Kevin Vandersmissen is the 2012 Irish Open Champion

Kevin Vandersmissen has won the 2012 Irish Open Main Event, taking home the coveted trophy and a literally huge cheque for €420,000.  He beat Thomas Beer heads up after just 5 levels at the final table, surpassing his previous live cash record ($260,000 for his runner-up spot at EPT Snowfest in 2011).

This €3,200 + €300 event is a yearly one-off spectacular of tournament poker and attracts one of the most varied fields seen worldwide.  From international poker stalwarts like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Freddy Deeb and Julian Thew, to online qualifiers hailing from every corner of Europe, there is never an uninteresting starting table in the field – this year 502-strong.

Those who made the final table had already battled through three tough days, dodged the money bubble (54 places in total were paid) and survived the gruelling fight for a place in Day 4.

Ian Simpson’s emotional wringer of a final level actually left him in pole position going into the final table.  With 11 players remaining, he’d been involved in a huge hand with Tuomo Maki, a Finnish freeroll qualifier playing his first live event.  His turned straight’s holding on the river vs. flopped trips was the difference between losing his place at the final and the €100,000 Sole Survivor challenge to fellow qualifier Philip Magennis and starting the last day with the chip lead.

With just over two million chips, he and David Dean began the day comfortably in front of most of the opposition, while at the other end of the spectrum Samuel Chartier and Kevin Vandersmissen were sat with around half a million each.  It was neither of those, however, gracing the rail with his presence first – instead one of the biggest coolers of the tournament busted both Philip Magennis and Andy Black in the same hand.  Thomas Beer held Aces at the same time as small blind Black woke up with As-Ks and big blind Magennis found Qs-Qd.  In one fell swoop, a 2.1 million chip pot handed Beer a monster stack and left Magennis and Black collecting cash for their 9th and 8th place finishes (€23,000 and €32,700 respectively).

Finally, a player wearing an item of clothing describing them as the ‘Sole Survivor’ made sense, as Ian Simpson finished the job of outlasting 152 other similarly-dressed qualifiers to win a €100,000 package.

Around this time, Kevin Vandersmissen got his stack in with his tournament on the line.  From the start of this post, it’s clear how that particular showdown panned out – he doubled up through Dean and never dropped below the rough million chip mark again.  There was a hiatus before the next elimination, that of Samuel Chartier, who’d picked his shoving spots well until running A-J into Ian Simpson’s A-K preflop to bust in 7th spot (€44,500).

Not all dominating hands held up on this final, however.  Jordan Lewis busted in unfortunate fashion after threebetting all-in against Dixie Dean with Ac-Kd.  Dean had experienced a few setbacks in the previous level, but contributing factors or no, it was his lucky break that Kh-Jd beat big slick by flopping a Jack.  Lewis had never held a skyscraper stack but had put few feet wrong on the final and was understandably disappointed at his elimination in 6th (€59,000).

Although Ian Simpson lost a few chips doubling Vandersmissen for the second time, he got them all back by busting Steve Watts in 5th place (€78,000).  This elimination took the form of a giant race, after Simpson threebet all in holding pocket Sevens over Watts’ 128k initial raise.  The 7h-7s held firm and Watts returned to his cheering section comfortably ensconced in the bar.

Fourhanded, it was too close to call between the stacks of Simpson, Beer and Vandersmissen, with Dean holding about half as many chips.  Beer slowly regained momentum he’d lost in the last level while constantly being re-raised preflop, and took on Simpson for his whole stack when a pair vs. pair situation brought the opportunity.  Unfortunately for Simpson, his better pair (Tens vs. Eights) was only the better hand preflop; Beer hit a set and sent Simpson to be congratulated by his emotional girlfriend on his 4th place finish, his €107,500 Main Event cash and his €100,000 Sole Survivor cheque.

Dixie Dean, meanwhile, had dropped into the danger zone chip-wise, and although he got a slight reprieve doubling up with As-Jh all in preflop against Vandersmissen’s Ah-6d, he soon ran another button shove into the monstrous pocket Aces of Vandersmissen in the big blind.  Dean, remembered most vividly for his Day 3 wild celebrations at bursting the final table bubble by knocking out Jim O’Callaghan, played a quieter final (if unconventionally-played) and saved his delight for the presentation of his 3rd place cheque for €158,000.

Heads up went Vandersmissen’s way almost without exception.  The cards helped (at one point he flopped the nut straight, at others he picked up A-K and Aces) and when they didn’t he pulled off a big bluff moving in on the river with 5-high.  In the final hand, Beer finally found Ac-Kh on the button, raised and was called by Vandersmissen with 9d-7c.  The flop brought Vandersmissen top pair, and a series of bets (starting with a Vandersmissen check-raise and Beer click-back, ending with the former shoving and the latter committing the rest of his stack) brought the last hands on their backs.  The turn and river rolled out 8d-9h, handing the €225,000 runner-up spot to a not-too-gutted looking Thomas Beer and the trophy, €420,000 first prize and the 2012 Irish Open title to Belgian gaming phenomenon Kevin Vandersmissen.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the coverage from this year’s Irish Open, both on the blog and the livestream, and congratulations to all the staff, dealers and live broadcasters that helped make this event such a great one.

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