After three days' rest following the thrilling conclusion of the European Poker Tour Grand Final in Monte Carlo, PokerListings.com is back and better than ever, reporting live over the Easter weekend from Dublin, Ireland, home of the Irish Poker Open. The "Largest Poker Tournament in Europe - Ever" kicked off today from the Burlington Hotel, and it didn't take long for at least one truth to be established: some Irish people are very, very loud.
To be fair, it was only the Tournament Director, whose insistent bellow filled the media room thanks to an overachieving loudspeaker and an admirable, if somewhat overzealous personal mantra that each and every instruction should be repeated no less than 15 times for total clarity. By the end of the night the assembled media was near-completely deafened, not to mention sent into spasms of violent rage with every deep wheezing gasp that came over the loudspeaker, mere preludes to the madness that was to follow.
Anyways, in between the hooting and the hollering, there was actually poker being played. The first cards of the 26th iteration of the Open were dealt a few minutes after 4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, with a field of 708 players narrowly eclipsing the EPT's field of 706 for the title of largest tournament in European history. (Although with the EPT's €10,000 buy-in compared to this tournament's €3,300 entry fee, the title of most lucrative tournament in European history remains in Andy Black, as well as a vast assortment of hometown Dubliners.
But the top-ranked field would soon start to see its ranks start to dwindle, as only 11 minutes and fifteen seconds into the tournament, Carlos Mortensen became the first casualty, setting a trend for the day when his pocket aces were cracked by an opponent with pocket kings. Player 2 made a flush on the river and that was it for the Matador, who left to the booming mockery of the TD, who apparently cannot let a moment pass without giving his ear-shattering opinion.
Following Mortensen were Shane "Shaniac" Schleger, Thomas Wahlroos, Tilly, Hoivold, Mel Judah, Barny Boatman, Esfandiari, and, eventually, Phil Laak, while among the first to go after the complimentary players' dinner (a starchy affair featuring a mass of turkey smothered in gravy, a glob of potato, a dinner roll and a little fruity cheesecake affair) was Erica Schoenberg, who headed back for seconds after her A-K fell to K-Q when the villain rivered the king-high straight.
At the same time, Roland De Wolfe was building his stack to epic proportions, busting cats left and right as players strived to donate their chips to his burgeoning stack. At one point, The Sheep called two all-ins from short-stacked players with A-3; his opponents turned up A-Q and K-Q, and wouldn't you know, the door card was a trey. The board bricked out for the unlucky ones, and the juggernaut kept up steam. The Englishman would be the first man to break the $100,000 barrier, and would hold the chip lead at the end of Day 1.
Speaking of three-way all-ins, David Benyamine found himself in the middle of a mega-pot near the end of the day, after finding two opponents pushing in for $33,000 and $26,000 respectively, on a board of K♠ J♦ T♠. Benyamine called with pocket jacks, while short-stack Metin Antar showed A♣ Q♦ for the flopped nut straight. The final player in the hand had A♦ K♦ for top pair and the gutterball, and though Benyamine jokingly called for the ten of diamonds on the turn, the board finished out 2♥ 3♣, knocking the Frenchman down a few notches and straight busting Player 2.
While all of this was going on, nobody but PokerListings.com noticed that Andy Black had been eliminated. Black fell to Murat Yalkin, who cracked the Dubliner's cowboys with the T♦ 8♦ when he made a diamond flush after all the money got in on the flop. Black had been struggling with the short stack for much of the day, but his elimination still took most of the fun from the tournament, especially for the partisan crowd that lined the rails for much of Day 1.
Shortly after Black's bustification, the TD got on the horn again, and that meant it was time to get up and get out or risk permanent loss of hearing. As it stands, PokerListings.com has naught but a slight ringing in the ears as we tally up the final scores from the comfort of our hotel room, but hopefully by the time the 260 survivors congregate at the felt tomorrow at 3 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, everything will be back to normal and we'll be able to bring you the Finest Live Updates in European History, and just in time for Easter. After all, poker is our religion, and if you're reading this, you're probably pretty devout yourself. See you tomorrow!