While the bulk of poker action takes place in the United States of America, it is the Irish who are credited with bringing poker to Europe. Despite being a small island, Ireland has a lot to offer when it comes to poker. With card clubs since the 1970s, poker festivals have been prevalent in pubs, hotels, and pubs ever since.
Known for the longest-running poker festival in Europe, Ireland is home to the world-famous Irish Open. The Emerald Isle hosts the second longest running poker festival in the world behind World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Ireland has seen many solid poker players emerge from the country along the way. The small nation has produced everything from TV tournament winners, poker commentators, sponsored pros, and bracelet winners. Let’s look at some of the best poker players that have emerged from Ireland.
One of the most recognised Irish poker players in the international circuit, Andy Black, made a name for himself after he almost won the 2005 WSOP Championship Event and earned $1,750,000 for his outing. Despite holding over one-third of the chips in play at the final table, he ultimately ended up in fifth place at the biggest stage in world poker. However, it was this near-miss which propelled Black’s poker career.
Since that outing, he got a coveted sponsorship deal quickly and has been travelling all across the globe to participate in some of the most prestigious poker tournaments. His win in the Premier League Poker tournament in 2008 also earned Black $250,000, which remains to be among one of his most significant titles. Having amassed over $5 Million in tournament earnings. Black is one of the most successful poker players from Ireland.
With nearly $4 Million in live tournament earnings, Marty Smyth is amongst the best poker players from Ireland. The Irish player has amassed a lot of money from a relatively small number of tournament cashes. However, he has also won a few big titles during his poker career.
While Smyth hasn’t played as much poker recently, you can’t take him lightly when it comes to him on a poker table. Smyth has some of the highest six-figure plus wins in Ireland and a poker career that only a few in his country have managed to replicate.
Based out of Dublin, Donnacha O’Dea is one of the most famous poker players from Ireland with a WSOP bracelet. O’Dea won his golden bracelet at the 1998 edition of the tournament by shipping the Pot Limit Omaha ( PLO) event. He has also come close to winning the Main Event, managing a sixth-place finish in 1983 and a ninth-place finish in 1991.
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Having swam for Ireland and represented the country at the 1968 Olympics, O’Dea was the first Irishman to swim 100 meters in less than a minute. The Irishman also won a hugely popular TV poker tournament named the Poker Million to earn $350,000 for his first-place finish in 2004.
When we speak about the best Irish poker talent, the list will remain incomplete without mentioning Eoghan O’Dea, the son of Donnacha O’Dea. Just like his father, he also made it to the final table of the WSOP Main Event in 2011. This saw Eoghan and Donnacha become the first ever father and son duo who have reached the WSOP Main Event final table.
Playing in a pool of nearly 7,000 entrants in the ME, He managed to record a sixth-place finish, which earned $1.7 Million in prize money. Eoghan also won a WSOP online bracelet event to pocket $100,000 in prize money in August 2020. It is no surprise that Eoghan O’Dea grew into a sensational Irish player and surpassed his father’s lifetime poker earnings record. With over $3 Million in lifetime earnings, he is now among the top 10 ranked players in Ireland All Time Money List.
Dara O’Kearney’s first recorded cash was his win at the 2008 European Deepstack Poker Championship, earning him €47,000. Since then, O’Kearney has cashed at multiple tournaments worldwide, pocketing $1 Million in winnings.
As per multiple reports, He also has a stellar poker career online and has pocketed nearly $3.5 Million by playing poker online. O’Kearney has also become a published author after starting off his poker blog and now writes books that focus on satellite tournaments and progressive knockouts.
Well, that was our list of some best poker players from the land of Saints and Scholars. Do let us know in the comments section about your top poker players from Ireland.
Smit is a sports writer at Gutshot Magazine. After completing his Bachelor’s in Mass Media, and a Master’s degree in Sports Management, this sports fanatic uses articles as a tool to express his opinions. Bring up cricket or football and you will find this usually quiet guy speak for hours! He also co-heads the official supporters club of Chelsea FC in Mumbai, wherein he hosts screenings, football meets and other such events.