Elena's UKIPT Dublin Adventures
After kicking off 2014 in the Bahamas with a super fantastic experience at PCA, I was excited to organize another poker trip as soon as possible.
Whenever I get back to the States, I start going stir-crazy with the insufficient online poker options and sparse live tournament schedules. So when I learned that UKIPT Dublin was right around the corner, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for another poker getaway!
The UK & Ireland Poker Tour first caught my attention when the broadcasts began airing online on Pokerstars.tv, and it immediately became my one of my favorite poker shows. I will confess I have a slightly compulsive habit of watching any televised poker program, no matter how terrible it is, but the UKIPT episodes had a unique and special quality. They featured amateur players right alongside the well-known pros, and they had sophisticated production and commentary on par with EPT broadcasts. I particularly enjoyed Liv Boeree's strategy analysis alongside the often bizarre and hilarious commentary by Nick Wealthall. I was envious that my neighbors across the pond got to play all these big sexy local tournaments for relatively low buy-ins, and I hoped I'd be able to jump into a UKIPT myself one day.
When I visited my boyfriend Mickey in London in 2012, we took a trip to Nottingham, where I had my first chance to experience a UKIPT in the flesh. Although, sadly at that point, the UKIPT was no longer being televised, the tournament still lived up to all my expectations. UKIPT Nottingham was one of the largest tournaments ever to be held in England, yet it was so well organized that it went off without a hitch. Many well-known UK pros were in the field, and my British tablemates were friendly and welcoming, bantering with each other over midday pints of beer just like I'd seen on TV. I felt more comfortable than I had in any other live setting, and on Day 2, I managed to squeak into the money for my first live tournament cash, further solidifying my enduring UKIPT devotion!
For UKIPT Dublin this year, we planned to arrive a couple days early, so we'd have a chance to explore the city. The tournament venue was a lovely historic hall right in the center of town called the Mansion House, and the location was perfect. Situated between Trinity College and the city park St. Stephen's Green, the whole area was filled with bustling shopping streets, restaurants, and traditional Irish pubs. A cozy underground wine bar called La Cave quickly became our favorite spot to duck in to escape the frequent rainstorms. Dublin lived up to its reputation for stormy weather, but it was still one of the most charming cities I've had the pleasure of visiting.
After a couple days of vacationing in Dublin, I was super jazzed to play some poker. The tournament room was filled to capacity on Day 1B of the €770 Main Event, and although my table was not quite as festive as the one at UKIPT Nottingham, I was glad to notice that at least the chap across from me was nursing an early pint!
I got off to a good start early in the tournament, and the table started to loosen up and become more social as the levels progressed. I began conversing with the player to my left, Sin Melin, who I found out was a Full Tilt Ambassador for the UK. It is fantastic to meet female players who are traveling the live circuit and actively raising the profile of women in the game. Women are still a huge minority in poker, and it is understandable that it can be intimidating for a woman to put herself into an environment that is 95 percent male. This is why female representatives in poker are so incredibly important, because each one helps encourage more and more women to feel more comfortable venturing into the poker arena. For me, it was inspiring to meet a cool, down-to-earth gal who plays poker full time and has had success on the UK circuit, and experiences like these motivate me to continue to play as many live events as I can.
Unfortunately, the luck of the Irish was not with me at UKIPT Dublin, and I was knocked out shortly before dinner in a flush-over-flush situation. I figure at least it's better to bust out right before the dinner break than right after the dinner break! Mickey had already busted earlier in the afternoon, so we took the opportunity to go out for a fancy dinner, complete with plenty of champagne.
The next day, Mickey was playing the €2,200 High Roller, so I did some more sightseeing and met up with friends for dinner. My friend Linda is a veteran of the Dublin club scene, so she accompanied me to the PokerStars Player Party at Café En Seine (yep, pronounced "insane"). The multi-level venue was hip and packed, and we arrived just in time to secure a round of free drinks from the open bar before it turned into a pumpkin. We ran into Dale Philip of Team Online, who was trying to avoid an awkward Tinder blind date (you kids these days)!
Mickey missed most of the festivities, as he was keeping busy at the final table of the High Roller, but he eventually joined us after taking third place for €9,900! We all stayed awhile and partied with some awesome players and made some fun, new friends. Overall, my experience in Dublin was amazing, and the next day we returned to London where many more online and live poker antics would await.
To be continued...