PokerStars Festival Dublin: Final table decided after nine-handed grind ends

The PokerStars Festival Dublin Main Event has reached its final table. There were 544 entries (that's 396 unique players, plus 148 re-entries) but only eight players are now left.

This is where the lion's share of the €700,000 prize pool is carved into its biggest portions, and there's a pride of big cats waiting to be fed.

This is not a particularly diverse field, it must be said. Three countries are represented: Italy, Great Britain and, of course, Ireland. There are five players from the home country at this final table, with the unstoppable Gary McGinty still leading the way.

He has a chip lead that you might be tempted to describe as unassailable. But anyone involved in the world of tournament poker will tell you that there's no such thing. During nine-handed play, Sean Prendiville took a 500,000-chip pot from McGinty, for example, with nothing more than a pair of fours, and built a stack of his own that could challenge the leader.


Nine handed play in Dublin

That was an interesting hand, actually: McGinty raised his button and Prendiville called in the big blind. The dealer put the Q♠3♦Q♣ on the flop and Prendiville check-called McGinty's 80,000 continuation bet.

The K♣ hit the turn and Prendiville checked again. McGinty bet again, 180,000, and Prendiville called. The 9♦ completed the board and Prendiville checked for a third time.

McGinty asked to see Prendiville's stack, but then checked behind. Prediville turned over 4♦4♠ and McGinty sigh-mucked. He couldn't beat the small pocket pair, but belatedly seemed to think he might have had a stab.

Those kind of pots don't significantly dent McGinty, who still had around 5 million, but they're valuable for anyone in the chasing pack. It put Prendiville into second overall, with about 2.6 million at that point, and gave him some wiggle room as the other players stayed under threat.


Sean Prendiville: Predator in second

There was actually a lot more going on during a long nine-handed battle than the sporadic live updates might have you believe. James O'Callaghan was the short stack for a long time, but he was playing an interesting game, alternating shoving pre-flop (most of which were getting through) with calling raises pre-flop and then jamming the flop--the old stop-and-go.

On one such occasion, O'Callaghan was in a three-way pot with both McGinty and Prendiville (McGinty opened to 100,000 and the other two called) and then the flop came J♠Q♠K♦. Prendiville bet, O'Callaghan jammed and, after McGinty folded, Prendiville called the extra.

Prendiville had K♣Q♦ to O'Callaghan's K♠Q♥. They chopped it up.

"Did I disappoint you?" O'Callaghan said to Ivan Tononi, to his left, who had been praying for an elimination to get them to eight.

Actually the pressure was really mostly showing on Alex Bretherton, the lone British player left in the last nine. He was opening a few pots, but was frequently three-bet by Antonio Merone, to his left. He folded at least three hands to his Italian nemesis.

And not long after, O'Callaghan jammed for 880,000 into Bretherton's big blind and Bretherton called with pocket tens. The bad news for Bretherton, and the brilliant news for O'Calllaghan, was that the latter had aces. There was an ace on the flop and O'Callaghan doubled into contention, leaving Bretherton with one of the short stacks.


Patrick O'Callaghan: Short-stack survival

Another was with Noel McMahon, and shortly after a 10-minute break, McMahon, who had been quiet during nine-handed play, open-pushed for his last 320,000 chips. Prendiville, who still had heaps, called from one seat to his left, and this was looking like the decisive hand.

Prendiville's K♣T♣ was better than McMahon's Q♠8♥. But then the dealer put the 9♦3♠Q♥ on the flop and the queen gave McMahon top pair. But then the J♥ on the turn hit Prendiville's middle-pin straight draw and McMahon stood up to bid farewell.


Noel McMahon: Heading home in ninth

So here's how they line up as play gets under way in the final phase of this event:

Seat 1: James O'Callaghan (Ireland) - 1.775 million
Seat 2: Ivan Tononi (Italy) - 525,000
Seat 3: Mick Graydon (Ireland) - 1.220 million
Seat 4: Gary McGinty (Ireland) - 5 million
Seat 5: Sean Prendiville (Ireland) - 3.325 million
Seat 6: Alex Bretherton (UK) - 775,000
Seat 7: Antonio Merone (Italy) - 1.635 million
Seat 8: Declan Connolly (Ireland) - 2.015 million

And here's a reminder of what they're all playing for:

1  €130,410
2  €81,750
3  €58,530
4  €45,630
5  €35,780
6  €28,110
7  €20,980
8  €14,530

We are presently in Level 27, where blinds are 30,000/60,000 (ante 10,000) and levels are one-hour long. There's still a lot of play in this final. Stick around.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Live Poker