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'I'm Not A Party Animal, I'm A Poker Animal' - Alan Smurfit wins Event 33
It was mind-numbingly slow. For three hours, both players took turns losing and doubling up, losing and doubling up, playing over 200 hands in heads-up alone. At least three times during heads-up play the chip counts rounded out evenly and the players were back at square one.
Alan finally took the table down with jacks and eights.
I intercepted Alan as he was being congratulated by J.J. Liu, and he was as pleasant as his Smurfish name might suggest. Here's his two cents about the evening:
Well sir, you just played in quite possibly the longest Omaha Pot-Limit heads-up round ever. What was it like?
It was incredibly hard but very exciting - the outcome was always in doubt. It was backwards and forwards. It was like a long five-set tennis match. Obviously I got lucky in the end, and I went in with the best hand on the flop. He out-drew me on the turn, and on the river, I made it after nine hours. We started at two, and we didn't even take a dinner break. No dinner for us. We're dashing off for dinner now!
Was there any time during the night when you just though to yourself, this is going on way too long, I have to take a risk?
I've got to admit to you - many times. I was just thinking to myself, oh my god, this guy won't lie down. I had him a few times, then he had me a few times, and you know, went backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards - incredibly, incredibly tough match.
Do you think it was because of your playing styles?
I think we were well-matched, evenly matched, and it was always the cards that were going to decide. I tried very very hard not to make a mistake, and I made a couple - a few, not too many - he made a few, again, not too many, and in the end, I mean, well I had him earlier on when I had top straight and he was all-in. I had him there. I forgot what happened but then he hit something on the turn or river. But I worked my way back up. And here I am now!
So many times, you felt like you had him, but then you didn't.
Well, there were a couple of times when I felt like he had me. I'd think to myself, I can't get out of this. But then I'd struggle on, and the cards came through for me.
So this is your first bracelet.
Yes, it's my first bracelet. It's not my first win though - I've had three wins in the U.K.
What's different about winning at the World Series?
Well, it hasn't really sunk in yet. (Laughs.) I don't really know! Let's see what happens. I came here representing a very big company in the United Kingdom, and they've given me a lot of support in my efforts, and I'm pleased to have done well for them.
I'm sure they're happy for you too!
I'm sure they are.
I see you have quite the entourage here. (J.J. Liu, and a few other very happy poker players are waiting for Alan behind me.) Are you guys gonna go out and….party?
(Laughs.) Well I'm not a party animal! I'm a poker animal. (Laughs.) But we'll certainly go out for a nice bottle of wine and a late dinner. And that's the plan.
I always ask the younger kids this - do you think you'll buy anything fancy?
Um, no, not at all. I'm a relatively well-off individual, so it's not like, you know.
It's not like a 22-year-old winning half a million bucks.
Exactly. I'm a retired person, and I'd describe myself as well-off. I'm very comfortable. Poker is my hobby. I'm not a professional.
And I understand golf is a hobby of yours as well. So last question: Poker or Golf?
Well, definitely poker!
At least for tonight it has to be! Thank you so much, and congratulations, Mr. Smurfit.
* * * * * * * * * * *
And with that, the charming Smurfit turned to his friends and they headed off somewhere to drink a really nice bottle of wine. We will not forget him, the victor of a never-ending heads-up Omaha battle. The past three hours have permanently emblazoned an image of Alan Smurfit crouched over an ever-changing stack of poker chips.
Good luck to Alan and all his hobby-horse adventures. Bon Apetit.