Smiling Smyth: The PLO Champ Speaks

It turned out to be a lesson well learned for the huge crowd at the ESPN final table tonight after he defeated Canadian Peter Jetten heads-up to win the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship.

PL.com and a school of other media types sat down with Smyth moments after the win to get his story.

How did you become a pro poker player and how do your friends and family feel about you choosing this as a career?

As for my friends it was a natural progression; we all played poker together through university and stuff and most of them are kind of doing it professionally or semi-professionally as well. My family at first didn't seem terribly impressed by it. I think they thought at first I was having a lucky streak for a few months and sooner or later the bottom was going to fall out of it. But after a few years I made a few investments and put some money aside and the last couple of years I've had a lot of success in tournaments and I don't think they could be happier.

There's a lot of history for Irish poker players at the Donnacha O'Dea, Padraig Parkinson. I was amazed that there even were these big Irish poker players playing in the big tournaments in Vegas. They were gods in Irish poker. There are four other Irish guys who have won bracelets at the WSOP and to be included in that group it means a lot.

It also seems whenever there are Irish poker players at a WSOP there are huge crowds supporting them. How did it feel to have all those people behind you the whole way today?

I knew there was going to be a big turnout and I was not disappointed. They were a bit quiet to start out because the poker was very [slow] to start. There wasn't a lot of action but as you can see the day was long and it built up. The Canadians were loud too; not just the Irish guys. It's hard to say who had the best supporters. I think they were all great.

Yes, it kind of took on a football match kind of feel ...

You get a bit of that when you get a lot of Irish around and all the drinks.

So I guess you'll be buying at the bar now?

I don't think I'll get away with anything else. I'll be spending a bit on booze for the next couple of days.

In the big hand heads-up where you doubled up, you flopped the full wrap. Were you surprised to see Peter get it in there with just ace-high?

Yeah, I was a bit surprised. It could have gone blank-blank and then he's going to win the bracelet with ace-high. That would be pretty sick. But his hand really wasn't that important. I knew he was going to be ahead but it didn't really matter if it was two pair or ace-high.

Is PLO really your game? Do you play a lot of cash Omaha games?

Yes, that would be my main cash game; Pot-Limit Omaha and a bit of Hold'em. Hold'em is really my main tournament game but that's probably because there are more Hold'em tournaments. I haven't really played that many Pot-Limit Omaha tournaments. I think I'm going to try and play a few more I guess [laughs].

I suppose you think people from across the Atlantic have an advantage in Omaha? At least they have a bit more experience.

That seems to be the general consensus, that Europeans are better at Pot-Limit Omaha. I don't know - probably there are more very good Pot-Limit Omaha players in Europe because the game's played more often and we've been playing it for 20 years and we're a bit more experienced.

Over here Hold'em is a bit more popular but the kids over here are playing it on the Internet all the time and the game's growing and growing. All the big games online seem to be Pot-Limit Omaha with the $100/$200 railbirds watching the game. It can only increase in popularity and with more people playing it in America it won't be long before the Europeans are overtaken.

 

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Winner of the Irish Open in 2007, Marty Smyth had very little to prove to the poker faithful on his side of the Atlantic. But he also made believers out of everybody on this side tonight and now that he's a World Champion, his is a name no one over here will soon forget.

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