Six months ago, Niall Farrell finally slew the dragon and won his first World Series of Poker, beating out a tough field in the €25,000 High Roller at WSOP Europe. Now, the Scottish poker pro is in Las Vegas for the 2018 World Series of Poker hoping to add another bracelet to his collection. Over the course of the 2018 WSOP, 50 Days & 50 Nights will chronicle Farrell’s summer; the highs and the lows and all the stuff that happens in between.
For the past five years, Niall Farrell has always arrived in Las Vegas the day before the WSOP begins. He takes that day to get settled and take care of some of the errands that need to be run before settling in for the WSOP grind. This year was different though.
The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions was running in Las Vegas on May 24 and Farrell, who put his name on the WPT Champions Cup in 2016, wanted to play.
“For the last three years I’ve been in Vancouver for SCOOP anyways, so I can come the day before because I’m already adjusted to the time zone,” said Farrell. The TOC didn’t end with Farrell at the final table, but that doesn’t mean his confidence at the start of the Series is wavering.
“I had a winning SCOOP. I got to Vancouver and basically won the first SCOOP I played, which made the whole trip very relaxing, which was nice,” said Farrell, who won Event #3 High ($2,100 PKO No Limit Hold’em) for his second career SCOOP title. “I’ve been pretty lucky that I always do pretty well at the Series, even though it took me a little while to win a bracelet. The year before I won a bracelet I had three final tables, including the One Drop and won a bunch of money and I’m lucky enough that all my friends tend to do quite well as well, so that tends to build the confidence. I feel like I’m good to go and ready to win another one.”
As he’s done over past few years, Farrell rented a house along with a few other poker players that are all in town to chase big scores and bracelets. His choice of roommates is strategic too.
“Same people as always; it’s Michael Gagliano, Daniel Strelitz, and Brandon Shane. It’s all the American guys, none of the UK guys really,” said Farrell. “It’s a tactical thing because if I stay with the UK guys I just go out to the bar most nights. So for the last five years or so I’ve stayed with the American guys so that keeps me out of trouble a little bit.”
While Farrell was putting together his personal schedule for the summer, he referred to his notes from summer 2017 where he cashed six times. It reminded him of an important change he wanted – maybe even needed – to make.
“I’ve got my Google Calendar on my phone and in big capital letters it just says “DO NOT REGISTER THE GIANT”. So I’m going to just trust past me and not do that. So I guess I’ll take a couple days off during those events,” said Farrell, who actually cashed in The Giant for $1,343 but grew frustrated by the inability of tournament staff to keep things moving on Day 2. “You’ve got to take a couple of days off. It’s pretty easy to get burned out. If you’re doing really well it’s easier, but some summers you can just come out and start bricking off, it’s pretty easy to get burned and stop playing your best.”
Farrell’s schedule will mainly be focused on WSOP bracelet events, with the odd trip to the Venetian or Wynn to take advantage of big fields full of soft players. He’ll also stray a little bit away from his comfort zone of No Limit Hold’em to find some fun in other bracelet events.
“Yeah, pretty much all of the No Limit Hold’em events. I usually play some of the $1,500 smaller ones that I’m not very good at, like the Deuce to Seven Single Draw I always play because it’s fun. I’ll maybe play a $1,500 Omaha or something, but I’m not very good at those games, it’s more just for fun.”
Having finally won his first bracelet, Farrell has turned his focus to picking up his second, if only to give him some more ammunition for the good-natured ribbing that happens back at the house.
“It was quite a relief to get it, but we have some banter (in the house) as well. We’ll talk about it and Gagliano will be like ‘Nah, it was in Europe – it doesn’t count’ and I’ll be like ‘it was in Europe, so you know there were good players in the field, not like your bracelet’,” said Farrell. “So we have some banter back and forth. We have a bit of fun with it. It’s cool to have it, especially after getting two seconds. Now that I’ve got one, I want to try and get more.”
Adding a new piece of jewelry to his collection is what Farrell thinks it will take for him to call the 2018 WSOP a success, but that goalpost could be a moving one depending on how the first few weeks goes.
“Saying it now, I would say a bracelet but I’m sure if I get to the end of the summer and I’ve made any decent amount of money I’ll count it as successful,” said Farrell. “Start-of-the-Series-Optimism is going to say “bracelet only”, but maybe halfway through I’ll be like “let’s see if I can get out of this hole”, and that will count as successful.”