UKIPT Galway: Ireland's Emmett Mullin cruises to maiden title
At the end of day 1B at UKIPT Galway, a comment appeared on the PokerStars Blog from a user calling himself "mully". The request was fairly straightforward: "In the updates im down as being from the United Kingdom, is there any way this can be changed to Ireland?"
Blogging poker tournaments is not a precise science, so an error like this is not unusual. We quickly determined that "mully" was Emmett Mullin, a proud Irishman, who had been receiving some gibes from friends about his inadvertent change of nationality.
After meeting Mullin in person, we agreed that he could be called an Irishman in our updates, but joked that if he won, he would be English. "Aye, like Andy Murray," Mullin said.
Thing is, Emmett Mullin has now just gone and won UKIPT Galway, taking €100,000 for first place after a rapid final day on the Emerald Isle's west coast. We can't really make him English can we?
"It's unbelievable," he said, after defeating Ronan Gilligan heads up. "I've actually won a tournament as big as this, with such a tough field...It's been a bit of a drain but there's a buzz at the minute. We'll have a few drinks tonight."
Ah, the promise of a big old drink up tonight. He is an Irishman after all.
We actually began today with nine players instead of the recognised eight, the result of day three's battles lasting long into the night. That meant we needed to shed one man before we reached our official final, and no one seemed keen to burst this strange pseudo-bubble.
When it came to it, it was the Dutchman Joris Ruijs who fell. He was still licking his wounds from a massive hand against Craig Burke late yesterday, which robbed him of a dominant chip lead. His riches to rags story was complete when he took king high up against Ronan Gilligan's ace. Ruijs took €7,800 for 10th.
Once we were officially at the final, things loosened up dramatically. Richard Haile departed within the first few hands, and then it was time to say goodbye to Nick Abou Risk.
Abou Risk was sitting at the third final table of his UKIPT career, and no one had ever knocked him off one. But the run came to an end today when Mullin's A♥J♣ earned him all of Abou Risk's short stack, which the Canadian had shoved with K♠J♥.
With relatively even stacks when they went six handed, any big pot could destroy the hopes of one player and potentially send another into a commanding position. John Willoughby had a massive pile at that point, but lost some to Joe Roberts, some more to Gilligan and the rest to Aleksandras Rusinovas, the lone representative of continental Europe at the final table.
Rusinovas, though, was next out. He found a big ace at the same time that Mullin had found a bigger one. Rusinovas had also been cheered on by a rowdy group of Lithuanians on the rail, but they bellowed their last when Mullin accounted for their man in fifth.
This was the start of a remarkable surge from Mullin, who would eventually knock out everyone else on the table. Craig Burke went next, out in fourth. Joe Roberts was then despatched, after Mullin found jacks.
That brought us to heads up play between the wrecking ball, Mullin, and the immovable object, Gilligan.
Gilligan had recently finished third at the WPT stop in Dublin, slightly more than a year after he finished second there to Max Silver in a UKIPT event on season one. His results database showed only a third and a second place. Surely a first was next?
At one point it seemed nailed on. Gilligan, with a bigger stack than Mullin, flopped a straight at the same time Mullin had flopped a set. That, heads up, is a cooler, and all the money went in.
However the board paired on the river, which gave Mullin a full house, and sent his rail into raptures.
From there, the momentum was all with Mullin, and he polished off Gilligan with the minimum of fuss. The final hand was another heads up cooler. Gilligan had pocket sevens on a six-high board. But Mullin had flopped a set of threes, and that meant all the money was going in again.
Mullin managed to fade the two outs and he was champion.
It's been a splendid week in Galway, and the home crowd has a worthy champion. Assuming the United Kingdom doesn't lay claim to him, of course.
Thanks to Mickey May for her pictures throughout the festival here. All the snaps you see on PokerStars Blog retain her copyright. You can see video highlights from Galway, hosted by Nick Wealthall, at the Channel 4 poker website from next week.
That's it then. We're off to find a big pool of black stuff and dive right in.