Unibet IPO hailed as poker’s triumphant return to Ireland

Live poker is back in Ireland for the first time since the start of the pandemic via the Unibet International Poker Open, and Jamie Cusack (pictured above) pocketed € 46,590 ($ 54,074) in the Main Event of the competition. [Image: Unibet Open Twitter]

Bringing poker back to Ireland

Last week, Dublin saw a triumphant return of live poker to Ireland. The Unibet International Poker Open (IPO) was the first live poker event to take place since the lockdowns began in early 2020. The festival’s € 300 ($ 348) Main Event drew 974 entries across six departing flights. , generating a prize pool of € 246,909 ($ 286,489).

Cusack was a man on a mission at the final table

The lion’s share of the booty went to Jamie Cusack, a 35-year-old personal trainer from Cork. Cusack was a man on a mission at the final table, his aggressive style paying dividends as he won the prestigious title.

The International Poker Open has been a mainstay of the Irish poker calendar since 2007, a popular festival that has always attracted a large number of recreational players. The 2020 edition, won by Ciaran Cooney, was part of Unibet’s larger “IRL to URL” campaign, a promise to deliver all the usual festivals live to their online client. Ireland lifted restrictions on large gatherings on October 22, paving the way for a “real life” IPO.

The event was hailed as a huge success by the organizers, the sponsors and especially the players. Meanwhile, across town, in the newly refurbished Sporting Emporium games room, there was new evidence of poker returning to Ireland as Padraig Parkinson welcomed the casino’s first poker players in 20 month.

20 months is like 300 years

One of the most famous Irish myths is that of Tír na nÓg and Oisín, son of the legendary Fionn Mac Cumhaill. It happens as follows:

One day while hunting, Oisín met Niamh, a beautiful young woman and the daughter of the king of Tír Na nÓg, a mystical land where no one ever gets old. He immediately fell in love with Niamh and returned with her to the “Land of Eternal Youth”, where he spent three happy years.

For many live poker players, this is what happened in March 2020 as they were forced to leave their merry hunting grounds and move into the more ethereal online arena.

According to legend, Oisín began to regret his homeland of Ireland, eager to see his friends again. He begged Niamh to let him return to Ireland, but she was reluctant because in Tír Na nÓg, time was slowed down. Three years there was the equivalent of 300 in Ireland.

The feeling of nostalgia was real.

20 months have been like 300 years for a community that loves the game. The players have felt isolated, deprived of the almost family relationships they have forged in poker. The feeling of nostalgia was real.

Niamh reluctantly agreed to let Oisín return to Ireland, but told him to take his magical white horse with him, warning him not to let his feet touch the ground.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that resulted from it have undoubtedly changed the structure of society. The re-emergence of this period has been and will continue to be gradual, but it is important that we take small steps towards normalcy. Our magical white horse is the canon of safety provisions that will minimize the risk of contagion and it was impressive to see these provisions rolled out by the organizers of the IPO.

Skin in the game

All IPO 2021 players had to produce either a vaccination certificate, a recovery certificate, or a clear PCR test. Temperature checks were carried out daily. Masks were worn in the tournament hall but could be removed at the tables. A closed croupier spin was deployed and the croupier button was a container of hand sanitizer, giving players a slight boost with every orbit.

they must have planned the event under a looming cloud of uncertainty

IPO organizers Nick O’Hara and Brian Lannon deserve a lot of credit. Not only did they have to apply the additional rules, but they also had to plan the event under a looming cloud of uncertainty. Normally the players make the game but they both put a lot of skin into the game last week, taking a chance on a festival that could only be confirmed two days before it started. Fortunately for them, it was a huge success.

VegasSlotsOnline News spoke to O’Hara who was thrilled with how the 2021 IPO was received, describing it as “a fantastic event.” He added: “We have received an impressive number of compliments from the players. They really appreciate the hard work that went into this one and after a stressful few weeks it is worth it. Huge credit is also due to Unibet who are 100% committed to my vision for this. Without their support, this would not have been possible.

Cusack claims € 46,590 in the main event

The Unibet IPO Main Event was won by Jamie Cusack who outlasted 973 other players to take home € 46,590 ($ 54,074), a huge return on his € 300 ($ 348) buy-in. The Highroller was won by Richie O’Neill who came from behind to win the trophy after a hit with Padraig Burns. O’Neill took home € 12,465 ($ 14,468) while Burns took home € 14,465 ($ 16,789). The LuxonPay Super-Highroller was won by Ivan Tononi who received € 19,310 ($ 22,413).

The event was broadcast live throughout the weekend with comments from Philip ‘The Tower’ Heald, PokerStrategy.com Editor-in-Chief Barry Carter and Unibet Ambassadors Dara O’Kearney and David Lappin. In what was a nice touch, all Unibet Poker qualifiers and Main Event finalists received a signed copy of ‘Endgame Poker Strategy’, the new book from O’Kearney and Carter, which had its official launch during the IPO.

VSO News caught up with O’Kearney after his own Main Event run:

“Unibet is proud to support Irish poker since David Lappin and I became ambassadors for their global brand. They sponsored the Irish Poker Rankings in 2018, hosted two Unibet Opens in Dublin and partnered with Nick for the IPO and the Dublin Poker Festival. So it made sense that after sponsoring the last live festival in Ireland in February 2020, we were the team to bring poker back last weekend. In a strange way, it makes it look like we had never left.

Legend has it that Oisín left Tír na nÓg and upon returning to his native land he touched Irish soil and immediately aged 300 years. In an instant, it was as if he had never left.

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