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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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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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.


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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Killeen Scrapes Some Chips Back

Irish Open 2015 Final DayKevin Killeen opened from the button with 5c-3c and Ioannis Triantafyllakis called with Qd-8d to see a flop – Ts-Jd-5d. Triantafyllakis checked the flush draw and gutshot that he’d hit, while Killeen checked behind with bottom pair.

The turn was the 4c, doing nothing for anyone, but Triantafyllakis now bet out 325k. Undeterred, Killeen made the call and they proceeded to the river.

The card in question was the 5s, making trips for Killeen and queen-high for Triantafyllakis. Nevertheless Triantafyllakisbet out 350k, prompting a spell in the tank for Killeen. When he emerged, it was to raise an amount that can only be described as plaques, and before the raise had made it more than an inch or two across the line, Triantafyllakis had folded.

Killeen is back up to 3.4 million. Triantafyllakis remains the 2:1 chip leader.

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Killeen Getting Beaten Up

Irish Open 2015 Final DayIoannis Triantafyllakis seems to be running over Kevin Killeen a bit at the moment and the Irishman is down to 2.3 million, Admittedly, Triantafyllakis has been picking up a lot of hands and hitting a lot of flops, but he’s also been pushing Killeen around a lot, on more than one occasion making him fold the better hand.

Whatever the reason, Killeen is now down to around 23 big blinds and reaching that special point where seeing a flop is no longer an option.

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Triantafyllakis Takes a 2:1 Lead

Irish Open 2015 Final DayKevin Killeen opened to 200k from the button with a respectable Ks-Qc and Ioannis Triantafyllakis looked down at Kc-Kd and reraised to 550k. To be fair, he’d done exactly the same thing with 5d-4d a few hands earlier, but no matter. Killeen called and they saw a flop.

Flop: 6s-3h-8h

Triantafyllakis made a sneaky check, and Killeen checked behind. Exactly the same thing happened on the 7d turn, and they moved on to the river – the 9d. Triantafyllakis checked for a third time and Killeen now tried it on for 360k. By this point, though, the board had become a bit dangerous, and Triantafyllakis just called. He took the pot, and now has a 2:1 chip lead over Killeen.

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