Irish Poker Open Trip Report: Part 1

Published on Apr 1st, 2008
The following is Part 1 of a three-part article written by professional poker player Alex "Assassinato" Fitzgerald.

I am not that happy to be leaving Seoul.

South Korea has become my place to decompress. Seattle always will be my hometown and a large part of who I am but Korea is now my second home. After I had a blast at the APPT Manila I decided to make the trek to Seoul for the first time back in September, hoping for a similar experience. While my tournament out there was dissapointing the first night I went out I met a great girl at one of the bars, and proceeded to spend the next few days seeing Korea with her. I was greeted with some of the most interesting food, sights, night life, and culture I had come across in my travels, and was addicted instantly.

It was like heaven to me, an entire nation of insomniacs just like myself. I could order sushi, bibimbop, chicken wings, or whatever the hell else I wanted at 3:00 AM and it would be at my door in twenty minutes. They found a way to make everything interesting. When I went to the grocery stores they blasted techno, and had petite beauties in schoolgirl outfits sell products in the other. The bars were expensive, but many looked like something out of James Bond movies, with tasteful decors and some of the best drinks I'd ever had. There was always something to do or see, and while some of the people could be assholes most had been friendly. It was like Super New York, or Las Vegas if it were tailored to my Asian fetish.

I had planned to spend another month in my little slice of paradise, but had been informed a few weeks prior by my backer that he was willing to put me into the Irish Poker Open if I was willing to get out there. Of course, any chance to play a tournament with a 3 Million Euro gurauntee is something I cannot miss, so I agreed instantly.

That isn't to say I adored the idea of returning to Dublin. Though the city has its own unique charm my first time there had been horrible. I missed connecting flights to reach Dublin, and the airline ended up losing my luggage. There was nobody who was easy money at my early tables. Young American boy wonders, calculating Swedes, and diabolical nutjob Irishmen all took turns making me look like the bitch in an Oz rerun.

I typically am a much more aggressive live player than I am online, due to how much people tighten up when they have flown to an event or put up $10,000+, but I just never found a spot to play. I had pocket Kings twice early and pretty much nothing afterward. Later on in the day when I got moved to a table with a great French player and Annette_15 to my left matters became worse. I kept raise/folding from a shortstack like an idiot, withering my stack away. When I busted early on in day two I looked back on my tournament and realized I played exactly one river, save for my bustout hand.

When I got out of the tournament area I was greeted with the unfortunate reality that is most businesses closed at around 6:00 PM on weekdays except for some restaraunts. The nerve of these bastards...wanting to see their families!

When I went to the clubs with some friends I got told I couldn't enter because I wore sandals. My whole group had to find new places to go to because of me and I felt like an ass about it.

I also felt a need to prove myself for some reason. It was my first time in a tournament with many of the real hot shots of online poker, and listening to some of them discuss hands I was convinced my self-taught form of No Limit Hold'em was lightyears behind theirs.

I just never really felt comfortable, and I was coming off of the biggest downswing I'd ever had. My bust out and subsequent dejection felt like the ending line to a long chapter of my poker career I'd rather forget, and it was set against the serene scenery that is Dublin.


I don't let myself sleep on the plane because if I do my nights and days will be mixed up, and I handle jet lag very poorly. My girlfriend sleeps next to me. I envy not only the freedom she has to sleep but also her tiny body, and how it allows her to use our ridiculously small Cattle Class airplane seat as a mattress, and my thigh as a makeshift pillow. It takes every Coke on the plane and every novel in my computer bag to keep me awake. Dead fields and brown lifeless mountains glide underneath us for hour after hour after hour.

Upon arriving I have to slap myself to stay awake, and I am quickly growing irratible. We get a cab and my girlfriend once again falls asleep, while the driver takes us out of Dublin and to god knows where.

I am reminded quickly of one of the greatest things about Ireland - the people. It is easy to understand how so many Nobel prize winning authors have been Dublin-bred. The people have a gift for interesting conversation and hilarious wordplay. They are also usually knowledgeable in whatever they do want to argue. In no time my cab driver and I are talking about everything from exchange rates to women to family to politics. For a second I am almost embarassed about how an Irish cab driver knows more about the presidential primaries in my country than many of my friends back home, but soon I am laughing again.

I get into my hotel and appreciate the size, cleanliness, and class of it, but don't appreciate the lack of a fridge or the pricetag (my dollar is currently worth slightly more than a napkin when compared to the euro).

My girlfriend walks into the bathroom and yells out "where are the sandals?" I explain to her that not all countries are like Korea and that Americans, Irish, and many other cultures are perfectly fine with putting their bare feet on bathroom tile. She looks at me like I just asked to take naked pictures of her mother.

Over the next couple days I get acquainted with the property, which is actually thirty minutes outside of downtown Dublin. I jog around the gorgeous Irish countryside, take my girlfriend into the town to see the St. Patrick's day parade, get drunk, see old castles, tour a king's lair, get drunk again, and essentially do everything I should've done the first time I came to the city. The only thing I could find to complain about is the city's cuisine, which is always expensive and rarely interesting, although there are some diamonds in the rough.

As the days go on the poker players start rolling in, and soon the lobby of the Citywest hotel stops seeing as many suits and becomes inundated with flip flops, sweatpants, and Full Tilt hats.

One of the most enjoyable parts about going to any live event is meeting the people you've played with for years online in real life.

You get a lot of relaxed yet calculating types, who despite what is lurking under the surface never let you get a glimpse.There are the passionate tiltboxes, like Zugwat and his broken monitor (which he swears is just from "wear and tear". There are the guys who impress me because, despite their accomplishments in poker, they still act very down to earth. Timex, Imperium, and Mr. Menlo come to mind, as while they have accomplished quite a bit in poker they, at least in my experience, do not act better than anyone else. There is just a quiet air of confidence to them. This is more preferable, in my opinion, to the smug and cocky attitude some successful players adopt, who unfortunately are also in attendance.

Once in a while you get to meet some fun individuals who do not seem to have been affected at all by the rigors of poker. Threeven is one of these individuals. He's just as whacky in real life as he is online, and within five minutes you can feel like you've known him your whole life. Despite my jet lag he has me dying laughing on multiple occasions, and he's just one of those guys you can talk to about seemingly anything.

Holdplz also was just a fun guy to hang out with, and despite his impressive results in his relatively short career (a second in the Million, a huge 100r win, and other tournament scores) he has no ego to speak of. He has a very positive attitude and the ability to laugh at himself, which makes him very likeable.

When I got done meeting everyone I decide to go play the 300r they had for seats into the event. Zugwat and I ended up having to hussle a loan for our buy-ins, but we made it in about twenty minutes before the event closed registration. I ended up investing 900 and playing pretty dull satellite shove/fold strategy after I got a stack to get a seat. Feeling confident I went to bed excited for day one.

* The following was Part 1 of an Irish Poker Open Trip Report submitted by professional poker player Alex "Assassinato" Fitzgerald. Part 2 -- Part 3


  1. <p>Enjoyed the article, especially the Seoul part, as I am currently in Korea and can completely relate to what you are saying. Its Mecca!!!</p>

  2. <p>Cool article and very well-written.  Fun to read :)</p>

  3. <p>A real good read. Linguistic talent-abilities are shown by Assassinato/dehubermex. I felt like I was right there.</p>

  4. <p>Very cool article. Your insightful descriptions of people, places  your train of thought, etc. always makes for a good read and I appreciate it.</p>

  5. <p>A taste for the Asian cuisine....? Before you get to locked down make sure to add Thailand,Singapore and Manilla to your appetite. All very yummy indeed! RELAX, and you will run well...guaranteed, or at least play well anyways. GL GL FT report coming up.</p>

  6. <p>Very well written artice. Honestly enjoyed reading it... Looking forward to Part II. Thanks</p>

  7. <p>fwiw, zug-town is rockin a brand new computer.</p>

  8. <p>Nice Read. Wish I had of went  up to citywest now only live 15 minutes from it.</p>

  9. <p>very nice sir</p>

  10. <p>Bro, you can flat out write.  I really enjoy reading your stuff.</p>

  11. <p>nice travelogue</p>

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