The Irish Poker Open held its first tournament in 1981, and it has certainly grown into one of the biggest poker events in Europe since then. The last four years have seen the tournament’s biggest growth, and this year topped them all. Held at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, the 2009 PaddyPower.com Irish Poker Open attracted 700 players for the €3,500 buy-in main event.
Players who took part in the event included Jamie Gold, Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Juha Helppi, Dan Harrington, Dave Colclough, Barny Boatman, Ludovic Lacay, Markus Golser, Soren Kongsgaard, Padraig Parkinson, Ciaran O’Leary, Brian Townsend, David Saab, Kara Scott, and Andy Black. Also in the field but looking for repeat titles were 2007 champion Marty Smyth and 2008 reigning champion Neil Channing.
Of the Day 1 players, Townsend was the first to be eliminated, and a number of others followed, which left only 287 when play came to an end later that evening. And in the lead was Bradley Verburg with 108,800, though Maurice Harmon and Andrew Pantling were following closely with only a few thousand chips separating them from the leader. William Kassouf and Matias Knaapinen rounded out the top five, and notables Phil Laak and Julian Thew were in the top ten.
Day 2 found several well-known players among the early casualties, including Channing, Boatman, Gold, and Helppi. But it was near the money bubble that play became tense, and action slowed noticeably. Finally, there were two all-ins, one of which resulted in Graham Masters doubling through Andrew Pantling. But the other resulted in the bubble bursting, as Ronald O’Hara pushed all-in with against the of Andreas Kyprianou. A queen came on the flop to make it final and eliminate O’Hara on the bubble.
The remaining 72 players were in the money, and Sean Donalson was the first to cash out in 72nd place for €3,500. Several others were eliminated, and with the ousting of Gert Cooman in 65th place, play stopped for the day with Andrew Bradshaw and Lee Brooke-Pearce tied for the chip lead with 283,500 chips each. Pantling was a close third, and Anatas Gueorguiev and Eddie Kavanagh rounded out the top five. Notable Albert Iverson was in sixth place on the leaderboard.
Day 3 began with those final 64 with the sole intention of playing down to the final table. With everyone in the money, John McNaughton led the way with an early elimination to speed up the first part of the day. Some of the notable bustouts through the afternoon included Paul Tierney in 54th place, Dave Colclough in 53rd, Roy Brindley in 49th, Charlie Ciresi in 35th, and Albert Iverson in 21st.
After Paul O’Connor left in tenth place, there was one more to go, though the nine survivors gathered at one table to begin that action. Ultimately, it was Philip Baker who pushed all-in with preflop, but he was called by Lee Brooke-Pearce holding pocket aces. Though a queen hit on the flop, nothing else was left for Baker and he finished in ninth place, on the final table bubble, with €37,400.
The final table was then set for the following day as follows:
Seat 1: Lee Brooke-Pearce 998,000
Seat 2: Andrew Pantling 2,286,000
Seat 3: Andrew Bradshaw 351,000
Seat 4: Kara Scott 701,000
Seat 5: William Kassouf 569,000
Seat 6: Bradley Verburg 217,000
Seat 7: Christer Johansson 906,000
Seat 8: Atanas Gueorguiev 990,000
Pantling had a tremendous chip lead going into the last day of action, and Vergurg and Bradshaw were the short stacks who would need to move early. And it should be mentioned that Scott is no stranger to poker, having been the on-camera host for the PokerStars.com European Poker Tour for some time, as well as a successful player in her own right, having finished 104th in the 2008 WSOP main event and cashed in the EPT Budapest in October of 2008.
Action was had right from the first hand, as Bradshaw was all-in with after some preflop action, and he was called by Gueorguiev and his pocket kings. The board brought no hope for Bradshaw when it ran out . Andrew Bradshaw became the eighth place finisher with €56,000 in his pocket for the effort.
Only a few hands later, Verburg made his move as well, making the all-in move preflop with , only to be called by Pantling and his . The dealer gave them , which gave Pantling the winning hand and eliminated Bradley Verburg in seventh place with €74,600.
The next to put his tournament life at risk was Kassouf, who made the all-in move preflop after a Gueorguiev raise. Gueorguiev called with pocket queens, and Kassouf had to turn over the pocket jacks. The board came to send William Kassouf out of the tournament in sixth place with €100,900.
Meanwhile, there were some double-ups. Scott was able to do it through Pantling when her pocket eights stood up to his threes. And Johansson doubled through Brooke-Pearce with K-Q to the latter’s pocket jacks when two kings came on the flop.
That last double-up left Brooke-Pearce crippled, which translated into an all-in with , but Pantling was there with and the call. The flop blanked, and a king on the turn was enough to let Lee Brooke-Pearce go in fifth place with €130,600.
Next up was a rematch between Gueorguiev and Scott. It was Scott who came out raising initially, but that led to reraising that finally put Gueorguiev all-in with pocket kings. Scott called with , and it looked as if the pocket pair would hold up as the flop came and the turn produced . But the river was the , and that gave Atanas Gueorguiev a fourth place finish and €163,300 in prize money.
Finally, Pantling made his move after quite a bit of back-and-forth betting preflop. Pantling pushed all-in with pocket sevens to the of Johansson. The board came , and Andrew Pantling left the tournament in third place with €205,200.
Heads-up action then began with the following counts:
Kara Scott 3,757,000
Christer Johansson 3,261,000
Johansson took the lead on the first hand of the match with a pot worth over 5.2 million chips, leaving Scott with approximately 1.8 million. Scott fought back, however, and became very aggressive with the raises and all-in moves.
But she could not catch up before the last hand occurred. Scott started the action with a raise, and Johansson called to see the flop come down . Scott was the first to bet, but Johansson check-raised. Scott came over the top all-in with J-9 for middle pair, but Johansson called with K-3 for top pair. The queen on the turn changed nothing, and the on the river ended the game.
Kara Scott finished the tournament in second place with €312,600 and much praise from her colleagues and fans.
Christer Johansson won the 2009 Irish Poker Open, which came with a trophy and €600,000 in prize money.
(Thanks to PokerNews for the live updates from which this information was compiled.)