It has grown from a local tournament to one that draws players in from around the globe. And the 2010 PaddyPowerPoker Irish Open showed its popularity with registration numbers that tied its all-time high, despite this being a year of financial hardship for many and a very busy tournament schedule for all, and starting on Good Friday. The Burlington Hotel in Dublin was the setting for the festivities, and it was ready to handle the big crowds.
The first day of the Irish Open was its sole starting day and brought a rather large field of 708 players to the tables. When the €3,200 buy-ins were counted, the prize pool soared past the €3 million mark, which allowed for the top 72 players to be paid and €600,000 to be set aside for the winner. Some of the names noted in the field were Praz Banzi, Arnaud Mattern, Barny Boatman, Teddy Sheringham, Kara Scott, Dario Minieri, Neil Channing, Roland de Wolfe, Julian Thew, Andy Black, Marc Goodwin, Sorel Mizzi, Sandra Naujoks, Padraig Parkinson, Brian Townsend, and defending champion Christer Johansson. But the majority of the field did not make it through the day, as only 256 players remained when the clock ran out. The chip leader was Keith Hawkins, who bagged 111,600 chips.
Day 2 thinned the field quickly, and players like Mattern, Channing, Mizzi, and Thew were casualties early in the afternoon. Toward the end of the night when play was scheduled to stop, the tournament staff decided the event was close enough to reaching the money to play on. They did just that, and bubble play took approximately an hour because of TV cameras and the attention paid to each all-in hand. Many players doubled up during that time. Finally, Anthony Reilly was eliminated in 74th place, and only one more needed to go before the rest were guaranteed a minimum €4,000 payday.
The bubble actually burst when Michael Jens Odderskjer pushed his very short stack all-in for the big blind but received three callers. They all checked down the board of , and when Steven King turned over for top pair and the win, Odderskjer showed for the loss, and he left in 73rd place. The first player to cash was Kaj Emmanuel, who busted moments after the bubble and took home €4,000 for the good timing. Play continued for a bit, and the last elimination of the day was Paddy Hicks in 62nd place. The remaining players were led in chip counts by Liam Flood, who bagged 398,200 chips.
Day 3 started with those 61 players, but it didn’t take long to see some of them hit the rail. Christian Caracuta was the first to do so in 61st place, and other notables who followed throughout the day included Andy Black in 56th place, Jen Mason in 53rd, Steven King in 45th, Liam Flood in 42nd, Ross Boatman in 39th, and Marty Wilson in 17th. With the plan in place to play down to the final table and no one ready to budge, play continued late into the night until finally, the nine-player table found its final bustout. It happened when Yann Dion pushed all-in preflop with pocket queens, and Paul Carr called, barely covering his opponent in chips but holding pocket aces. The board brought , and Dion was eliminated in ninth place with €37,700.
The final table was set for April 5 with the following chip counts:
|Seat 1: ||Peter Murphy ||546,000 |
|Seat 2: ||Ben Roberts ||419,000 |
|Seat 3: ||Edmund Sweeney ||407,000 |
|Seat 4:||Santeri Vilakoski ||1,722,000 |
|Seat 5: ||Rob Sherwood ||497,000 |
|Seat 6: ||Paul Carr ||1,596,000 |
|Seat 7: ||James Mitchell ||1,155,000 |
|Seat 8: ||Declan Connolly ||735,000 |
Play got underway on April 5 with almost immediate action. Connolly moved all-in and doubled through Mitchell, and Mitchell then doubled through Connolly. Sherwood also took an opportunity to double, though he did it through Vilakoski. There was no hesitation for players wanting to quickly accumulate chips or go home.
Murphy hoped for the same outcome as the ones before him. He pushed all-in with , and Mitchell chose to make the call with . The flop of gave Mitchell the advantage with the pair of tens, and the on the turn and on the river let it be. Peter Murphy got it in with the best hand but exited in eighth place, which was worth €56,300.
It didn’t take long for Connolly to make another move, this time starting with a reraise after Carr made an initial raise. Carr came back with an all-in move, and Connolly called for his tournament life with . Carr showed pocket tens, and the board came to allow the tens to stand. Declan Connolly left the table in seventh place with €75,000.
Then it was Sweeney’s turn to risk the remainder of his chips, and he did so preflop with . Roberts made the call with , and the dealer gave them a for flush drama but only a on the turn and on the river. Roberts’ ace-high hand held up, and Edmund Sweeney was eliminated in sixth place with €100,800.
Five-handed play saw Carr in the driver’s seat with over 2.5 million chips and Roberts on the short stack with only 521K. When the latter dropped below the 400k mark, the time came for that all-in play. Roberts pushed for 382K with , but Vilakoski was there with . The flop hit Vilakoski when it produced , but Roberts had straight outs. The turn and river cards dashed all hopes, though, and Ben Roberts left the scene in fifth place with €130,600.
Carr maintained his lead during four-handed play while Sherwood continued to lose ground as the shortest stack of the group. Finally, he put his tournament life on the line with but found himself up against the of Carr. The board was dealt , and the pair of kings wasn’t good enough. Rob Sherwood was gone in fourth place with €163,300.
After about 20 minutes of play between the three remaining players, the tournament staff called a dinner break, and when they returned, the chip counts showed Mitchell holding a slight lead over Vilakoski and Carr trailing by a few hundred thousand chips. But as Mitchell climbed further into the lead and Carr followed, it was Vilakoski who went the other direction.
Vilakoski finally moved all-in with , but Mitchell called from the big blind with . The dealer produced a board, which rivered the best hand for Mitchell and ousted Santeri Vilakoski in third place with €205,200.
Heads-up play began with the following counts:
|Paul Carr ||3,720,000 |
|James Mitchell ||3,360,000 |
Carr started the aggression right off the bat and continued to use his lead to intimidate Mitchell, but eventually Mitchell found his spot. He took an all-in chance with A-9 of clubs versus the A-6 offsuit of Carr, and the K-Q-3-10-6 board had three clubs to give Mitchell the flush and the double-up and the chip lead.
Mitchell’s nearly 2-to-1 lead over Carr didn’t last long, as Carr found his opportunity to double up with pocket aces. Then one of the most exciting hands of the tournament went down. Carr raised the hand preflop, and Mitchell raised. Carr responded with an all-in move, and Mitchell called about 3 million chips for his tournament life with , which didn’t look so great against the of Carr. The flop was an innocent , and the didn’t change much. But the dramatic hit on the river and gave Mitchell the miracle double-up. The crowd went wild, and the tournament went on.
With only 700K left, Carr pushed all-in with A-5, which beat the K-6 of Mitchell and gave him about 1.4 million chips with which to continue. But it would have to happen again.
This time, the hand started with a raise and call to see the flop. Mitchell led out, but Carr check-raised all-in. Carr called with , and Mitchell turned over for the advantage. The came on the turn and an followed on the river, and the full house belonged to Mitchell. Paul Carr of Ireland was eliminated in second place with €312,600.
James Mitchell of England won the 2010 Irish Poker Open and the €600,000 that went with the title.