21st of December 2008 Author: Glo Wood
It was one of those wearing-of-the-green type finals at the Ladbroke Poker Million in London this week, with a final table dominated by players from Ireland, and a big win for poker pro Marty Smyth. It was Smyth's third final table in as many years, and this time he made sure he took the main $1 million prize after a heads up against fellow Irishman and Internet young gun Eoghan O'Dea.
Smyth was halfway down the chip leaderboard when final table play commenced with the chip lead held jointly by Gaelic duo Ciaran O'Leary and Eoghan O'Dea on 339 000. Other players around the table were Liam Flood, Brit Kevin Allen and Svein Petter Nielsen from Norway.
Ladbrokes Poker md Edward Ihre was absolutely right when he predicted that this lineup would make for an excellent final. "Who knows what happens when you get two 'Poker Million' veterans, a couple of WSOP Bracelet holders, an internet champ who's running hot and a couple of freeroll qualifiers/" he asked. "This will be a poker game at its most extreme!"
There were big expectations of young Eoghan O'Dea, the son of WSOP bracelet holder Donnacha O'Dea, who came to the Ladbrokes Million fresh from winning $315 000 in iPoker's European Championship of Online Poker . It looked as if these might be realised as two-time final tabler Smyth was knocked down to only 15 000 chips and almost eliminated early in the game, only to come back strongly and fight his way into the heads up against the young Irish gun.
In the end, O'Dea had to be content with a second place worth $260 000 as the resurgent Smyth won the event to pocket the main prize of a million dollars.
"I still can't quite believe it," said Smyth, who plays as a pro for Boyle Poker. "I thought I was gone when I lost most of my chips early in the tournament. To come back and win $1 million is probably the highlight of my career. It just shows it's never over until it's over."
Making it a clean Irish sweep among the top four prizes were third placed Ciaran O'Leary who collected a cheque for $175 000, and Liam Flood who finished fourth for a well earned $130 000 payday.
The win brings Smyth's career winnings to almost $4 million.
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