McSweeney uncorks win at Irish Poker Festival

chips and cards

Killarney, Ireland saw an influx of poker players Oct. 2-5 as some of the top players from around Ireland showed up for Ladbrokes Irish Poker Festival. The main event lured a capacity-busting 832 entrants to create a €416,000 prize pool.

Despite the likes of Ladbrokes Poker pro Roy Brindley and Pot-Limit Omaha World Champion Marty Smyth being in the mix, it was Jimmy McSweeney from Cork, Ireland, who took home the win.

He had plenty of competition as well. Earlier in the week the capacity for the €550 main event of the Irish Poker Festival was raised from 625 to 750 when organizers realized how popular the event was going to be.

Ultimately they ended up accommodating 832 players, which is a record for a European ranking event.

"We're absolutely delighted with the turnout and would like to thank all the players who made this festival such a success," said Bryan Coleman, Ladbrokes Irish territory manager.

"Our heartiest congratulations go to Jimmy, who is a worthy champion, and we're sure we'll be hearing more of him in the future."


McSweeney has seen moderate success in other poker tournaments in Ireland as well. In 2006 he cashed in an Irish Classics event, and in 2007 he made the final tables of three events in the Irish Classic Poker Festival.

One of those final tables he turned into a win as well, for €8,450. That was his biggest win up until this Ladbrokes Irish Poker Festival main event, where he picked up €100,000 for his efforts.

It was a hard-fought win as it took three days for the tournament to work its way down to a winner. After long hours of poker, the eight who made it to the final table and their chip counts were:

  • Seat1: Jimmy McSweeney, 2,900,000
  • Seat 2: Steve Johnson, 900,000
  • Seat 3: Nick Heather, 1,700,000
  • Seat 4: Hugh Whelan, 700,000
  • Seat 5: Ian Smith, 720,000
  • Seat 6: Barry Hand, 1,000,000
  • Seat 7: Bo Ericshen, 2,200,000
  • Seat 8: Andrew Roberts, 2,600,000

Barry Hand was the first to leave an empty chair at the table. He raised McSweeney's $180,000 bet to $500,000. McSweeney pushed back with an all-in, and Hand called with A-K against McSweeney's pocket tens.

The flop brought an ace for Hand, but when a ten fell on the river, McSweeney scooped the chips, and Hand was out.

Steve Johnson was the next out after moving all-in from the button and getting called by both blinds. The other two players checked it down, and in the end the big blind showed a straight and Johnson mucked his hand.

Sixth place went to Ian Smith after he went head to head against Hugh Whelan. The two saw a flop of T-6-3, and Smith reraised all-in. Whelan called with top two pair and Smith showed A-J. An ace on the turn gave Smith some hope, but a five on the river sent him packing.

A short-stacked Nick Heather was the next to make a move. He pushed all-in over the top of McSweeney's opening raise. When McSweeney made the call, his A-J was ahead of Heather's Q-J. The board couldn't help Heather out, and he was done in fifth place.

Whelan had miraculously made the final table after recovering from having just one ante four tables out from the top eight players, but he couldn't turn that recovery into a win. Fourth place was where he stopped after his pocket threes ran into Andrew Roberts' pocket jacks and couldn't improve on the board.

Roberts was ready to play some more soon after, raising once again and getting a flat-call from McSweeney. However, Bo Ericshen raised all-in with $2,200,000 in chips, and Roberts decided to step aside as McSweeney made the call.

McSweeney flipped up pocket nines to top Ericshen's pocket eights. The board came Q-J-J-7-7 to give McSweeney the hand.

McSweeney was well in the lead when he and Roberts began heads-up play. Then it came down to McSweeney calling an all-in from Roberts with pocket sixes, and Roberts showed A-9.

The board came K-Q-Q-2-J, allowing McSweeney's pair to hold up and giving Roberts the second-place seat.

The payouts for the final table were as follows:

Place Name Prize
1st Jimmy McSweeney €100,000
2nd Andrew Roberts €65,000
3rd Bo Ericshen €35,000
4th Hugh Whelan €25,000
5th Nick Heather €20,000
6th Ian Smith €15,000
7th Steve Johnson €12,000
8th Barry Hand €10,000

The event was filmed for documentary broadcast on Irish terrestrial TV station TG4 and for subsequent distribution to networks around the world.

A Web stream of the footage will also be available at Ladbrokes Poker.

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