’s €85,000 for the winner, a huge prize considering the €200 buy-in.

The €1,100 Mystery Bounty and €1,100 PLO Mystery Bounty events also play down to a winner today and there’s a handful of one-day events to keep players of all levels engaged. They are the €250 Seniors Event, €550 PLO, €1100 Turbo and €150 Turbo.


The €3,000 High Roller was still playing with a full final table late last night. Dominik Nitsche had the chip lead, a lead he’d held on to for much of the final table. Nitsche eventually crashed out in third place for €48,200.

That left Welsh pro Roberto Romanello heads-up with German Samuel Ju. It was Ju who won the battle to claim first place. Romanello took €80,000 for second place, adding to a stack of five-figure scores.

Samuel Ju came first for €95,275.


The Irish Open is known for being a right good craic. As a reporter covering the event, it was imperative to get properly involved before the weekend was over. It just felt like the right thing to do.

So, last night, once the poker had died down, I headed over to the Player’s Party with my newfound Estonian friends. We started off with a competitive game of shuffleboard followed by a good ole’ knees up.

The Craic Den was booming with players and staff alike. There’s no need for women dressed as peacocks here. There’s nothing showy or flamboyant going on. Just bands and DJs. People chatting and dancing. A free bar. A normal party. A good time.

There’s no doubt that the Irish Open is one of the most fun events you can visit. There are cash games running all night, bars, food trucks open until late – something for everyone, whether you’re here for the poker or the parties. Everyone speaks highly of the event. It really is up there as one of the best on the circuit.

It might not have the sunshine of Cyprus or the prestige of Monte Carlo. But the Irish Open has a really good soul.


The High Roller is still running and is now on the final table. At the time of writing, Dominik Nitsche was the chip lead with over 2.5 million chips, holding a 2-1 chip lead over second place Samuel Ju. The tournament is set to finish tonight, but it would be a good few hours before it reaches heads-up. We’ll update you on the result tomorrow.

Over in the Main Event, there’s one more level to play. Action will resume tomorrow at midday and likely won’t yet be on the final table. At the time of writing, Oliver Boyce held the chip lead with 16 players remaining. The top prize for that one is €415,615.

PS Blog will be here bright and early to grab player profiles for the final tablist and follow the Main Event action down to a winner. You can also keep up with live updates on PokerNews.


It was the moment everyone in the room with no hope of winning a poker tournament had been waiting for, the infamous Irish Open lotto.

In typical Irish spirit, the first name called out does not win. Last year, Laura Maxwell, PokerStars photographer Danny Maxwell’s wife was called first, much to the dismay of the lovely couple.

This year, there were 4,738 entries for the lotto. The room erupted in ironic cheers as the first name was called. Then, the second number was drawn, ticket number 4,584.

I held my breathe. It was a high number, someone who had bought their ticket late on today. A few of us were in the queue moments before entry closed. It could be us… It isn’t us.

The Irish Open lotto winner is UK player Ashley Canning, who won a see-through bag of cash. If he can get it home without getting mugged and then smuggle it on the plane back, Canning will be good for €23,690.


The €550 JP Masters attracted 566 entries, which made for a prize pool of €275,925.

Local pro Dan Wilson, who won the Irish Open in 2016 for €150,000, came third for €23,070.

Robin Roth of Switzerland finished in second place for €32,300, picking up his biggest live score according to Hendon Mob.

The winner was Eriks Krumins of Latvia, who topped the field for €51,675. It was Krumins biggest live win by far and first trophy.

He’s at the Irish Open after winning a couple of satellites on PokerStars.

“This is my biggest cash by far. My previous biggest cash was like 10k,” said Krumins.

“It’s my first time at the Irish Open, I really enjoy it. It’s a great series, I lot of tournaments, a lot of players, I love it.”

“The win means a lot. It will go towards my poker live career, playing more series definitely, more PokerStars series definitely.”

It’s not the end for Krumins. He’ll be back at the tables tomorrow for Day 2 of the Mini Irish Open.


I’m feeling good today and it could well be my last opportunity to get involved with the cash games, so I head over to the information desk to ask a load of newbie questions. How do I register? What’s the minimum buy-in? That kind of thing.

I have to download the Pokerlens app, which is a relatively painless process, then I’m put on a short waiting list for the €1/€2 NLHE cash games. When my name goes yellow on the list, I scan my barcode and, after two failed attempts, I finally have my ticket for table 10.

Before I sit down, I need to get my chips, so I head to the cash desk and request €150 euros worth of chips. The lady behind the counter recognizes me and wills me to spin it up 100x. I tell her she’s due a generous tip if that happens, but not to get her hopes up…

I sit down at the table and the first hand I get dealt ace-king in early position. There’s a weird Mississippi straddle, which bumps the min-bet up to €5. Another player raises to €30 and I stick my €150 in the middle. He calls and asks if I want to run it twice.

“As you like,” I say…

It turns out he’s also got ace-king, so we split the pot, which turns out to be a loss after the rake.

A player called Robby Anderson sits down to my right with about €700 and it looks like the action’s about to pick up a bit. He gets in a battle with an older gent across the table, who Roby says reminds him of Bricktop from Snatch.

I’m card dead now and don’t play a hand for several circuits. Which is very annoying, because most pots are getting bumped up to between €30 and €100 preflop. All I need is a decent hand or two and I’ll be flying. But the decent hands never come.

Instead, I nit it up for close to an hour. Every pot I raise is three-bet, forcing me to either shove or fold. I miss one bluff spot on the river which I know I should have fired. At this point, my balls are pretty shrivelled.

The action slows down as a couple of players leave, then we are joined by a few new players. The table is starting to get more fun, but my stack is down to around €95 and I’m getting a little weary of time. I am, after all, supposed to be working.

I decide that my best course of action is to pick a spot to move all-in and play for the dead money or force the looser players to call behind.

I pick up king-nine suited and Robby, the guy with the massive stack who loves action, makes it €15 to go. There’s more than €20 in dead money in the pot and Robby’s range is loose, so I push my stack in the middle.

“You don’t look very confident mate,” says an Irishman in late position.

“I always look like this,” I tell him. He laughs and makes the fold.

Action is back on Robby. “Have you got a pair?”. He decides I haven’t got a pair and that’s apparently enough information to make the call with what I now know is going to be the worst hand. He calls and flips over 8-3 suited.

I’m in good shape, but it still doesn’t feel great.

The flop runs out to give him a pair of eights and I pick up an open-ended straight draw with overcards. The turn pairs the board and the river gives Robby a full house.

That’s it. It’s all over for me. I make sure to get the guy’s name before I leave so that I can publically call him out in this post, my only course of retribution.

It makes a good story. Or a story, at least…

I throw a few more euros in for the lottery, which will be drawn at 9 p.m. tonight. The winner will take home a bag of cash worth upwards of 15k.

Despondent PS Blog reporter


Following the first break in the Main Event, Georgis Tsouloftas of Cyprus took the chip lead with 3,930,000 chips and 69 players remaining. The next payout is worth 6,280.

In the €3,000 High Roller, Bert Stevens is out in front with 750,000 chips. There arer 36 players remaining, including PokerStars ambassadors Spraggy (36,000), Parker Talbot (99,000) and Fintan Hand (300,000).

The €550 JP Masters is reaching the final stages with just 18 players remaining. Eriks Krumins led with over 2.5 million chips had nearly a 2x lead over second place Sven Wildhaber.

In the €1,100 PLO Mystery Bounty, 32 players remain and Jussi Tapani Nevanlinna sits in first with 360,000, with local player Mark Buckley only slightly behind in second.


Team Ireland versus England shenanigans continued last night with both Shuffleboard and Cornhole competitions in the Craic Den.

Main Event qualifiers Jenny and Andy, who both won UKIPT Malaga tickets earlier in the event, represented Team Ireland in the Shuffleboard, while Buvey of The Fellas and Irish Open attendee Richard played for Team England. Jenny and Andy prevailed to make it to the final.

In the Cornhole, attendees Ricky and Fran played for Team Ireland and Anna and Scott Duxbury (aka Duckerz and Wubbsy) represented Team England and made it through to the final. There’s an excellent interview with Anna Duxbury on PokerNews.

The final was another round of Shuffleboard. Anna and Scott won the match to gain yet more points for Team England, which means Spraggy will have a chip advantage heading into the heads-up match against Fintan.

The heads-up match is supposedly being played out on Monday at 10am, a strange time indeed. We’ll bring you the results of that tomorrow.


It’s a lovely, sunny day here in Dublin, which is great news for everyone apart from the man who’s slumped on a bench outside the pub asleep next to a carton of half eaten chips who looks like he’s been then since the night before. He could well end up with a sunburned neck.

For the rest of us, sunshine is very welcome at this time of the year.

It’s going to be a busy day at the tables today at the Irish Open, with the Main Event reaching the business end and several Championship events wrapping up, too.

Greek player Konstantinos Vatseris headed into Day 3 as the chip leader, followed by Irishman Simon Wilson in second. Conor Beresford is also in the top ten (more details on the Main Event below). Day 3 is scheduled to play until midnight or until eight players remain, whichever comes first.

The €3,000 High Roller is also set to wrap up. PokerStars ambassadors Fintan Hand and Spraggy are still in the mix, while Alejandro Vazquez Gomez had the chip lead at the start of Day 2.

The €500 JP Masters and €1,100 PLO Mystery Bounty will also play down to a winner today.

Elsewhere on the schedule, there’s not one, but three more starting flights for the €200 Mini Irish Open, which is set to be the biggest lower stakes poker tournament ever held in Ireland. The €1,100 NLH Mystery Bounty and €1,100 PLO also kick off today.

The vague plan here at PokerStars Blog is to catch up with a couple of pros, maybe hounding Conor Beresford into an interview, as well as keeping an eye out on the results of the tournaments that are set to reach their conclusion.


Following eight one-hour levels of play, Day 2 of the Irish Open has now wrapped up for the evening. Out of the 743 players who returned to the felt at the start of the day, just 109 now remain.

The action moved very fast at the start of the day and the bubble burst early on when Henri Ojala, Sean Cunningham and Gary Kirwan all busted out during hand-for-hand to split two min-cashes.

Those who have made it through to Day 3 will be looking to take a chunk of the €3,152,175 prize pool. The next payout is worth €4,720 and the outright winner is set to walk away with €415,615.

Way out in the lead is Greek player Konstantinos Vatseris with 3,215,000 chips and not far behind is Irishman Simon Wilson with 2,710,000.

Poker beast Conor Beresford currently sits in fifth place with 1,990,000 and will certainly be one to watch on Day 3, his stack and skill level putting him up there as a favourite should the cards fall his way.

PokerStars ambassador and commentator Alex Romero is also up at the top end of the table (1,595,000), as is PS Live Event Specialist Brandon Nguyen (1,465,000) and Irish pro Dara O’Kearney (1,460,000).

PS Team Pro Sebastian Huber (480,000) is still in with a shot and so is Adam McKola (235,000), although both have work to do tomorrow to spin up their stacks.

For PokerStars Blog, the coverage picks up tomorrow with more features and interviews as the event plays down towards the final table. Remember to check out the live updates over on PokerNews.

Konstantinos Vatseris finished Day 2 as chip leader


Fintan Hand agreed to a quick chat during his break from the Main Event. It’s not too hard to find him as he’s donning a green suit decorated with clovers, about as Irish as an Irishman can look.

Fintan showed his competitive side as he talked about Team Ireland versus England, pointing out a potential weakness in Spraggy’s heads-up game that could lead him to victory on the final night.

How you doing? You’re looking very good in the suit…

Thank you, appreciate it.

Where did you get this fine garment?

My mum bought this for me many years ago for my first ever Irish Open, I final tabled. I saved it that time until the final table, but you know, big field now, I wasn’t sure about making the FT so we’re pulling it out on Day 2.

I don’t know how I’m going to get any more Irish for Day 3 but I’ll have to find something. I don’t know what it’ll be right now, but we’ll find something.

I remember you had a lucky charm in Scotland too (the UKIPT), didn’t you?

I went to Nottingham after that, cashed the high roller, cashed the Main Event, and then gave it to Stephen Warburton because I got knocked out of the tournament so it wasn’t lucky any more. And I haven’t cashed another tournament since. So, I shot myself in the foot.

I’m not a superstitious man, but I feel like I messed with the Scottish ju-ju, so…

How’s the Main Event going?

It’s going okay now. I’ve got 30 big blinds coming back after the break with 289 players left. I’ve played some very, very large pots today and the fact that I have an around average stack, I’m pretty happy. If you lose the big ones and don’t get knocked out it’s pretty good.

If I can get a double up then all good, if not I’ll just keep grinding away and see what happens.

When was your first Irish Open?

I’ve only played three Irish Opens, it’s pretty crazy. I used to be a poker dealer in Dublin and we were not allowed to play during the Irish Open because they needed all the dealers at that time, it was a very busy period.

Then I moved to Malta for nearly 10 years and it wasn’t sponsored by Stars, so I’m not going to fly from Malta to Dublin for an event that wasn’t Stars. Then it was lock down.

So I played (the Irish Open) this year, last year, and 2017. The first time I ever played it, I final tabled it, punted the living daylights out of the final table, so that one has scars.

What makes the Irish Open special? What makes it different to other events?

I think there’s lots of things that make it a special event. I like the fact that it’s such a historic event for starters, it’s so old, the oldest one in Europe.

I think that the price point for such a large tournament is great. There’s obviously arguments to make it a higher buy-in. But when you have it at 1k, a lot of the UK and Irish grinders can get over and play for a prize pool of €3.5M. That’s pretty special.

Paddy Power and PokerStars have done a great job with all the satellites. And for me personally, I think this room is one of the prettiest poker rooms, full stop, not just in Europe, or Ireland or the UK, but I think it’s up there with the best rooms I’ve played in. It’s a 400 year old room, or something.

So, I like the history of it, I like the fact that everyone’s chatty at the tables, of course, the afterparty antics are what everyone loves. Irish people are just sound at the poker tables, so every table is enjoyable to play on.

You’re a nice people…

Yeah, for the most part.

Unless you say the wrong shit then you’re getting glassed.


Have you been enjoying the England versus Ireland shenanigans?

I’m a person who pretends he’s not competitive, and then when we’re losing I’m sore as anything. The first event I obviously cheated incredibly hard to get the win for Ireland. As I’ve said, a win is a win, I got the job done. Spraggy took that very well.

But then my darts team. I would have been better off with a bunch of lads who are blind who had no hands. My team was so bad. I was salty, I left the darts so fast afterwards.

So yeah, I’m enjoying it but I don’t want to lose and at the moment we are behind. Ultimately, it will come down to heads-up between myself and Spragg, so it will be on me to get the job done. I’m going to try my very best.

Do you think you’ve got him?

Yeah, I think so. Spragg is a former heads-up professional, he’s good at heads-up, but he’s also extremely mentally weak when he’s playing against his friends. So I’ll just say one or two things to put him on tilt and he’ll just punt it away.

I’ve heard Tonka’s crashing at yours for a couple of weeks after this?

My wife is going away on Tuesday, she’s going to a hen-do in Greece for a full week, so it’s me and Parker minding my almost two year old baby. It’s going to be the longest I’ve been on my own with her, plus Parker’s going to be there so… I don’t know, it could be a little bit of a messy situation, but hopefully we’ll be alright.

I’m looking forward to having him, I’ve known Parker for as long as anyone in poker, he’s one of my oldest friends and one of my best friends, someone who helped me a lot in the early years. Very exciting to have him.

We’re going to go down to Monte Carlo, but also have a few videos planned, which should be cool.

Fintan Hand went on to finish 209th in the Main Event, cashing for €3,080.


Following a pause in the competition last night, the England versus Ireland challenge resumes on Saturday night with a Shuffleboard and Cornhole competition between the two teams.

Spraggy leads team England, who have been joined by Parker Talbot, Adam McKola, Rory Jennings. Team Ireland is led by Fintan Hand, with teammates Marle Spragg, Chris Dowling and Mark Buckley.

Substitutions have been made as and when they were needed, such as for the darts competition on Thursday night when several ambassadors were still playing poker.

Following the darts night, England are marginally ahead with 57 points to Ireland’s 51 points. There’s all to play for as the competition hots up tonight in the Craic Den.

The final takes place on Sunday, when team points will be converted into chips for a heads-up match between Fintan Hand and Spraggy.

“Ultimately, it will come down to heads-up between myself and Spragg,” said Fintan, “so it will be on me to get the job done. I’m going to try my very best.”

PokerStars Blog interviewed Fintan Hand to get his take on the Irish Open and Team England versus Ireland. That interview will be published very soon.


Adam McKola is on a bit of a run again, this time in the Irish Open Main Event. At the time of the interview, he was sitting on a stack of over double the average. He has made the money and has a real shot at going deep.

McKola talks to us about the tournament, the poker coaching he’s taken up, The Fellas live show, and poker-football crossovers.

I’m a bit ropey today mate so you’ll have to bear with me…

Same, I’m hanging on by a thread.

I was going to ask you how it’s going, but it’s looking decent…

Yeah, it’s looking good at the moment. Luckily, I got an early night last night because Dublin has been kicking my butt. But yeah, getting an early night has done me well.

I think playing Day 1a and getting to Day 2 is lovely because you can chill for a few days and Dublin’s the perfect place for it.

So, getting in today I started with about 229,000, I went down quite early to about 150,000, a few bluffs on the river that didn’t get through. And then managed to win a few flips, had some decent hands, ace-king suited versus queens, kings in against jacks.

I’ve been very lucky with some of the hands I’ve been getting. But also, I have got a few bluffs through there, trying to throw my stack around the table.

It’s so new to me like. The thing with me is as soon as I have a stack like that (points to stack) I start shaking and stuff, my chips are all over the place. I think everyone can tell that this guy doesn’t have too many chips.

But really enjoyed it and hopefully now, 13 players from the money, I cashed last year, I’ve got a stack that can hopefully get me as deep as possible.

How long have you been playing now on the live scene?

So, during Covid I played just online, and then a year or two later we started on the live scene. So it’s been about two or three years now mooching about. I’ve done a UKIPT in Dublin and this is my second Irish Open.

So yeah, I’m starting to get used to it now. I’ve been taking lessons as well with Jordan at BBZ and he’s been massively helpful to me as well. Obviously, he looks at some of my hand histories and he goes, “Jesus Christ, what’s going on here!”.

But it’s all about learning now, I love it so much because you’re constantly learning and picking up something new every day. Everyone who you meet at the tables is really different.

I was on a great table today, not only because I doubled up a few times but because everyone’s having a laugh, having a joke, and the Irish Open is all about that.

So, you did a live show the other day didn’t you?

Yeah, we did a live show yeah, The Fellas against The Club. I thought it went well, it was good fun, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves in the crowd.

We’d all had one or two too many by that point, which you could tell by the end. But I did think it was a really, really good night. Hopefully we get to do a few more things like that on these trips and really try to bring our audiences to here, because what’s going on here is amazing, I love it.

Are you anticipating a bit more of the crossover stuff coming up?

Yeah, I’d love to do a bit more of that. I think there’s a lot of football fans who do play poker. When you’re walking around here, you see all these different football jerseys, classic ones, vintage ones, new ones, you see all sorts.

There’s plenty of football fans here, so hopefully we can bring them to us and we can bring a few over to the poker as well.

I won’t keep you long because I know you want to go and enjoy your break. Have you got anything in the pipeline this year outside of poker?

Not really, just obviously going to carry on grafting with the football stuff, The Club is still going strong, Stretford Paddock is still going strong.

All I’m hoping for is Manchester United to turn things around a little, so I can be smiling making football videos instead of fuming every week. That’s all I need, for United to turn it around.


The room simmers into a low hum of anticipation as the bubble approaches. A message flashes up on the digital screens around the room, replacing the clocks. “ON THE BUBBLE”.

The tournament director made the announcement. “Dealers, finish the hand you are on and stop.”

Camera crews are gathering around table 18 for an all in or call. A neutral player at the table calls out an open prop bet. “I’ll bet 100 that guy has queens,” he says, pointing to seat three. The odds look good to me, so I snap him up on the bet, before realizing that he’s already seen the hand. He lets me off…

The cards were turned on their backs. Henri Ojala, the shorter stack, showed pocket eights, while Stephen Groom showed pocket queens. The board ran out 7c-9d-6d-6h-6s. Groom held with his pocket queens and seat two was eliminated.

Then, confusion ensued. Nobody, from the players to the floor staff, seemed to know how many people were left in the tournament and whether the bubble had burst.

Somewhere else in the huge room of tables, another all-in was played out. By the time the hand was over on all tables, two other players had bust on the stone bubble, meaning three players will chop two min-cashes.

The three players who bust on the bubble were Henri Ojala, Sean Cunningham and Gary Kirwan, who each take €1,173.

The rest of the players still in the Main Event have locked up at least a min-cash of €1,760.


Following four starting flights that pulled in record-breaking numbers, the total number of entries to the Main Event totalled 3,233, cruising past last year’s record of 2,491 entries. The prize pool stands at €3,152,175.

Of those who entered, 743 returned to the felt looking to take a slice of that pie.

There will be 479 players paid and the min-cash is worth €1,760. The outright winner is set to walk away with €415,615.

Plenty of PokerStars ambassadors made it through to Day 2. They are:

Fintan Hand- 252,000
Adam McKola- 229,500
Georgina James- 173,500
Alex Romero- 113,500
Benjamin Spragg- 105,000
Sebastian Huber- 85,000
Felix Schneiders- 66,500
Marle Spragg- 52,000
Parker Talbot- 34,000
Julien Brecard- 29,500

Henk Pol of the Netherlands returns as the overall chip leader with 426,500, followed by Irishman Simon Maher in second place with 415,000.

You can follow live updates of Day 2 on PokerNews.

There’s also loads more on the Irish Open schedule today, including two turbo flights for the Mini Irish Open, the €550 JP Masters, the €3,000 High Roller, and the €1,100 PLO Mystery Bounty event.

Here are PokerStars Blog, we’ll be looking to catch up with a couple of ambassadors and, after finding out that we are 100 percent, definitely allowed, trying our hand at the cash games.


With all starting flights now beyond the registration period, the numbers for the Irish Open Main Event have been confirmed.

There have been a total of 3,233 entries, which makes for a prize pool of €3,152,175.


It was two minutes before the break and I’d just finished preparing some questions for Alex O’Brien. I ran down the steps to the tournament floor, then realized I’d written down the wrong table number, ran back up to my laptop, ran back down to the floor, and watched as O’Brien started walking away from her table.

I’m not missing this opportunity, or I’ll be waiting two more hours before I can speak to her, so I make a sprint in her direction and catch her up.

O’Brien told me that she was due to go on the feature table after the break, yet kindly agreed to a quick chat.

How’s it going?

It’s a fuckin grind man, it’s been up and down all day. I’m kind of on starting stack, it’s not my idea of fun!

I do have a really lovely table, actually. Really glad I came. It’s such a great festival.

Have you been before?

No, first one. Yeah, I nearly didn’t come, because you know, getting on a plane, and I have an eight year old. It was a real dilemma because our wedding anniversary is on Monday.

I’ve been focusing a little bit on women in poker today…

Oh, thank you, thanks for doing that.

No, it’s alright, it’s an interesting topic. So, I was just going to ask you about your experiences as a woman in poker in general.

Yeah sure, look it depends on where you’re at. In Ireland it’s always pleasant, it’s really friendly, I think the vibe is always very pleasant. Also, I feel like there’s a lot more female players here in tournaments.

In general, I get underestimated a lot. Because, you know, I’m a girl… I don’t play conventional compared to what men tend to think, just like premium hands and stuff.

Can that work to your advantage?

Yeah, it can. Sometimes they say, “how can you call?” and I’m like, “well the maths says I should call, I can’t help you if you don’t know the maths or the odds.”

But yeah, I’ve been having very good results and feeling comfortable at the tables as well. Like I said, today it’s been a real grind. The structure is still good to spin it up from where I’m at now. It’s gonna be 10-14 big blinds when I come to the feature, so little bit handcuffed.

What do you think the main barriers are for women entering the poker space?

We get this question a lot, as women. It’s a number of things, right. It’s not one answer. It’s a number of things that has to be addressed to make it easier for women to come to the tables.

From giving dealers the authority and the power to reprimand and execute penalties to players who misbehave, who are hostile to women or other players, not just women.

To making events more affordable. Women are mostly the primary caregivers. So their disposable income, set aside the pay gaps, we don’t have as much available as men.

In our household, parenting is split evenly, in fact my husband is doing a lot more actually. But I still have in my mind leaving my kids so I can go play at the tables, with no guarantee that I’m going to come back with any earnings. So you have to have a really supportive network, as well.

The other thing is giving women the opportunity to learn and study the game in a supportive environment. There’s more and more happening in that sphere.

How many minutes have I got by the way, they asked me to be there two minutes before.

You’re on four minutes fifty-five. You just tell me when you want to go…

Yeah, it’s not one answer at all, but making lower entry tournaments, to give women the confidence to play in mixed environments.

I think we’re seeing more and more online, you’ll have noticed it as well, with other male poker players celebrating women’s achievements, but also brands now celebrating women’s achievements. You see lots more women featured when they win or do well, so that’s nice.

You are reinforcing the idea that this is just another player, not a woman trying to play poker. It’s just to be seen as equals and that’s really important.

So, it’s a number of things. The media has to what you guys are doing now. The operators, the players, if everyone makes that little adjustment, then that’ll help.

I mean, 136 players (in the Ladies Championship)…

It’s a great turnout…

Yeah, it’s good, really good.

Do you think that’s a sign of the direction it’s going?

I said we can easily make 200 next year. It’s really about giving women the confidence to come to the table.

Because I’m naturally very confident person, so I’m not easily intimidated, but my friends are not. They would like to play, but they say, “I could never do that.”

Let’s walk and talk… (we start walking towards the feature table stage)

It’s even in the way we raise our children, right. We raise girls to be nice, and play with dolls, and boys climb trees and are encourages to be rough and all of that. So there’s all that as well.

This is a bullish environment, the bluffing, the bullying and all that.

So yeah, it’s a number of things.

(The clock was now ticking with less than a couple of minutes before Main Event play resumed)

Thank you for your time!

No problem, nice to meet you!


Earlier today, the attendance record and prize pool from last year was broken, making the 2024 Irish Open the biggest tournament ever held in Ireland.

Moments ago, another announcement was made from the tournament director’s area known as the Cube. The Main Event prize pool has just topped $3 million! And entries are still pouring in.

Late registration is now closed for Day 1c of the Main Event. It was easily the busiest flight of the event, attracting 1,459 players. The turbo flight, Day 1d, started at 8 p.m. Late registration is set to close at 11.40 p.m, at which point the final numbers will be confirmed.

It was good timing for the announcement. I had just returned from a leisurely lunch with PokerNews reporter and Irish Open player Richard Hayes, who had recently busted out.

The streets were packed out with rugby fans attending the Leinster game. The restaurants were fully booked. We eventually found a place to eat. On the walk back, garda lined the streets and screams and cheers roared out from the nearby stadium.

Back in the poker room, it’s business as usual. There’s a buzz in the air. The place has transcended the mid-afternoon haze and is now alive with poker and craic.

You can follow updates of Day 1c of the Main Event on PokerNews.


Continuing with a bit of a theme for the day, women in poker, I caught up with Lisa Roberts during her break from the Irish Open Main Event.

Roberts is a full time poker player who uses the assumptions of others to her advantage. She discusses her experiences as a woman at the tables, how women’s events compare to open tournaments, and the time some guy whispered creepy stuff in her ear during the break.

Generally, Roberts has had a positive experience in the world of poker and has a lot of love for the other women in the game.

How are you doing?

I’m good, good, love it here.

What do you like about it?

First I love Ireland, I don’t have any idea why but I always wanted to come here and I’ve been twice before. I couldn’t wait to play the Irish Open, just always something was in the way. Now I get to be here so…

Do you travel a lot for poker?

Yes, yes…

Can you give me an overview of yourself as a player? Do you play a lot live or online?

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s illegal there, so there’s a lot of illegal games around. I play a little bit local but otherwise I play online every night. But we love live better.

Is that you and your partner? Is he also a keen player?

My husband, yes. Yeah, he loves poker too. We love to travel and now that he’s retired we can. Some places aren’t exciting, mostly bucket list places (that we go to).

Is poker your full time job?

That’s what I do, yeah. And I have some grandbabies. I love to see them and babysit. So, poker and grandbabies, that’s my job.

So, I’m focusing a bit on women in poker today. What are your experiences in general as a woman at the tables?

You know, I head people say negative things. I love being female at the tables. It’s an advantage, I think. Not everyone is like this but there’s guys that say they’re afraid of me and then there’s ones that try to bully you, because you know I’m just a girl. And I don’t think that’s good either.

It’s good for me. And I’m used to playing with men, so it doesn’t bother me. I know some women can feel intimidated by that. But I’ve had good experiences.

Did you play the Ladies Championship event yesterday?

I did! I hoped to go further and cash. I came in 21st place, so not as good as I would have hoped.

Generally do you prefer women’s events or open events? How do they compare?

I hate to say this, but I think women’s events are a bit softer. Not when you get to the end, then it gets tougher.

I played the Ladies event in Vegas. It was a three day event and the first two days were very soft. By Day 3 it’s starts whittling down to harder tables.

I generally think they are softer, but very friendly. We sit there instead of talking about sports. Like yesterday they were like, “ooo, let me see your nails.”

Do you think that (the social aspect) is part of the appeal for some people?

Probably, because the ladies are super warm and friendly. And guys are friendly too but a lot of times noone’s talking, and that’s fine. It seems that the ladies are very social. And that’s very nice. I made some nice friends yesterday.

I know you said you haven’t really experienced anything negative but…

I shouldn’t say that. I mean, as a female at the table it doesn’t bother me. But this one time, I was on the button and this guy was always in the big blind and I would put in a bet every time.

He didn’t know what to do, I could tell, because you know when someone says, “if you do that one more time…”, they don’t know what to actually do.

Then we went on break and he comes over. He was a big guy, young, and he came over and he whispers in my ear, “I’m gunning for you…”

It’s not nice, it’s creepy. If I was in a parking lot alone I would be scared, but this was in the middle of the Venetian.

So, the second we got back in he happened to be in my big blind, so I did it again because I didn’t want him to think that’s going to work.

What do you think organizers can do to encourage to bring more women into poker and to remove some of those barriers that people might have?

They’re doing so many things encouraging women, there’s a lot of women’s groups now, promoting women in poker. I don’t know what more they can do in general at events. But I know there’s so many people that are organizing and encouraging women, and have sites where they list whoever won in events with women in it.

So, I think that’s nice. It’s nice if whoever’s organizing makes a big deal of women’s events. I’m not sure there’s much more they can do at a normal event.

You’ve only got 2 minutes 30 seconds, so I’m not going to keep you any longer. Thank you!


It’s official. A new record has been set. The Irish Open Main Event has reached a total of 2,492 entries across all starting flights, topping last year with much more time to go before the end of late registration.

In 2023, the Main Event attracted 2,491 entries. That made for a prize pool of 2.5 million. David Docherty won the tournament for 365,000, and went on to top the UKIPT leaderboard after a string of successive results.

This year’s edition now takes the title of the biggest tournament ever held in Irish poker history.

We’ll bring you the full numbers once registration closes for all flights, but those in the know reckon the prize pool could well top $3,000,000.

Last year’s champion David Docherty


Whenever one does an interview, the hope is that the reader engages and the person interviewed is happy with the outcome. I interviewed Ray Masters yesterday and it turns out he was very happy with the outcome.

Famous PokerStars photographer Danny Maxwell bumped into Ray again this morning. Ray expressed his joy with the content that Danny had forwarded him the day before.

More than that, Masters reported that not one, but two of his ex-girlfriends had got in touch after seeing the interview on the Blog.

It was an outcome nobody could predict, but one that Masters will surely be happy with. You’re welcome!

There’s a hazy atmosphere here at the Irish Open today. It’s nearly 4 p.m., yet it feels like 11 in the morning. Boggy eyes clutching cups of tea and stronger drinks in an attempt to wake up from the madness of the night before.

Irish Open host Laura Cornelius tells us she was in the Craic Den until 3 a.m., leaving when she sensed the vibe becoming more “animalistic”. There’s a lesson there for anyone young enough to still attend house parties into the early hours – go home before it’s too late.

The Main Event is rammed, with over 1,200 entries made at the time of writing and many more expected during late registration and Day 1d. The prize pool stands at over €2.6 million, the €1 million guarantee already well and truly crushed. Last year’s record is soon to be broken.


Rebecca McAdam Willets came up to the media area and was accosted by several friends before making it over to the little area I’d prepared for the interview.

“I’m really tired today,” she said, “I think it’s just being in the room with so many people…”

“Are you a bit of an introvert at heart,” I asked her? “Hmm, maybe… I think I’m just pregnant.”

How far pregnant are you?

Erm… 26 weeks.

Girl or boy, do you know?

Well, I do know but we’ve only told my mum because she looks after my dad here in Dublin, so she can’t come to see us. So, we’ve given her a little insider’s scoop.

So, you’re not going to tell a random interviewer who you’ve only just met?

No, I’m not, no. I haven’t actually told wider social either (laughs).

Can you tell me a little about your journey in poker, especially with regards to being an ambassador for women’s poker?

It’s lovely to even hear someone say I’m an ambassador for women’s poker. It’s an honour, there’s so many great women in poker.

I started playing when I was about fourteen, fifteen… home games obviously. And then started playing in Dublin, as soon as I turned 18. And yeah loved it, wanted to be a journalist and eventually started working for Poker and Sports magazine. I was the European deputy editor.

So I travelled everywhere, reporting and writing stories, making friends and living the crazy circus touring poker life. Eventually started consulting with different brands and their communications strategies and promotions.

Paddy Power and the production team came to me in the mid-2000s and asked me would I present, do commentary and produce some content. They were bringing in women who were presenters, but they didn’t know anything about poker. And I think I was probably the only woman in Ireland who was reporting on poker and presenting content.

So, I started doing all the commentary here when it was Paddy Power only, and was just part of the scene.

I was working for Stars for eleven years, looking after public relations, partnerships and all the women’s initiatives.

Starting back in the 2000s and being the only young woman in the room most of the time was never a problem to me because it’s so interesting psychologically, what people assume of you when you sit down at the tables.

But I wanted to encourage more women, because I had such a good time and met many nice people, but there is a huge barrier there, it is terrifying, you will have bad experiences, and if you leave after your first bad experience, you’re probably not coming back.

So, it was very close to my heart to make sure I encouraged more women into working in gaming and playing poker in general. It teaches you so much about yourself, about how to hold yourself in business, which often is also a male-dominated space.

Can you go into a bit more detail about what those barriers are and what those feelings are of discomfort that people could experience?

Yeah, It’s the feeling that you’re the odd thing out… what’s wrong with this picture kind of thing when you enter a room. It’s so much better now. At big major events you don’t really feel it. There’s way more women than there was when I first started playing.

But it often would be thought that you’re there because your boyfriend or your partner was there, or that you don’t know what you’re doing, or that you’re never going to bluff, or you’re not going to be aggressive and you can be pushed around.

But you can take advantage of that. I’m actually okay if someone makes an assumption about me because you just play on that.

I think also for women, time and money are big barriers. You know, we often have a lot on our plates, so to make the time to play like a very long running tournament or spend a lot of our money buying into a poker tournament, for me I wanted to make sure there were opportunities for people to find their way in to bigger tournaments.

In the research we’ve done, a lot of the feedback has been time, especially with kids, they can’t go away to an event or they can’t go away for very long.

So, I think the barriers at the table with how you’re treated have gotten better, but they’re not totally gone, they’re definitely not gone. But I think there’s other barriers there, just kind of socio-economic.

The Ladies Championship was quite a bustling event, wasn’t it? Do you think this represents the direction that it’s going in? What do you think the potential is for growth going forward?

Do you know, it’s funny because not a lot of women like to play women only tournaments. We like playing with all different types of people. And there’s always been the age-old argument of “why are there women’s only tournaments?”

But you find that there a lot of women are comfortable there, they find a good community they can speak to. I think community is really important, to talk about hands afterwards. Even finding your way to registration or understanding how things work.

It’s easier because so many men know each other but as a new woman into the game it’s quite an intimidating experience, so just being able to get women all the way to the tables is such a feat in itself.

To see over 130 players taking part is a really positive sight, because you’ll also have women who don’t play women’s events, so… there’s more of us!

I like playing women’s events, because there’s a lot of women I adore in poker and I get to see them. But it can be hard too because the level is so good. You’re putting yourself in this smaller event full of really good players, when you could be playing a bigger event full of mixed levels.

Loads of shit men?

(Laughs) Loads of men who are making assumptions about you. So, I might play for camaraderie, community and actually to up my game because the competition is so strong. But I’ll mix them in with the open events because there’s a lot more value on the table…

It’s funny because if you talked to people like ten years ago they would be like, “oh women’s events, there’s loads of value.” And men want to play women’s events because they think it’s easy money but it’s not, it’s incredibly tough.

The last few months I’ve been like, why am I playing these events, why am I doing this to myself?

What have you got in the pipeline?

I’m working as a consultant right now in what I did previously, which is around public relations and communications partnerships, but I’m in the middle of launching my own business as an agency within the gaming space.

But I think part of it is continuing to champion women’s initiatives and make sure we push for a more inclusive and comfortable space in live events, for everyone, but also highlighting women in very male dominated areas such as poker.

There’s a lot of really cool organizations that support women, but they’re all kind of working separately to each other, so I’ve been working with them to bring it all together to make it make a bit more sense and have a bit more strategy around it.

Were you involved in the Women’s Bootcamp at the EPT Cyprus?

That was my baby! That went really good. I’ve always wanted to do women’s bootcamps. You have to get the balance right of being able to reach enough people, so that a lot of women can take part, but having the quality and the one-on-one time, not making it too big. The first year, it was such a success we knew we wanted to do it again.

Some of the women had never played a live event or had never left the country, so to see the camaraderie and see them talking to each other and asking questions, and talking to ambassadors like Jennifer Shahade and really good representatives of women in poker like Alex O’Brien, was great. Just seeing women coming together way more than I have in the past.

I think in the past I’ve seen more competition between women because there were so few of us, where as now we feel a little more like we’ve come together as a unit to try to grow it together.

So, Cyprus was amazing to see the women go on that journey together. Even then they were working together, so they chopped the prize so we can all go together again. You just don’t see this stuff happen.

That’s brilliant, so is there going to be more of those?

Well, I’m no longer with Stars so I don’t know. In my world, if I have my way, I’m going to make sure there’s more of them.

What’s your plan for the rest of the week?

I’m really here just to see family and be here for Easter. For millions of years, I’ve worked the Irish Open and couldn’t be with my family, so my plan, I think next year I will play the Main Event, but today I came more to see everybody to be honest.


On the schedule today is Day 1c of the Main Event, starting at noon local time. The turbo flight, Day 1d will run later on at 8 p.m., giving players a final opportunity to bag a stack for Day 2.

Glen Keogh of Ireland topped Day 1b with 393,000 chips and is now the overall chip leader.

By the end of Day 1b, the field had reached 1,212 entries. The guarantee has already been well surpassed, the prize pool standing at €1,395,225 with two more flights to go.

The live stream also gets underway today as legendary commentators James Hartigan and Joe Stapes will follow the Day 1c action. You can find that stream on the PokerStars Twitch and PS YouTube.

There’s not much else on the schedule today, at least not in terms of poker, with the action focused now on the Main Event. Several satellites will also be running to give more players entry to the event at a lower cost.

Yesterday, Toivo Rinne of Finland won the €350 PLO 6-max event for €15,012, Anthony Young of Ireland won the €550 Mystery Bounty for €20,648, and Octavia Miruna Muller won the €250 Ladies Championship Event for €6,132 after a deal was struck three-handed.

The Ladies Championship was bustling, with 136 entries to the event. PokerStars Blog were able to catch up with Rebecca McAdam Willets, an inspiration to many players. We’ll present that interview very shortly as a kind of discussion and of women in poker.


I went to the Craic Den to meet Parker “tonkaaaa” Talbot. He was sat on the sofa, chatting to a friend. Adam McKola came over, fresh off his live stream, and sprawled out, putting his arm around Talbot and slumping onto the coach, carefully cradling a drink in one hand without spilling a drop.

We moved outside and then over into a quieter corner of the yard. And then, it was into interview mode, Parker’s demeanour now a touch more professional, matching my own.

Parker Talbot. Congratulations on your win last night.

Thank you very kindly.

Can you tell me a bit about how the tournament went?

I mean honestly, it was just kind of like a pretty straight shot. I kind of like chilled through the whole tournament. I was really short for ages of it.

I played a bullet on Day 1, max late regged a bullet on Day 2, chilled for ages, then spun up to like 50-60 bigs, chilled for ages, then I was just insanely short for the entire final table.

It got three-handed and I had 220k out of 5.5 million in play. Somehow, I managed to just spin it up from there. But yeah, it was a smooth run, couple of good hands, my all-ins held up, you know. I lost a couple of all-ins at the end, but for the most part just won the all-ins.

That’s all you’ve really got to do to win a poker tournament.

And yeah, you won your first one last night?

First live poker tournament, 15 years in the making and we are here!

How does it feel to get that donkey off your back?

Yeah, pretty fucking good man, really does feel quite nice. Obviously, there’s this little TonkaTracker account on Twitter that someone’s made, making fun of me.

Who made that?

I know who made that. He’s a bastard he is. But no, it’s been a big meme. We shot some vlog content around it recently, you know, the pursuit of a trophy.

I got really close in Paris, second place in the 2k High Roller, it was an insane score. And that felt like a monkey off my back already to come in the top three in a big tournament. But then this is the true monkey off my back.

This is a big milestone for me, for sure.

I was going to ask you about the FPS. You spoke to Jack from PokerStars Blog after that win and you actually said that it’s nice, it’s your biggest cash, but what you’re looking for is that winner’s photo. And now it’s happened… So, how do those two results compare?

It (the FPS) was a top three finish after loads of close calls and nothing really panning out, at least in the live realm. But yeah, the trophy is insane. It felt so nice to be in that chair with the trophy.

Generally, it’s funny, I’ve played poker for so long and there’s so few achievements and goals. I guess I feel like the next achievement or goal would be to play some high rollers, but I’m not really interested in that.

I really just wanted to win a poker tournament. It’s a true milestone for me. It’s a check on my list.

This just popped into my head so I’ll throw it out there. As humans, we like to strive for goals. So, I guess you’ve not had time to reflect yet and you’re just enjoying the win, but…

I’m not a goals man, I’m not a goals man at all. For better or worse, I think I’ve always really with the idea that if you don’t set goals, it’s a whole lot harder to fail. So, my idea’s always just been to try my best, play a lot of cards, put a lot of volume in and try to come out on top, and just see what happens.

I always hated this idea of, “I’m going to make X amount of money this year”, or setting new year’s resolutions for unattainable goals, or for goals that involve a lot of variance.

For me, my goal is just to kind of show up. And hopefully, eventually, something will happen. And it kind of did!

Nice one. You’ve been playing a long time now. Do you still dedicate a lot of time to learning?

Yeah, so at the beginning I never studied. I was just always of the school of though that I will play more poker than you and I’ll just figure it out more than you. And for a long time, I didn’t study or put a lot of work into my game.

I coasted off the pre-solver days and the pre-study days, and having a brain that works for poker, I would say.

But these days, you have to study to be competitive. Even at mid-stakes level, you have to treat it like a grind. You have to commit hours off the table to study, talking hands with friends at an absolute pure minimum.

These days, I would say I study quite a reasonable amount.

I suppose it helps having friends like Conor Beresford and those guys?

Yeah for sure, Beresford is one of my oldest poker friends. One of the people, probably the person, definitely the person, I have talked the most poker with.

But yeah, that’s exactly it. Having a guy like that in your corner, a couple of other guys. It doesn’t have to be high stakes guys. I had lots of times in my poker career where the low stakes guys taught my something very incredible and smart.

It doesn’t have to be the world’s most elite crushers. As long as it’s a like-minded group with the same kind of ideas and energy, who bring something to the table, you can make any group work out.

How long have you been a PokerStars ambassador and has that changed your trajectory at all?

It’s really, really nice to work with friends. So in the past I’ve had sponsorships and there were a lot of good people at the company for sure, but no close friends of mine.

Whereas I come over to PokerStars a few years ago and Fintan and Spraggy, Lex all work there. I’ve been insanely long time friends with Fintan and even more so with Spraggy, so it was just really nice to be able to work with friends.

I love everybody I work with.

What are your plans for streaming?

Plans for streaming, I’m going to be streaming all series, so we’ve got SCOOP coming up, I’m going to be playing that after Monte Carlo. I’m just going to primarily designate streaming around series’. At off-peak times, I’m going to do a couple of streams a week, mostly Sundays.

And around series, I’m going to stream a lot more and get in the mix, try to reel off some nice final tables. I’m coming off a nice WCOOP last time, a win in a $10k for just over $200k, so that’s quite nice. Hopefully we follow it up with another one.

In the past, you’ve said that streaming has motivated you as a player. Is that still the case, or have you found a motivation outside of that now?

I would say streaming kind of saved my poker career to an extent, because I was kind of over poker, not playing as much after four or five years, just stumbled into streaming and yeah, streamed for six or seven years incredibly consistently.

Obviously, I took a couple of years off, came back, signed with Stars and have been grinding since then. Still enjoying it, still doing my thing. Really enjoying the live circuit and going to EPTs.

Irish Open is probably my favourite stop, or second favourite stop of the year. There’s Barcelona and Prague, Prague is always my number one. But honestly, I would say Irish Open is probably second to Prague.

For people who have not been here before, what makes the Irish Open a good event?

For me, playing live poker, it’s kind of all about the environment, all about the vibes. Everybody playing and having a good time, shooting the shit, nobody being too serious.

That’s also why I like to play “lower” stakes tournaments. For me, $5k and under is so much more fun than high stakes tournaments. Once you delve into the high stakes realm, it’s a lot more serious. And for good reason. There’s more money, it’s a more serious game, people are a lot more elite. You have to be in that kind of mode

But in the lower stakes, and by lower stakes I don’t mean lower stakes, I mean anything like $1k, $2k, $500, $250. Like, I love playing $250 tournaments here, even though it’s smaller than what I would normally play, because it’s just a good atmosphere.

At the Irish Open everybody’s having a good time. It’s just a good place to play cards. There’s so many less headphone warriors just sweating everybody down at the table. It’s just a good time.

What are your plans for the rest of the week?

Yeah, so tonight we’ve got a little darts competition. Tomorrow I have the €1k. I’m going to max-late reg the Mystery Bounty at midnight tonight after we’ve played darts in here and I’ve scooped another event in the Ireland versus England.

How’s that going?

Yeah quite good, I’m two for two in my events so far, sumo wrestling and donkey racing. Kind of won the donkey race on a technicality but the sumo quite convincingly.

I saw the footage. You found your calling there…

Yeah, we got him, we got him!

But yeah, the plan is to play a bunch more tournaments, play the Main Event, bag a big stack in the Main, maybe win the €550 tonight, €3k later, and have a great time.

So, what’s Parker’s life like on a day-to-day basis? Are you in a mansion?

No, I’m actually living out in Eastern Canada now with the family. My dad and my two brothers, my brother’s girlfriend. We’ve got a nice big 20-acre plot of land in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a nice mix up to the city living that I’m used to.

I moved out of Ontario after Ontario was regulated by the government. I travelled around a little bit before that. But yeah, loving life at home with the family. It’s like a real change of pace in life. I’m thoroughly enjoying it.


On my latest stroll out onto the tournament floor, I bumped into Conor Beresford and whipped out my voice recorded to ask him a couple of on-the-fly questions.

Hiya mate. Can you describe Parker Talbot in a few words?

“He’s just a great dude, isn’t he? A great dude, a great player…”

Did you watch his win last night?

I went to bed about 9 p.m. because I busted out in 12th place. I woke up at like 1am to people saying, “you’ve got to come down, it’s three handed.” By the time I got there it was heads-up.

Exciting times…

Before I could ask him where his buddy was, Beresford jumped into his seat as his hand was dealt. I didn’t want to disturb the action, so shouted over my thanks and then continued on my mission.

I was keen to track down Rebecca McAdam Willetts, a driving force in women’s poker, who was playing the Ladies Championship.

As I looked over at the table numbers, it was obvious I was in the right place. McAdam Willetts was talking to another player, who was singing her praises. “You’re such an inspiration in women’s poker.”

Yup, I’ve found her. I asked for an interview and McAdam Willetts agreed and said she would meet me up at the media area (that interview will be published in good time).

While I was waiting, I mooched outside for a bit of fresh air, taking a brief detour into the Craic Den to see Pitchside and The Fellas in the midst of a fierce quiz battle, streamed from a very professional looking setup. It was great to see Adam McKola and the other lads in their element.

I went outside and lit up. And there he was. Right when I least expected it. The elusive man himself, emanating an almost ethereal light. It was Tonka, walking across the grass, heading for the entrance of the Irish Open.

I took off in a flash, almost knocking out a waitress who was walking across the courtyard, to grab Tonka by the arm.

I congratulated him on his win and asked him for an interview.

“What, now?”

“Hmm, give me a bit of time to prepare and I’ll get back to you.”

“No problem,” he said. “I’m not playing today. We’ve got the England Vs Ireland stuff at 10:15pm, so I’m free until then.”

And just like that, I’d done it. I’d tracked down Tonka. Now, all that’s left is to chat to him about the victory. Standby…


Ray Masters is a regular on the Irish circuit and so are his sons and daughters. They are a family of poker players with connections to Irish Poker Tour.

Ray qualified for the Irish Open Main Event via a one euro satellite and won another entry at a Grosvenor satellite. He takes us through decades of Irish poker history in this exclusive interview.

You’re a bit of regular here in Ireland, aren’t you?

Not as often as I’d like to be, but I’m fairly regular yeah.

What’s your connection to the Irish Poker Tour? I see the badge here…

I’ve got three badges on (laughs)

Do you want to walk us through each of them?

Well, it’s actually my daughter who does most of the things for Irish Poker Tour and she asked me to wear these, so I’ve worn them for Fintan Gavin (IPT boss).

This one is for Grosvenor who I qualified with to play today’s event.

It’s a great event, it’s very hard to miss it. The action, as you can see, and the amount of people here. The craic is something else.

So, how did you qualify?

I qualified online with Grosevenor. I’ve also qualified for another ticket with Paddy Power on the one euro Cheltenham special, so it cost me one euro. Great value!

Are you on your first bullet?

I’m on my first bullet, yeah. Keeping one is reserve, so we’ll see what happens.

How’s the day gone so far?

It’s not too bad. I’m up to about 65,000, so above average. We’ll see how it runs out.

I see your son’s in the main, your daughter’s in the ladies. Any more?

Graham usually plays aswell, I’m not sure whether he’s going to play tomorrow. He’s not playing today anyway. He played in the Mini last night and cashed and my daughter also cashed… but I bust.

So, is this something you’ve always done together?

Well it is, yeah. David got second in the Irish Open in 2019, just before Covid. He was second and got a nice payday.

Nice, are you sort of the head of the poker family? Did you teach them?

Nah, no they learned themselves. David got into it first. He came with me to a couple of tournaments that we played. Then he started playing online a lot. He played a lot on Ultimate Bet and he now plays on PokerStars. Not a huge amount because he’s a family man now, he’s got two daughters.

So, hopefully between you a cash is coming…

Well, let’s hope so. It would be nice to cash. I haven’t actually cashed in the Irish Open for a long time.

I’ve been playing since I was 30 years old. I used to play in Terry Rogers’ club. He instigated Hold ‘em in this country. He brought it over from Vegas and introduced it here many, many years ago. That was the initial starting of Hold ‘em here in Ireland.

Was it all underground at the time?

No, not really. It was all out in the open. There were no rules or laws against playing. It wasn’t a casino as such. Having a casino was underground, it was against the law. Now, it’s different. But then, it was just a card game, no other gambling games.

How would you say the Irish poker scene has changed over that time?

Oh, it’s changed a lot. It’s changed tremendously. The way people play has changed. The nuts are the nuts at the end of the day, but it’s the people’s mode of play that’s changed quite a lot.

It’s a different game now to what is was even 10-15 years ago. It’s more aggressive now. There’s a lot of good up and coming players who regularly show results and it’s usually the same people.

What about the way events are run?

Oh, at the moment this is the best period for poker in Ireland. This is tremendous. All you have to do is look around. There’s poker games every week, every day nearly.

Covid caused a lot of that because people came out of it and thought, we’ve got to live our lives now and play poker. Because people were holed up for a year, couple of years. Why the hell should we stay inside now, we want to get out, we want to play, we want to have enjoyment, have a bit of craic.

That’s what it’s all about.

What’s your plan for the rest of the week?

Plug away at the Main, I might try the Mini again tomorrow night, depending how I do tonight. If I have to shoot my second bullet tomorrow I’ll shoot that.

Alright thanks mate, I’ll leave you to your break now. Good luck…

Thank you very much, cheers!


There’s still no sign up Tonka. No Spraggy. No Fintan. No Conor Beresford. I’ve seen Marle heading over to the Ladies event, but none of the lads that I’m looking for right now are here; the ones railing the High Roller last night who can give me an insight into Tonka as a man, a player, and a live event winner.

I’ve got a pretty good view up here from the balcony and these guys are not that easy to miss. Spraggy, for example, is often trailed by a team of videographers recording his every move. Half of the media team are looking for Tonka today. If he does show up, he’ll be greeted by a mob of vultures with cameras and notepads, myself included.

I wander through the corridors, half to continue my search and also with the more selflish motive of having a smoke. A couple of musicians are playing guitars, so I do a little twirl for Sommer from the TV production team.

Still no sign of Tonka… He’s not outside. The food vans have changed though. Burgers and chicken fillets on the menu today.

Elsewhere, the Ladies Championship has begun and it is booming! There are 110 ladies sat down so far, among them Marle, GJ Reggie, and Rebecca Mcadam, who has been a huge influence in the world of women’s poker. We’ll aim to chat to her at some point in the day, as well as keeping you up-to-date with the tournament as it progresses.

Over in the Main Event, the €1M guarantee has already been surpassed and we’re less than half way through the starting flights. Expect prize pools to top €2M by the time the event reaches Day 2.


This morning, famous PokerStars photographer Danny Maxwell got chatting to a player on his way over to the venue. That player was Norman Messier, a Canadian who usually plays over in the USA. He won his ticket to the Irish Open via a live satellite at Playground and is now sitting in Day 1b of the Main Event.

I caught up with Messier on the break.

The interview followed much of the same lines as any other interview, but the most interesting sides of Messier came through when I asked him about life outside of poker.

Messier is a man from humble beginnings. At 70 years old, after a lot of hard work, he’s now living his dreams of adventure and travel.

For the young Messier, the idea of getting on a plane seemed far out. Now, he’s over here, having fun and enjoying the friendly people that he is spending his time with.

Chess has had a huge influence on Messier’s life. Winning a chess championship at a young age gave him the confidence to know that he is capable of doing anything.

Here’s how the chat went down:

How’s the Main Event going for you?

Good, I’ve got about 40,000 chips now. I’ve got a good table.

Can you tell me a bit about how you qualified?

Well, at the Playground they had a satellite and I won a seat in the satellite.

How much was the satellite?

I believe it was $650 Canadian dollars. That got me a seat in the tournament, my aeroplane ticket, money for my hotel room and food money. So, very nice…

Is this your first time at the Irish Open?

Yes. It’s fantastic. It’s a really fun place to play. I’m enjoying it and the people are very nice. The hotel is very nice and the people are very polite.

This is a more friendly game compared to say the ones in Canada.

Do you play a lot?

Yup. At my age, I’m over 70 and I really like playing live. I don’t play cash, very seldom.

Do you play online?

No, I like the people and the interactions with the people, and the challenge too.

So, you like the social aspect aswell?

Yes… yes.

Can you tell me about your life outside poker?

Well, I grew up a farm boy in the countryside, we didn’t have much. And when I was a young kid I always dreamt about doing stuff. I dreamed about scuba diving, dreamed about flying on an aeroplane – that was a big thing for me.

When I grew up I was working, and now everything I dreamed about I did. I dreamed about riding a motorcycle around the country and I did, I rode a motorcycle all around Canada and all around the United States.

So, I grew up with not much and worked hard doing construction work, which made it possible. Now I can live my dream out.

So, are you retired now?

Semi-retired. I’ve got a construction business with my son. I work on a job with him still sometimes and I’m licensed to drive big trucks for him. I basically work around three days a week. So I have really a good life right now.

And I like playing cards. I’ve played enough that I’m about breaking even on the money. I don’t make money at it, I don’t lose much at it.

I really enjoy the people and at my age is tough to do anything competitive. And I found poker.

What are your plans over this week?

If I don’t make it today I will buy-in for tomorrow. Or I might play the satellite tonight to gain entry tomorrow. If I get bumped out tomorrow, I’ll probably play another game or two tomorrow of some kind. And then fly back Monday or Tuesday.

I won two satellite seats in a $1,700 event. It’s a three-day tournament and I’ve got two seats into it so far. So if I don’t do good here, I might do good there. I seem to do quite well in the satellites. My style seems to suit satellites quite nicely.

So, what’s your biggest score?

Well, I’ve won a couple of $10,000 seats, and I’ve won quite a few $6,000, $8,000 scores in different games. I seem to get knocked out before I get to the big, big money.

I know I have a reasonably good chance of cashing. I have a good time playing, it’s challenging. The only thing that bothers me is rude or arrogant persons telling me, “oh, you should do this or do that.” I find that very rude.

Everyone plays different cards.

Do you ever play chess?

I like chess, yes.

Chess made me successful. In seventh grade, my brother won the chess championship. Someone said, “he must have cheated.” And the next year, I won it.

So we felt confident in life then, that we could do something. That gave me the confidence in life to be successful. That game made a real difference in my life.

I never gave up. And when I worked with my dad that’s what we did, we never gave up.

So yeah, I’m just going to enjoy the game. And now I’m going to go and enjoy the game…


Day 1b of the Irish Open Main Event is running today from midday, with a single re-entry per flight. PokerNews will be bringing you live coverage throughout the tournament, so check in there for updates.

Pascal Baumgartner topped Day 1a with 329,500 chips and will be the man to beat for players who enter today’s flight. Fintan Hand (252,000) and Adam McKola (229,500) both made it through with decent stacks.

Elsewhere, there’s the €250 Ladies Championship Event running from 2 p.m., further flights in the Mini Irish Open Championship, and a €550 Mystery Bounty starting at 8 p.m. local time, as well as plenty of satellites and ominpresent cash games.

As is the usual pace here at the Irish Open, I’m expecting a slow start this morning, with players crawling into the tournament area in their own time. I’ll be looking to catch up with Parker Talbot, and maybe grab a chat with Adam McKola, who has made Day 2 of the Main Event.


Parker “tonkaaaa” Talbot has done it. He’s won a tournament. A first place finish. An Irish Open trophy. And the top prize of €134,279.

Almost unbelievably, the Canadian streamer and PokerStars ambassador has never before locked up first place in a live tournament.

PokerStars Blog interviewed Parker at the 2024 EPT Paris after he picked up a career best score of €334,180 for his second place finish in the FPS High Roller. He was thrilled, but was still chasing his winner’s photo.

“A live win and a trophy would mean a lot at this point. I’ve streamed for a long time, I’m a PokerStars Pro now, and I think there would be a lot more meaning to it now. I want a winner’s photo, you know?”, said Talbot.

You can read the full interview here.

In the early hours of the morning, Parker finally got his winner’s photo after taking down the €5,000 High Roller in front of a lively rail of friends and fans.

Talbot came to the final table as one of the short stacks, but successfully laddered up as other short stacks and even bigger stacks busted before him. By the time action went three-handed, he was severely short.

But to his delight, Fergal O’Cathan moved all-in with pocket jacks against Padraig O’Neill’s ace-king. O’Cathan’s jacks held and O’Neill was eliminated in third place for €61,885. O’Cathan took a huge chip lead by winning that pot, but Parker was not deterred.

This wasn’t the first time O’Cathan and Talbot had met at the tables. On Tuesday evening, following a heater in the cash games, O’Cathan decided to buy-in for a satellite to the High Roller, where he busted Parker. The pair joked that they would see each other on the final table. And here they were.

Parker pulled back the lead when he doubled up with deuces against O’Cathan’s pocket sixes. Over the next couple of hours, he chipped away at his opponent, eyeing the trophy that was now sat between them on the table.

In the final hand, the board was Ac-4c-7s. Parker check-raised to 450,000 and O’Cathan moved all in, which Parker called. O’Cathan had a pair of sevens with some backdoor outs, while Parker had two pair with aces and fours. The turn brought another ace, completing his full house and sealing the pot and the tournament.

Parker proudly kissed the trophy and lifted it to his face with a grin.

We’ll be looking to chat with Parker Talbot, although I suspect, given how late the tournament ran and the fact that celebrations were in order, he’ll be having a lie in. Stay tuned and we’ll hopefully catch up with him later today.

5,000 High Roller Final Table Results

1Parker Talbot – Canada – €134,279
2 – Fergal O’Cathan – Ireland – €86,635
3 – Padraig O’Neill – Ireland – €61,885
4 – Roope Tarmi – Finland – €47,605
5 – Ian Drake – Ireland – €36,615
6 – Bert Stevens – France – €28,165
7 – Jamie Dwan – UK – €22,530
8 – Narcis Cristian Olaru – Spain – €18,025


The €350 Irish Open Heads-Up Championship Event concluded earlier in the day with Alex Romero crowned the winner. Four players out of the capped 64-strong field returned for the quarter finals, including Romero’s opponent in the final, reigning Main Event champion David Docherty.

Alex Romero’s opponent in the quarter finals was Alexandru Ersen. The match was over within less than half an hour, after which Romero sat down to watch the rest of David Docherty’s match against Jannik Bengtsen.

Almost an hour later, Docherty prevailed. He and Romero sat down for the final, an affair that was once again over in a matter of minutes.

I got the chance to chat with Romero during his break in the Mini Irish Open.

Alex Romero, congratulations…

Thank you!

You were up against David Docherty in the final. How did that go?

The final was really quick, it was like 20-minutes.

I made three-barrels with a set and he called me down with second pair. I got half of his stack, and the other half he shoved ace-deuce and I had ace-ten.

So, there wasn’t any sort of battle really?

No, no. Today, the semi-final and final were really quick. Yesterday, I had two really tough rounds, but I won, for sure!

Nice! Do you play a lot of live poker?

Not much. Last year, I played a lot because I was with Winamax and I played all year. But not a lot, just Main Events. Maybe I’ve played like 30 tournaments in my life, not a lot…

You had a final table result in the Monte Carlo Main Event in 2019. Aside from that, how does this win stack up against your other results?

I think this is the second best… No, it’s not the second best, because I also cashed the EPT Main Event in London, but it was just a min-cash. It was more money because the buy-in was higher.

But this one is a win. It’s not about the money, but about the trophy! It’s better for me to win this tournament than do a min-cash in the EPT, for example.

When did you become a PokerStars ambassador?

I started last May, so it’s close to a year now. I’m a Spanish commentator. I commentate on the stream for EPT and other events, and I’m really happy with that because I really like it.

Would you say that playing poker is secondary to the commentary then, or how do you see that?

No… it’s 50-50. I feel that I am a poker player, because I’ve prepared for that. I play a lot, I’m in a school, too.

I am a poker player but I really like to commentate, so I feel like I am 50-50.

Are you playing any more of the Irish Open?

Yes, I am going to play everyday. Today, I am playing the Mini Main. Tomorrow, I will play the Main Event. I am here to play!

On Monday, we will commentate the final table, although I hope I will be on it. I’m going to try!

Do you still play quite a lot online aswell?

Yes, I am more of an online player than a live player but I’m really enjoying playing live because it’s like holidays.

Especially here…

Yeah, especially here for sure.

I think when I play online, it’s like I’m working. But here I am enjoying! It’s different…

Congratulations to Alex Romero for his first place finish in the €350 Irish Open Heads-Up Championship, good for €5,925.


At 7 p.m. on Day 2 of the High Roller, there were 16 players remaining in the €5k High Roller, with 15 set to get paid.

I wandered over to have a little look. Parker “tonkaaaap” Talbot was pouring himself a refreshing looking drink, taking a sip and letting out a sigh moments after winning a huge pot with a set of sixes.

Over on the other table, Leo Worthington-Leese was all in with a short stack preflop against local legend Padraig O’Neill.

Worthington-Leese showed pocket eights and Padraig O’Neill turned over ace-jack for a flip. The board ran out to give O’Neill two pair with his aces and jacks.

Worthington-Leese lost the pot and was eliminated on the stone bubble. The rest of the players will take at least the minimum of €8,700 and the winner is set to walk away with €134,279.

We’ll update you on the winner of the High Roller either later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Stay tuned, because soon we’ll be having a chat with Alex Romero, PokerStars Live Spain commentator and winner of the €350 Heads-Up Championship event.


Guess what?

What?”, I hear you say…

PokerStars are giving away a bunch of tickets to the inaugural UKIPT Malaga event, running from June 10 – 16th.

Ten tickets in total were up for grabs. Three of those have already been taken, meaning seven more are still out there.

One of them could be yours. All you have to do is play the Irish Open and get lucky, be really good at shuffleboard, or sing your heart out at karaoke.

One €1,100 UKIPT Malaga Main Event ticket will be given away every day during the first break of play at the Irish Open.

A single table will be selected at random and all players on that table will be asked to stay behind for a couple of minutes for one hand of a crazy-pineapple all-in shootout. The winner of the shootout will be given a ticket.

Two players have already won that race. They are Neacsu Tudor Catalin, a recreational player from Romania, and Koen Roelofsen of the Netherlands.

Four more UKIPT Main Event tickets are up for grabs via the shootout route.

Another ticket has already been (deservedly) snatched up by Niall Farrell, who was gifted his entry for topping the Irish Open unofficial leaderboard.

The other three tickets are going to be given away along with a solid dose of the craic. One to the winner of an upcoming Shuffleboard tournament and another to the karaoke king or queen who proves to be the most entertaining on Saturday evening.

That leaves one more ticket, which we’ve heard will be something to do with either the football streamers known as The Fellas or given away during the Team England vs Team Ireland shenanigans.

We’ll keep you updated on that and on UKIPT ticket winners along the way.

Win UKIPT Malaga tickets at the Irish Open


On Monday 25th March, on the opening day of the Irish Open, legendary poker commentator Joe Stapleton made the final table of the €350 6-max event, finishing in fourth place for €7,980, his biggest live score in terms of field size and ROI, and his first cash as an official PokerStars ambassador.

PokerStars Blog caught up with Stapes to find out more about the win and his approach to poker.

So, you had a pretty decent win the other day?

I did, yes, something I’m not really used to. I mean, I’m not really used to playing poker in general, I don’t play that much, but yeah…

I want to say it was a dream run but it really wasn’t, because all I did was have ten big blinds and not lose. I didn’t win either, I just didn’t lose.

Did you feel capable at the tables?

It was a tough field but I didn’t really tangle with any of the really tough players because of it was a turbo and the way the cookie crumbled. I was definitely at the back end with some competent players, but there was noone who had a tremendous reputation or that was particularly intimidating.

It’s hard to be intimidated when you have a ten big blind stack. It’s not like I could really make any mistakes apart from ICM mistakes, and I think I played ICM perfectly. At the end I probably had eight big blinds when we got seven handed and I managed to finish fourth.

All ICM is in that spot is “DON’T PLAY!”. And I did that perfectly.

Was the six-max final table one of your biggest results?

Yes, absolutely. It’s not my biggest result money wise, but it is my biggest result in terms of a multiplier of my buy-in.

I have a slightly bigger score than that ($10,555 in a US tournament back in 2019), but it was because I was playing a $5k, so I just got 2.5x my money.

Whereas in this (the Irish Open 6-max) it was a couple of hundred times my buy-in. Definitely my biggest result in terms of field size and multiplier of buy-in… ROI, as they say.

Is this something you’re going to be doing more? What’s the deal, are PokerStars entering you into more tournaments?

We decided that this year both James and myself will be full on PokerStars ambassadors, which is going to include playing more poker.

I doubt you’ll see me in the EPT Main or the Irish Open Main, but as far as prelims, UKIPTs, maybe if they start doing some more smaller events in the states, you’ll probably be seeing us at the tables more often.

Joe Stapleton with PokerStars CEO Kevin Harrington

Do you put in any time to learning?

No, definitely not.

That would be like me putting in time to learn sex. Like yeah, it would probably make my life better if I got better at it, it would probably be better for everybody involved if I put in a little effort, but who wants to take out a book and learn how to do that, when you can do it badly and still have fun.

Are you playing any more during the Irish Open?

I don’t think so, I think the broadcast starts on Friday. I don’t know if there’s anything short enough that I can play.

As people will realize that I didn’t quite realize, poker is really full on. When I was sitting at the poker table that day it was for 12 hours and you can’t really do anything else. You can check your phone a bit, but your brain is not capable of multitasking that much.

Given that I have other responsibilities to projects, to broadcasts, to podcasts, and various over things I’m working on right now, comedy stuff, scheduling things for the summer, I just don’t have the brain power or the time to play anything else between now and when the broadcast starts on Friday.

A little sleep would be nice…

So, you don’t really put any time into learning but you have watched thousand of hours of poker, often with hole cards face-up. How much do you think that helps?

I think that I would have to be real thick for none of that to have gone it at any point. Not just watching the best players in the world, but also having done commentary alongside and having talked poker with some of the best poker minds going today.

Sam Grafton is a guy that’s been in the booth with us, we don’t get him all the time, but when we do man does he drop a lot of knowledge. Fintan and Spraggy, as much as people want to see them as entertainers, both are pretty good poker players and pretty good analysts.

Tonka, another one, one of the best poker minds in the game. Maria Ho, one of my best friends, we talk poker all the time. When I do play poker, it’s typically in the states and Maria usually has a small piece of the action, so we end up chatting poker quite a bit.

So, I do like talking poker, I like watching it, but I don’t have an appetite for studying. But yeah, I think it would be really difficult for me to have not grown as a poker player and analyst over the years.

As corny it sounds, when I’m sitting there I do get to do commentary in my head. “What would I say about this situation if I were watching on stream.”

I’ve seen enough at this point that I’m not the worst player in the world. I’m not the best, but I’m not the worst.

You’ve been around a long time on the circuit. When did you start commentating?

In 2009, so like 15 years.

So, are you happy with this transition towards doing a bit of other stuff?

Yeah man. When Black Friday happened I thought that my career might be over. I thought that would have been the end of poker on TV, the end of me on TV, and it turns out that it wasn’t.

And not only have I continued to work, but I’ve also gone on to become a respected(ish) member of the community and to be well liked, and to have fans, and to be valued by PokerStars.

They say “Hey, we want you to be part of the team. We want you to rep our brand full time.” And all of that is much better than I would have expected.

They used to say to me, it takes ten-fifteen years to establish yourself in any industry and then all of a sudden it just kind of happens overnight. So, it took fifteen years for it to happen overnight…

If that makes sense, which it kind of doesn’t… but then again I don’t usually make sense all that often.

You make sense in your own way…

(Laughs) That’s right…

Congratulations to Joe Stapleton for his final table finish and picking up one of his biggest ever live scores.


The Irish Open has been running since Monday, which means some players are already well into their third day of waking up a little bit rough.

For PokerStars Blog, it’s our first day on the ground here at the RDS is Dublin. This morning, Ankit Ahuja was outside in his PS branded slippers and socks, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he prepared for Day 2 of the High Roller.

It was far too early for an interview. Instead, I wished him good luck and told him firmly and without consent that I would grab him should he win the tournament. After all, someone will be crowned champion by the end of the day and, given the heater he’s been on as of late, there’s no reason it couldn’t be Ankit.

Ahuja leaves and over stumbles a man in a suit. He’s floor staff just finishing his shift, 10pm – 10am. He’s been up all night working the cash desk for the 24/7 cash games that are going on during the festival. There’s no question the staff work their blazers off to make these events run smoothly.

But for the players, all of that is somewhat irrelevant. What really matters is that the Main Event starts today, the first of four starting flights getting underway from midday local time. There’s €1 million and good craic guaranteed!

You can follow live updates of the Main Event on PokerNews as reporters bring all the action from the tournament floor.

Here on PokerStars Blog, you can expect interviews, feature stories, and stories on peripheral happenings such as the Team England Vs Team Ireland spectacle, which yesterday saw Spraggy and Fintan Hand jump an obstacle course in inflatable horse costumes and Tonkaaaap realize his true calling as a sumo wrestler.

There’s lots already happened here at the Irish Open and, although we can’t catch up on everything, we will be bringing you a story about Joe Stapleton and his final table result in the 6-max event. So, standby, stay tuned, and keep checking in to PS Blog.


The Irish Open 2024 – sponsored by PokerStars and Paddy Power – runs from March 25 – April 1 and takes place at the prestigious Royal Dublin Society in (you guessed it) Dublin, Ireland.

There’s a whopping €1 million guaranteed in the prize pool of the €1,150 buy-in Irish Open Main Event, plus High Roller events with both €3,000 and €5,000 buy-ins.


See below for key tournament dates. The full schedule is available here.

  • Irish Open Main Event: March 25 – April 1 – €1,150
  • Irish Open €5,000 High Roller: March 26-27
  • Irish Open €3,000 High Roller: March 30-31


Satellites for the Irish Open are running right now on PokerStars.

There are two different types of direct satellite available: “seat only” packages, awarding the buy-in to the Main Event, or “seat plus expenses” packages valued at €1,500, which also give you €350 to help take care of your travel and accommodation.


You can also win your way there through Power Path!

Book your trip to the Irish Open through Power Path

A Silver Pass worth $2,500 can be used at the Irish Open.

But what exactly does a Silver Pass get you? Here’s a breakdown:

  • €1,150 Irish Open main event entry
  • €550 Irish Open side event entry
  • Limited edition merchandise
  • Live event liaison support
  • Exclusive Irish Open activities
  • Plus, the remaining value of the Silver Pass credited as expenses
  • ADDED VALUE: Courtesy of the Irish Open, Silver Pass winners will also receive a bonus entry to the €200 ‘Mini Irish Open – €500k GTD’


If there’s one thing that sets the Irish Open apart from other poker festivals, it’s the craic — and there’s going to be even more than usual this year.

PokerStars Team Pros Benjamin Spragg and Fintan Hand – alongside teammates and two freeroll winners – will compete across a series of challenges throughout the festival, as part of Team England vs Team Ireland.

Find out what they’ll be doing and who is joining the boys on their teams here.


The Irish Open has been a must-visit stop on any poker player’s travel list for decades. 

It’s not just the incredible Dublin location or the festive community spirit that makes it essential on the international poker calendar, however. This is an event steeped in history.

The Irish Open is the longest-running no limit hold’em tournament outside of Las Vegas, with a history dating back more than 42 years. It firmly established itself on the world stage in 1984, when 25 American players–including the legends Stu Ungar, Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson–made the journey to Dublin. That tournament was televised, the interest was huge, and the Irish Open hasn’t slowed down since.

Defending champ David Docherty

Last year saw the biggest event in Irish poker history with PokerStars qualifier David Docherty taking home a first prize of €365,000 after besting a 2,491-entry field.

Steve O’Dwyer (who has lived in Dublin for the past 10 years) and PokerStars commentator Griffin Benger have also taken down the Main Event. O’Dwyer beat a field of 2,040 entries in his home city to win the first-place prize of €318,700 in 2022.

Steve O'Dwyer playing poker

Steve O’Dwyer 2022 Irish Open Champion


2023 – David Docherty – €365,000
2022 – Steve O’ Dwyer – €318,700
2020 – Pablo Silva – €462,100
2019 – Weijie Zheng – €300,000
2018 – Ryan Mandara – €250,000
2017 – Griffin Benger – €200,000
2016 – Dan Wilson – €150,000
2015 – Ioannis Triantafyllakis – €200,000
2014 – Patrick Clarke – €200,000
2013 – Ian Simpson – €265,000
2012 – Kevin Vandersmissen – €420,000
2011 – Niall Smyth – €550,000
2010 – James Mitchell – €600,000
2009 – Christer Johansson – €600,000
2008 – Neil Channing – €801,000

PokerStars commentator Griffin Benger won the Irish Open in 2017



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