WHEN IRISH EYES SMILED

We’ve had the “Year of the Irish” before. The 96 clean sweep at the European Championship. The 99 Main Event. The 2008 1 2 3 4 in The Poker Million. But there’s a strong case to be made that, even without a bracelet so far, this year’s fighting WSOP showing by the likes of Cahill, Doke, O’Shea and Andy The New Black is right up there and will inspire even more of their countrymen to go fearlessly to Vegas to do their money like men.

That should scare the shit out anyone that gets in the way of the Irish juggernaut!

Recently at a pub tournament in Ireland, some guy asked me about Irish bracelet winners and I suddenly realised I was the world’s leading authority on this subject. A pretty sad claim to fame really. Ireland claim 6 bracelets and by some fluke I had a ringside seat for half of them and was floating around for the rest.

Furlong’s main event win was the most famous and has cost me years of sleep and a couple of billion in sponsorship. Over a coffee in Dublin a few months ago, he told me that in 82 he was walking his dogs in Killiney when he saw his pal Terry Rogers outside the Killiney Castle hotel, who explained to him that there was a bunch of guys with funny names like Chip, Doyle, Stuey, Slim and Puggy in town playing a poker game called Texas Holdem. Noel had never heard of holdem or Texas maybe but an hour later was relieving Puggy of his dough. The rest is history. All I have to say about the matter is that I wish he’d walked his fucking dogs somewhere else.

Gosneys is the bracelet everyone forgets about as Lawrence only spent the first month of his life in Ireland. I met him ouside the Rio one day and to be fair to him it was 5 minutes before he let it slip that he’d won a bracelet the previous night. We went to the Nugget to celebrate and had a great time flooring vodka and coke. He did anyway. He was flooring the vodka. I was flooring the coke.

I was walking through the Rio cardroom when Andy told me there was an Irish guy at that day’s final table. I took a quick look, saw nobody I knew, and assumed Andy was off his head. He wasn’t. The guy I didn’t know was Ciaran O’Leary but I made up for lost time by having a drink with him at the end of the series. This time I drank the vodka and the coke. So did my buddy Ciaran.

Alan Smurfitts was probably the funniest of the Irish bracelets. The event was the 1500 PLO and I can remember telling Scott Gray during a break that Alan had lost his mind and was somehow allowed to walk around inside the rail looking intently at what was going on everywhere. Scott told me that when you have as much money as Alan you can do whatever the fuck you like. Fair enough. It was only the next day when we were down to four tables that I realised that he had actually played the tournament and was still in the middle of the toughest last four tables I’d ever seen. He beat them all. I like Alan but I’d much prefer to see an Irish guy who needed the money win it. Like me for example!

The most popular bracelet winner was undoubtedly Marty Smyth. He nailed the 10k Omaha championship in front of the loudest and most goodnatured gallery Vegas has ever seen. In any sport. Helmuth was nearby at a pretty quiet final table playing for his umpteenth bracelet. I couldn’t resist dropping by to ask him if he wished he was Irish. Stupid question really. Karma prevailed as the security guys, who didn’t understand the Irish, were in a state of panic and wouldn’t let me rejoin team Marty. It was a little ironic as I was the only Irish guy within a 100 mile radius who wasn’t drinking anything stronger than water. Welcome to Vegas!

The bracelet I enjoyed most was Don O’Deas. The Don is these days best known for being Eoghan’s daddy but when I was a kid he was a big star as an Olympic swimmer. Shrewd judges of the sport claim that, with an East German coach, he could have swum across the Atlantic on under five hours but that’s ridiculous. Why would he want to do that?

Anyway, years later Don and I were in the last 22 of the WSOP 1500 PLO event. I was second in chips to Johnny Chan. The Don was less well positioned. Actually he was in deep shit stone last and unlikely to make the money (they were paying 18 places). I could hear Scott Gray and Pittsburg Pete discussing luncheon arrangements prior to sweating me at the following days final table. We were there all right. Sweating Donnacha as he took Chan out in a dour 3 hour struggle. Some of it anyway! Eventually, The Don was awarded a bracelet on which was engraved POT LUCK OMAHA. He loved it. After all, if you’ve won a WSOP bracelet you don’t need to read it to be reminded of just what you’ve achieved.

 

 

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DEAL ME OUT!

An Irish player decided to do a bit of dealing on the off chance that the river poker Gods might forget about him and find some other poor bastard to pick on while he was otherwise engaged. As he was a veteran of many self dealt games, he obviously wasn’t given any training or practise. I spoke to him after his first honest days work in the best part of a century and asked him how he’d got on. “Ok”, he replied “except I kept forgetting I wasn’t supposed to deal myself in”.

Self dealt games can theoretically lead to skullduggery from time but in reality I’ve only come across cheating a couple of times and bizzarely every time nobody said anything ! The first time was in the Eccentrics club in Dublin. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to spotting stuff, so when I noticed one of my opponents was quite partial to slipping himself a card off the bottom of the deck every now and again I was quite chuffed. During a food break, I proudly told a couple of players what Id very cleverly noticed. I was amazed when they told me they all knew and he’d been doing it for years. They patiently explained that he never won and that if he weren’t allowed to cheat a little bit every now and again he wouldn’t play as he’d feel his edge had been taken away! That’s Ireland for you.

A few years later, I was playing regularly in a huge dealers choice game in the Griffen Club in Dublin. For some reason, I can’t remember we played in a private room and dealt ourselves. One day, Irish legend Colette Doherty, Player A and I were playing three handed. We’d been playing for two or three days, so obviously we were a bit tired. Especially Player A, who was so tired he sometimes put less chips into the pot than the bet he announced. Thankfully, he wasn’t too tired because he manfully managed to get the right amount in every time he had the nuts. It can be a very easy game sometimes. During a break, I mentioned this to Colette. All she said was “I know. And don’t even think of opening your big fucking mouth”. Colette always did have a way of getting straight to the point.

The Aviation Club, once the hub of poker in Europe, has sadly closed its doors for the last time, allegedly a victim of French politics. The last day I was there I played against The Saddest Man In The World. In twenty years I’d never seen him smile. I thought Id spotted him grinning once when I lost a big pot but someone told me he had a foreign object stuck in his teeth. Pity it wasn’t his throat. On this particular day, this guy lost his chips and went through the normal routine of moaning like fuck whilst glaring at the dealer. Eventually, he went off and got some more chips and sat at a new seat in the game. He told the dealer to deal him out. A few hands later, the dealer informed him he could be dealt in on the big blind if he liked. He liked. He did the lot on a kamikaze mission in the first pot and attacked the poor dealer for dealing him in. He didn’t consider that sufficient punishment for the poor guy who was only guilty of doing a good job so he called the floor to complain further. I tried to keep a straight face but was drawing dead on that one. That only made things worse. I had a good win and went home laughing. I put the chips on top of my TV cabinet. They are still there as the club was closed a couple of days later and they are now as useful as a chocolate teapot. That’s karma for you!

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A RATHER LARGE ESKIMO

I put in a lot of time at this year’s Paddy Power Poker Irish Open, having the craic over breakfast with old guys like Sexton, Harrington, Hansen and O’Dea. It’s not like they are particularly good fun, but I kinda like the buzz of being the guy who’s most likely to be alive for breakfast the following day. Old guys seem to like telling stories about dead guys. I guess it makes them feel good, especially if they look kinda xxxxed themselves, so I was surprised when they made an exception and got into Eskimo stories one morning.

I was pretty confused when someone pointed out Eskimo to me on my first trip to the WSOP, about a hundred years ago. I thought eskimoes were little guys who fished through small circular holes in the ice before crawling through a tiny door into an igloo and this guy looked like nothing short of a full whale would fill him and as for the igloo door bit forget it. It was explained to me that he fed himself through the comp system and when he crawled it was into the back seat of his car when he required a little shuteye. This was for sure a guy who knew how to keep the nut to a minimum. About a week later he scored big in a tournament, put the lot on the table in the biggest game in the place but continued to live in his car. I got to thinking maybe they called him Eskimo because he was a tough xxxxer.

The breakfast guys rattled off about half a dozen Eskimo stories, all of which I’d heard before which didn’t matter because they still made me laugh. Especially the one about a conversation that allegedly took place between Eskimo and another guy in the toilet in Binion’s during a break in a WSOP omaha tournament. Both guys claimed to have a little above their starting stack and after a little verbal sparring agreed to swap five per cent. You will hear this kind of conversation a dozen times a day at the WSOP but rarely, if ever, will it involve one guy who has already been knocked out and another who didn’t enter the event in the first place.

Several years later, I was standing outside a tent at the back of the Rio chatting with Mike Sexton during an unscheduled break in another WSOP omaha event. The reason they were on break was that an ambulance had been called to take Eskimo to hospital after he’d had an attack of some sort. Given his preference for sleeping in cars I’m sure he’d have preferred to receive treatment in the back of the ambulance rather than go to hospital but nobody thought to mention that to the paramedics. Unbelievably, the betting started. The romantics wanted to bet that Eskimo would be back before he got anted away. The realists facilitated them. For once the romantics won, which made Jeff Lisandros comment that in future if he was staking a guy in a tournament he wanted to see a medical report first seem a tad harsh.

Posted in Irish Open 2013 - Final Day

DEVILFISH UNPLUGGED

A few years ago, when Fintan Gavin’s Irish Poker Championship was moved to Galway, I was given the job of persuading big names chosen by the sponsor to come to the party capital of Ireland to play poker and drink. Or maybe it was the other way around. Now that’s what I call a job!

It was pretty easy and a great laugh. Poker players are great fun to deal with because they’re full of shit and their own importance. My buddy Robert Williamson 111 was the first to try it on. He wanted a first class transatlantic ticket. I told him the bad news was that wasn’t going to happen but the good news was the guys at the back of the plane would arrive just a millisecond after the lads sitting up front, and furthermore would have exactly the same beer privilege. Sold.

 

The easiest guy to talk into coming was The Devilfish. I told him there would be a band playing in the bar every night and he could get up and sing with them whenever he liked. He was on a plane almost before I hung up the phone. I’ve seen The Fish play guitar in Vegas: Piano in London and Barcelona and keyboards in Paris, but I’ve never seen him as happy as when the band in Galway handed him an electric guitar and let him do vocals every now and again. During a break, I told the guy who’d put the band together that he could tell him to fuck off any time he liked but he said : “Shure he’s grand. Isn’t he enjoying himself?”, before adding almost as an afterthought “Anyway, shure we turned his guitar off half an hour ago.”

 

There is a school of thought that the Fish never won in Ireland because he was too busy telling Irish jokes in the worst stage Irish accent you’ve ever heard to concentrate on the boring stuff, like figuring out what’s going on in the game. One of his favourites (and mine too because it was so bad it always made me crack up) involved three guys, one Irish, one English and one Scottish who worked together as scaffolders on a London building site. As they worked at great heights, they had lunch together sitting at the top of the building. One day, the English guy opened his lunch box to discover he had been given spam sandwiches. “I hate spam. If she gives me spam again tomorrow, I’m going to end it all.” The Scottish guy had also been given spam, by his wife and joined his English colleague in the suicide pact. The Irish guy opened his lunch box and he also had spam sandwiches. He immediately agreed to jump off the building with his pals if it happened again. The next day The English guy jumped off the building when he discovered his Mrs had given him spam again. The Scottish guy did likewise. Paddy, the irish guy, slowly opened the lid of his box and dived off the building when he spied a spam sandwich.

At their joint funeral, the English guy’s wife was distraught and told the other two widows she thought her husband liked spam, so that was why she gave it to him quite often. The bemused Scottish widow had much the same story. The Irish widow looked completely confused when she said “I really don’t know what happened because Paddy used to make his own sandwiches.”

 

 

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CONTROVERSY AND CRAIC AT IRISH OPEN

If you like laughter with your poker, the Paddy Power Poker Irish Open was the place to be. Mike Sexton got into the spirit of things pretty quickly and started telling Devilfish stories over breakfast. His favourite was about a big Omaha game in the Bellagio, a few years back. Greek George was in town which meant so was everybody else. This guy was in the island owning business which, judging by the way he played poker, was a lucrative enough way to make a living.

The Fish was quite keen to get into the game but was a little short of the 50k required to sit down. A lot short actually. About 44k short. He spent three days spinning up the few quid he had and eventually got the buyin together and joined the big game. He played pretty tight and eventually the opportunity he’d been dreaming about for days came along.

He was dealt aces double suited and got the last preflop raise in against George and Doyle Brunson. The flop was A 7 5 (two diamonds). This was pretty good news for The Fish as diamonds was one of his suits. He joyfully got the lot in against Doyle. A 6 appeared at some stage and Doyle showed 9874 (two diamonds) to win the pot. The Fish stood up and stared at this hand. Mike thought he was going to turn the table over but he didn’t. He just walked away. A few minutes later, he came back and asked Brunson “Have you got a copy of your book handy? I could use it to wipe my ass!”

Nolan Dalla and Eamonn Connolly were in the bar one evening trying to be whiskey drinkers. They weren’t much good at it but their enthusiasm was commendable. Mad Marty dropped by and told an unlikely story. Unlikely even by his own standards. He said a friend of his had his foot amputated due to gangrene. Marty went to see him just after his operation and the guy drowsily asked him “Are my testicles black?” This was a bit of a shock even for Marty who didn’t really want to get involved, but the guy repeated the question twice more. Marty finally pulled back the sheet that was covering his pal, pulled down his boxers and carefully examined their contents. He assured him all was well down there but the guy just said “No No. I asked you were my test results back?” This is apparently a very funny tale if you happen to be half full of whiskey.

The final table of the main event produced a priceless moment when some German guy slow rolled Irish legend Don O’Dea. He agonised for about four minutes before calling all in on the flop with the nuts. In the old days of the Irish Open he’d have thrown down the stairs for sure, but these days that kind of thing is frowned upon so a partisan crowd had to settle for booing the guy which is a poor substitute for a good lynching. Unfortunately, The Don outdrew him. This was a very popular move with the crowd but I’da love to seen what was coming next if he’d actually won the pot. This may well indicate that I’m a lot sicker than I thought. By the time I got to the commentary box about an hour later, apologists were spreading a rumour that the guy was actually a very nice chap. I recalled a conversation I had with a friend of mine who’d just been attending his friends murder trial. I asked him how he could possibly go along to support a guy who had obviously committed a gruesome crime. He replied that the guy was actually a very nice fellow indeed. Especially when he wasn’t murdering people.

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DEVILFISH .ONE OF A KIND.

It was some time in the early nineties. I was playing poker in Dublin’s Jackpot Club a couple of hours before the Irish Open was due to start. Some guy I’d never seen before came in the door and immediately started talking at Alan Betson. He appeared to be pretty sad and I didn’t blame him because from filling in the dots between the odd word or two of English I picked up, it appeared that this was one unlucky bastard.

All of us felt very sorry indeed for this poor lad. All of us that is except Alan who raised an eyebrow and said “Are you mistaking me for someone who gives a fuck?” That was my introduction to the phenomenon that became the Devilfish. Though back then his name was Dave.

A couple of months ago, I was talking to him about this year’s event. He said he had a couple of health issues but was looking forward to coming back to Dublin again. Sadly, he was bluffing. He died on the final day of this year’s Open .That was the thing about The Fish. At his best, he was a hard man to put on a hand.

I think it was January 97. A bunch of us were at whatever was going on in the Four Queens. The Fish was there with his driver, which seemed a little odd as they didn’t have a car but maybe they were planning on purchasing one in the near future. The big Omaha game wasn’t going too good for Devilfish and he quite reasonably got it into his head that it’d go a lot better if his driver wasn’t watching him play and asking how he was doing, and awkward stuff like that.

So, he took a hundred dollar bill from his stack and gave it to his employee suggesting he check out Vegas. Or a hundred bucks worth of it anyway. Being from Hull, the guy had never had a hundred anything in his whole life, so he quite sensibly went to the cage to get change. The cashier introduced him to two security guys, who in turn introduced him to the police, who in turn introduced him to the FBI. They all seemed very interested in where his note came from and amazingly were unaware of the existence of The Devilfish, which to be fair didn’t reflect very well on the law enforcement agencies involved.

After several hours down town, it was decided maybe it’d be a good idea if they introduced themselves, so everybody went back to the Four Queens. The Fish was no longer playing poker so they tried his room. His driver knocked on the door saying “Dave, Dave! Open up! Its me.” Devilsh replied “Fxxx off. I’m trying to sleep!” “But Dave. The FBI are with me.” “Well, they can Fxxx off too!” They didn’t.

A few days after this very unfortunate misunderstanding over the dodgy hundred dollar bill had been explained away to everyone’s satisfaction, I was watching Dave, oh sorry! Devilfish, at his entertaining finest as he demolished a final table in one of the NLH events. Only Men the Master remained and he only remained a little bit as his stack was down to two big blinds. A fifteen minute break was announced which caused Men to throw a complete wobbly.

Quite understandably in my book in the circumstances, but it was great craic anyway. Devilfish put the icing on the cake by insisting they take the scheduled break, telling Men he should use the time wisely to reconsider his tactics. I thought Men was going to have a triple heart attack but was wrong again.

The crowd absolutely loved it. Even without the heart attack. Of course it almost went horribly wrong as a furious Men doubled up a few times after the break before making the mistake of getting it in with the best hand. The whole show was hilarious, Devilfish was in a class of his own when it came to making people laugh. And that’s why he will be remembered years after the robots have been forgotten.

Posted in Irish Open 2013 - Final Day

Ioannis Triantafyllakis is Irish Open 2015 Champion!

Irish Open 2015 Final DayGreek online qualifier Ioannis Triantafyllakis has won the 2015 Irish Open and €209,500, plus a bonus €50,000 for becoming the PaddyPower Poker Sole Survivor, outlasting 107 other qualifiers – along with everyone else.

The €3,200 + €300 Irish Open Main Event attracted 321 entrants, generating a prizepool of €1,027,200 which was distributed (unevenly, of course) to the top 36 finishers. This year saw side event action crowned with the €1,000 Liam Flood Memorial Tournament, which was won by Garrett Boyle for €25,000. There were six side events in total, including a €300 Mini version of the Main Event, which was won by Mahmood Rasheed for €13,133.

Irish Open 2015 Day 1This being the Irish Open, there were also sumo-suit battles, flips for drinks, a zebra on the rail and a spicy dusting of controversy to top off a week of the craic the like of which hasn’t been seen since this time last year.

A who’s who of Irish poker descended on the Hilton Doubletree (née Burlington) over the Easter weekend (April 3rd-6th). Making the final table today meant outmanoeuvring the likes of Simon Deadman (16th for €9,750), Steve O’Dwyer (15th for €12,500), and Tom Kitt (9th for €20,500). Just to finish in the money involved nearly three days of navigating the shark-infested waters of the Main Event, past Mike Sexton, Dan Harrington, Daragh Davey, Sean Prendiville, Jude Ainsworth and Dave Masters.

The final table featured players from five countries, including respected local lad and UKIPT Dublin winner Kevin Killeen and Declan Connolly, making an incredible third appearance at an Irish Open final; it was led at the start of the day by two-time WSOP finalist and all around Irish poker legend Donnacha O’Dea.

Start O'Dea chip leader

Start O’Dea chip leader

Andreas Gann may have spent the least amount of time on the feature table (finishing 8th for €26,750), but his exit has undoubtedly been the most talked-about hand of the entire tournament. Playing out of position against O’Dea with Kd-Qd, he flopped the nuts on an 8d-Ad-6d board when O’Dea’s Ac-6c guaranteed him a payoff. Instead of snap-calling when O’Dea set him in, there ensued a tank of over a minute, which qualifies this as Slowroll of the Year. The deck brought Gann’s karma full circle, however, with a house-completing 6h on the river which sent the crowd, staunch supporters of both tournament etiquette and the O’Dea poker clan, into a frenzy.

Next out was Norwegian Baard Dahl (7th for €35,250), a victim of his stack size and some unlucky timing running Ks-Jc into Killeen’s pocket aces. Killeen used his stack boost to begin mixing it up against the two most active players on the (now short-handed) final: Michael Wang and Ioannis Triantafyllakis, the latter soon to become a comfortable chip leader after busting Fergal Cawley in 6th place (€46,500). Cawley had played a fearless Day 2, but he didn’t have the stack to work the same magic on the final.

Killeen - runner up with a near-even chop

Killeen – runner up with a near-even chop

O’Dea, the man splitting the Dublin-heavy crowd’s cheering loyalties with Killeen, hit the rail in 5th place.  Short stacked for a while, he found a hand – Ah-9d – with which to make a stand against Triantafyllakis. Unfortunately, the chip leader had A-K this time around, and O’Dea adds €61,850 to his mile-long list of lifetime tournament cashes.

A tournament break five-handed seemed to bring the stars (or at least the deck) into alignment for Killeen, as in back to back hands he picked up pocket queens and busted an opponent. Victim one was prolific – and successful – Irish tournament player Connolly, who probably felt more at home playing on the feature final table (with hole cards broadcast with an hour delay) than anyone, seeing as he’d done it before in 2010 and 2013. Even for a seasoned player like Connolly, finishing 4th must have rankled because although he picked up a hefty €82,750, his exit made Triantafyllakis the Sole Survivor (see above).

Victim two was American Michael Wang, who had impressed on Day 2 with his relentless preflop aggression when playing down to the final table, although Killeen back then had been the recipient of one or two of his chips. Now he got the lot, his second pair of queens crushing Wang’s Qs-Jc. He takes home €111,750.

Irish Open 2015 Final DaySuddenly Killeen and Triantafyllakis found themselves heads up, and quickly came to a chop arrangement – €192,500 for Killeen and €197,500 for Triantafyllakis, with €12,000 and the coveted trophy left to play for. Soon Triantafyllakis built a 2:1 chip lead, which he parlayed into the victory after around a level and a half. A mid-stages comeback by Killeen never put him back into the lead, his final hand all-in with As-2c vs. the stack-dominant Triantafyllakis with Qs-Td. It was a swift and clinical end for local hero Killeen – a queen in the door left him drawing thin, and it was soon over. Nearly €200,000 for a weekend’s work is probably some consolation.

Triantafyllakis looked delighted after his win, telling Laura Cornelius that this was his first big event in Ireland. He was especially keen on the Sole Survivor package, saying, “This promotion from PaddyPower Poker is very good – I’ve never seen this before. Very exciting! “

Commenting on his win, he said, “OK – I was a little bit lucky – but luck is important in poker! Everyone [on the final] was very good. I will come next year, the people here are very nice. Very polite.”

It’s over and out from your nice, polite updaters.

irishopenwinners2

Full payouts:

  1. Ioannis Triantafyllakis,Greece – € 209,500*
  2. Kevin Killeen, Ireland – € 192,500*    *deal, originally €250,000 and €152,000
  3. Michael Wang, USA – € 111,750
  4. Declan Connolly, Ireland – € 85,750
  5. Donnacha O’Dea, Ireland – € 61,850
  6. Fergal Cawley, Ireland – € 46,500
  7. Baard Dahl, Norway – € 35,250
  8. Andreas Gann, Germany – € 26,750

Continue reading

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Kevin Killeen Eliminated in 2nd Place (Officially €152,000, Actually €192,500)

Irish Open 2015 Final DayThere was no messing about on the final hand of this year’s Irish Open. Ioannis Triantafyllakis set Kevin Killeen in from the button, and the latter called all in.

Triantafyllakis: Qs-Td
Killeen: ahead with As-2c

It was a swift and clinical end for local hero Killeen – a queen in the door left him drawing thin, and it was soon over.

Board: 7c-4c-Qd-7h-3h

Ioannis Triantafyllakis is therefore our victor, taking home the €197,500 agreed in the deal, plus the €50,000 he won as the PaddyPower Poker Sole Survivor.

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Killeen Gets Shovey

Irish Open 2015 Final DayIoannis Triantafyllakis just limped in on the button with Qs-Td, and Kevin Killeen looked down at his pocket Ts-Th and and announced all in for 1.8 million – the first time during this heads up battle that Killeen has actually risked his whole stack, though he has been the shorter stack for the duration. Triantafyllakis folded, and play continued.

A couple hands later, Killeen did it again, this time pushing with Kc-8c in the big blind over another limp from the Greek. He picked up the blinds and antes again, but remains woefully short.

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Killeen Back Down to 2.4 Million

Kevin Killeen is back down to 2.4 million after Ioannis Triantafyllakis bet out on the turn of 6-T-4-Q board, seemingly with the specific intention of checking the river (another queen) and thus inducing a bluff from Killeen. Killeen duly bet 450k with just K-8, and Triantafyllakis’ A-6 won the hand. Admittedly he has been getting rather better cards than Killeen, but Triantafyllakis very definitely knows what he’s doing.

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