Dermot Blain on FTP Sponsorship: “It’s Surreal”

Dermot Blain
Dermot Blain enjoying the 2013 WSOP.

Since quitting his job in sales, Ireland's Dermot Blain has essentially been living the poker dream.

Blain has countless cashes on the European poker circuit and two major scores – one an outright win at APPT Macau for $541,100 in 2009.

The hits keep coming for the Blain as he was signed by Full Tilt Poker as an ambassador for FTP Galway in his native land of Ireland.

Blain took a break while at Galway to talk to's Giovanni Angioni about his journey and how he feels representing one of the biggest poker brands in the world. Like Martins Adeniya, one of your fellow FTP Ambassadors, you also happened to have a proper life in place before you decided to dive into poker – am I right?

Dermot Blain: That’s right. First I studied sports and recreation and I got a degree in business studies. Then I got into sales and it started to get so weird.

PL: What’s so weird in sales?

DB: Well, when I started it was all really quiet. I thought I would be the worst person at sales ever.

Then, somehow, I just started to love it. So I got into it and after few months I was already managing 30 to 40 people.

Full Tilt UKIPT Galway Tour Ambassadors
The FTP Galway Ambassadors

PL: That doesn't sound too bad…

DB: Nowadays I can’t even believe it. When I look back at it, I am not sure I would be able to do it again.

PL: Ok, fine – but if everything was going so good, you were doing what you loved and you were even successful... why did you need to leave it all and jump into poker?

DB: You know, I started with direct sales, I got promoted to assistant manager really fast and… I kind of wanted new challenges.

I was really young, a lot of my friends were in Dublin and I wanted to go there as well.

I was kind of working 14 hours a day making good money. But I wanted something different, I wanted to move on.

PL: And, in some ways, your poker career was also quite fast – wasn’t it?

DB: Funny enough I won the first tournament I played.

I think I won something like 2K sterling, which was a lot for me. You know, back then my job paid a lot less.

Dermot Blain
Dermot Blain

PL: A lot compared to your job back then but not to other cashes you scored after that. How about your fifth place at the WSOPE Main Event in 2011?

DB: Yeah, that was probably my best achievement so far. We had a really top field there. Everyone at that final table had over a million in cashes.

Plus, it was great fun. I loved the challenge of playing against top players like Jake Cody and Patrick Antonius.

PL: And how about Macau? Somehow you won an APPT in Asia (2009) before winning in Asia was cool.

DB: Oh, that’s also quite funny, as the reason I went there was just to play some cash games, I didn’t even know the tournament was on.

PL: Oh, come on … again something happening by chance?

DB: Seriously, I had some friends there and they told me cash games were good – so I went.

The tournament was a month later and my friend wanted to go home while me, I just decided to stay and give it a shot.

I rented an apartment, got friendly with some of the locals, played a satellite for the tournament and won it.

Then I played the tournament… and I won that too.

PL: So, what’s the deal with Macau now that it became cool? Do you still play cash games there? 

DB: I still talk to some of the guys that I met there but I haven’t been back in Macau so far.

There’s so much going on in Europe already.

PL: APPT, WSOPE, some cashes at the WSOP in Vegas … everything about you says you are a “live” player more than an online one – am I right? 

DB: Yeah, I enjoy live more. Live poker is more relaxed and I like the interaction with people.

Online you can make more money because you can simply play more hands but for enjoyment live is better.

I remember when once one of my friends, Andy Mosley, went deep on a tournament in 2011 and before that he only played online. 

After he played a live tournament he came to me and told me “F**k! Now I know the buzz!”

PL: Yet, living the life on the circuit can end up being not exactly the healthiest thing ever. How do you cope with that? Any special preparation?

DB: I started going to the gym. It helps to release energies and focus my mind more on things.

Then I used to smoke and I quit. I know how hard it is to give up, especially in poker.

I remember the time I was on the laptop playing sessions one cigarette after the other. Now, thank God I managed to quit.

Dermot Blain
Dermot Blain

PL: Anything you do to be “mentally fit” for playing?

DB: No, I don’t do much. My advice is that when you're in a bad session you should just stop. Which is usually the simplest thing to say and the hardest one to do.

When you're playing poker all the time -  at some point you just keep playing not giving your mind any time to refresh.

If you keep playing, even if you play bad, you can’t process information, so it’s good just to take a break and see.

PL: What do you do then? Just stop playing?

DB: Just stop and sleep. The next day your mind will be so much brighter that you will just go “what was I thinking”?

PL: Ok, there’s a question I have been holding until now but that I need to shoot.

DB: Go ahead.

PL: Well… Since all that happened to FTP in the past, didn’t anyone just say “are you crazy!?” when you said you were about to become part of Full Tilt?

DB: Honestly, for me it all kind of moved on. Full Tilt is now partner with PokerStars, the most trusted and recognized brand in poker, and my experience has been nothing but positive.

So, if you refer at what happened in the past, Black Friday and stuff…

PL: Yeah, let’s say I do…

DB: For me it all moved on now. I can tell you that right now I am super excited.

I feel very humbled and happy for having been chosen and to represent FTP going forward.

Since I met with them back a few months ago, everything has been great.

PL: Anything special about your role as an FTP Ambassador so far?

DB: I get asked for a few pictures, which is a little bit surreal as I am normally a quiet guy.

Usually I just come to do my playing. Now, instead, people are coming around for pictures. And that’s… yeah, that feels still a bit surreal. 

Author: Giovanni Angioni

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