50 Days & 50 Nights: Slowrolls, Stolen Phones and Less Hal Time

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Niall Farrell hasn't found success at the 2018 WSOP - but it's still early.

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 chronicles Farrell’s summer; the highs and the lows and all the stuff that happens in between.

Here’s how the opening two weeks of the 2018 World Series of Poker has gone for Niall Farrell. He’s cashed once – for $1,096, been knocked out of $110,000 worth of poker tournaments by Justin Bonomo (before the money bubble), woke up with a horse screensaver on what he thought was his phone, and is now banned from drinking any booze.

Despite all of this, spirits (his, not the ones that come in a glass) are still quite high.

His WSOP started with the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty where he picked up a couple of bounties but busted before the bubble. Next up was the $100,000 High Roller, an event he initially had no intention of playing.

“Then I saw the field, it was pretty good, so I got in. I got up to 100 bigs but then ran into Bonomo – that’s becoming kind of a theme,” said Farrell. “The $100K was going really well, I sat down and was just winning every hand and then I got it in with kings to Bonomo’s king-five suited on a jack-eight-four flop for like 2.5 starting stacks and promptly lost.”

“When someone’s on that kind of a heater, it feels kind of inevitable, you see their hand and you’re like ‘oh, for god’s sake’. It just feels like that because they’re doing so well at the moment,” said Farrell.

A few days later, Farrell played the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship event.

“The very first round I got to play with Bill Klein and he had me in stitches the whole time. He’s a really funny guy, really nice guy,” said Farrell, who beat Klein and then Adam Greenberg to advance to a matchup with one of his summer roommates, Michael Gagliano.

Before the match, Farrell and Gagliano swapped a bit of action. During the match, they traded a bit of friendly banter.

“We were just shit-talking each other a lot and he was folding a lot, and he was like 75% correct to be making these folds. We were just needling each other. It was just fun because although it’s a serious tournament, one of us was going to win anyways and we’re both playing. I had some good fun with it,” said Farrell.

As the match continued, another one of their roommates, Daniel Strelitz, walked over to check in on the match. He had just bagged chips in another tournament and was headed back to the house. Farrell asked him to wait so he could drove everybody home. His timing couldn’t have been better and set up a perfect spot for Farrell to inflict max pain on Gagliano.

“He was down to about 15 bigs and shoved. I looked down at one ace and I almost went ‘Oh wow, this is a good one. I think this is going to be it.’ Then I looked down at the other ace and I actually stopped before I said anything, and I was like ‘Oh, can I have a count, please? This is going to be pretty close’,” said Farrell. “I said to Daniel ‘This might be it, it’s pretty close,’ and I thought that would give it away because I would never have called him over if I wasn’t slowrolling to be honest. I got the count again and I said ‘Okay, call’ and Gags turned his hand over and he had jack-ten and I said ‘Oh, how is it such a dirty flip? It’s so absurd’, and then he looked kind of happy. I turned over aces and he just burst out laughing. It was too perfect of a spot not to do it.”

All kidding aside, Farrell eliminated Gagliano and then found himself heads-up against, you guessed it, Bonomo, in the next round. That was the end of the road for Farrell as Bonomo continued his hot streak and went on to win the bracelet.

“He’s on a Fedor heater now. I seem to always run into that. I ran into Fedor on his heater as well in 2016 and just winning any hands against him was pretty tough at that point,” said Farrell, who finished just outside the money.

We Need to Talk About Hal

Everybody … meet Hal. He already knows you. (Kevin Mathers photo)

While it might seem like he’s seen a lot of Bonomo through the first two weeks of the 2018 WSOP, Farrell has also seen a lot of Hal.

Who the hell is Hal?

Hal is the friendly and popular bartender who works the temporary bar set up in the hallway that connects all of the tournament rooms. Over his eight years coming to the WSOP, Farrell has gotten to be quite friendly with Hal.

“The absolute highlight of your summer every year is seeing Hal,” said Farrell.

After Farrell busted the One Drop High Roller in a “ridiculous spot” last summer, Farrell was walking to get a cab home when he ran into Hal.

“Hal sees me, and I’m pretty tilted, and he’s like ‘Niall, how are you my man?’ and I said ‘Not great Hal, just busted the $100K in a weird spot,’ and he says ‘Oh, well I haven’t got the bar set up yet, but come with me’,” said Farrell. “He takes me through the back doors of the Rio, where the Brasilia room is, to this secret bar and just gives me a free beer. That’s an absolute legend of a guy.”

“I’m currently on a self-imposed Hal ban and alcohol ban,” said Farrell.

How’d We Get Here? (No, Seriously .. How Did We Get Here?)

Farrell woke up one morning, feeling the effects of a night of drinking. The events of the next 24 hours convinced him that maybe he needed to put himself in the penalty box for a bit.

“I woke up and my phone was lying in my bed and I pressed it to see if it still had any charge and it had a horse screensaver. I was like ‘oh, this just isn’t my phone, is it?’,” said Farrell. “Okay, we’ve got a 1% chance I’ve just changed my screensaver to a horse for some reason. I tried to put my code in and it obviously just bricks off and I’m like ‘ugh’. At this point I’m thinking someone’s got my phone, I’ve got their phone.”

Farrell actually found his phone a few minutes later in the jeans he had worn the night before. But wait – whose phone had the horse on it?

“I did some detective work with messages on my phone and stuff and managed to find out it was some Australian girl’s that we’d met the night before,” said Farrell, who then tracked her down on Facebook and made plans to get her the phone back. “It’s the least I can do since I now apparently steal phones. So I gave her the phone and I sat down and said ‘Okay, I’m taking a couple of weeks off drinking’.”

“To be fair to me, the girls were like ‘We don’t remember much,’ so it wasn’t
all my fault,” joked Farrell.

It’s Still Early – Patience is a Virtue

Despite the rough start, Farrell’s understands that variance can sometimes be a cruel temptress.

“I’ve had stacks in everything. I bubbled the $10K Heads Up, I lost the $3K shootout heads up, I had a lot of chips in the $10K Turbo, I got it in good for 2.5 stacks in the $100K, I lost a 250 big blind pot to Qui Nguyen in the $1,500,” Farrell said. “Every bullet in the $1,500 I had 30K from 7K. I’ve been building stacks and just been dealt out a lot of the time. Confidence is fine, it’s still early. It’s not like I’m just sitting down to a starting stack and playing badly and blinding out. I’ve been pretty unfortunate so far – confidence is still high.”

“I’m a pretty confident person, so it’s going to take a lot more than that.”