The 2008 Irish Open

Published on: March 4, 2008 

Everyone in the poker world – and probably quite a few people who aren’t – has heard of the World Series of Poker tournament.  There is another tournament that is just as well known and that is the Irish Open.  The Irish Open is the second oldest poker tournament in the world and it is known for its atmosphere.  The 2007 event attracted 708 players and the prize pool was a whopping €2.3 million.  This year the prize pool is a guaranteed €3 million with a thousand player capacity.  Dublin, Ireland will be overrun with poker players on March 19th through March 24th.

The Irish Open’s beginnings were just as colorful as the WSOP’s.  Gambler and bookmaker Terry ‘Red Menace’ Rogers first attended the WSOP while visiting Las Vegas in the late seventies.  He enjoyed the competition so much that he decided to try his own version of the large tournament.  He was already running stud tournaments in his native Ireland of up to 300 players who paid between £100.00 to £200.00 to sit at one of the poker tables.  With the help of his friend Liam Flood, Terry introduced Ireland to Texas Hold’Em style poker and launched the first competition.  In 1980, Colette Doherty was crowned the first Irish Open champions.

Terry has continued to build the Irish Open into the second largest poker tournament in the world.  Much of the success has to do with the way Terry has promoted the tournament every year and the organization of the event.  He has used promotional tricks such as combining betting ads for the poker match with betting on the Super Bowl in order to get around the law governing such advertising.  He would pick an outsider to be a favorite just to see how people would react.  It was effective in that is made the average citizen want to jump into the tournament and play.

The promotional technique Terry has used over the years has even attracted American’s to come and play.  Players such as Benny Binion, Doyle Brunson, and even actor, Mr. T. has made it over to Ireland to play in the Irish open.  Terry died in 1999 and the tournament was taken over by his friend Liam Flood.  The match was moved from the original location of the Eccentric Club in Dublin to the Merrion Casino.  It was moved yet again in 2006 to the Jurys Ballsbridge Hotel due to the 330 players that had made it into the final round and then again to the Burlington Hotel in 2007 to accommodate the 708 players.

The Irish Open has been sponsored by Paddy Power Poker, one of the largest online poker and casino sites in the United Kingdom.  Paddy Power LLC is determined to keep the event growing and they are estimating 1,000 players in the 2008 tournament.  Liam Flood is the current tournament director and both he and Paddy Power are intent on keeping the history of the tournament alive.  The pot for this year’s tournament is guaranteed to be €3 million.

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