The Irish Open, Europe’s oldest poker tournament, reached a dramatic conclusion in Dublin over the Easter Weekend, when two Sole Survivors fought it out heads-up for the title. The Sole Survivor promotion is open to all players who qualify for the tournament through a paddypowerpoker .com satellite, with the last Sole Survivor standing receiving a â‚¬500k package of tournament buy-ins and cash on top of their regular prize money.
This was music to the ears of Dave Pollock and Patrick Clarke, both paddypowerpoker qualifiers, who faced each other across the felt heads-up for the Irish Championship and were hoping to join the long list of great players who had topped this prestigious poker tournament – the likes of Noel Furlong, Liam Flood, Joe Beevers, Marty Smyth, Neil Channing and James Mitchell. Paddy Power has been running this promo for a number of years, but this is the first time it had been two Sole Survivors duking it out for first place. Each player had outlasted 409 others to reach this point and both were fighting for a â‚¬200k prize pool, as well as the extra â‚¬500k from the Sole Survivor promo.
It was a fitting final, too. Beyond the craic and the Guinness and the banter, beyond the joy and the bad beats and the heartache, Ireland’s top tournament had been whittled down to two top players – Pollock had enjoyed the dominant chip lead for the late stage of the tournament, while Clarke had steamrolled the final table, knocking out six of the seven players who had already been dispatched to the rail.
The final table had been placed inside a boxing ring for effect, and Clarke came out like a prize fighter – a raging bull – while Pollock sat back on the ropes, happy to soak up the pressure and last the distance. Clarke wreaked havoc in ring, although he did get hit in the face by the deck a few times. He took the chip lead when he busted Antoine Smits in ninth place with Q-Q over 10-10, and soon after eliminated Jonathan Lundy with A-A to LundyÂ´s A-K. Then he cracked Barry Donovan’s kings with a flopped set of tens, before dispatching a short-stacked Michael Gilligan in sixth. And so, one by one, they hit the canvas, until the two Sole Survivors faced each other for the championship.
And the end was quick – just a few hands in a raising war occurred, with Pollock piling the pressure in his opponent, who had to make a big call for the title with just top pair. It was enough to beat Pollock’s middle pair, however, and Ireland had itself a worthy new champion.
“It means the world to win this event. It’s a dream to win this event. I can’t believe it. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said an emotional Clarke. “I’ve been playing for a while but I haven’t had a big, massive score like this before, so this will maybe put me on the map a wee bit more. I felt it was coming for a long time, a lot of people had said before to me that it was going to happen, so I’m just glad it did on the big stage here.”