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A total of 2,491 entrants had created quite the stir at the Royal Dublin Society, yielding an Irish Open record attendance and a top prize of €365,000 ($400,000). David Docherty claimed victory in the event, which was sponsored by Paddypower and broadcast as-live by PokerStars, and it was a testament to the diminutive Scot’s enduring powers at the poker felt that he did so.
The final day’s action began with 16 players, but of those, two of the most experienced of the number fell just short of the final table of eight. Steve Watts has over $900,000 in live tournament winnings after his latest cash, which saw him bank close to $30,000 when he departed in 11th place. The final table players got even luckier next when the multiple WSOP bracelet winner Benny Glaser crashed out in 10th, just two places short of the final table photographs being taken.
The chip leader heading into the final day was Moldovan player Eugeniu Barbaros, but his star has dimmed by the point that Finnish player Henri Ojala was the first player to bust the final table. Losing out in eighth place for a score of $47,500, Ojala shoved with ace-queen, but lost a coinflip when Irish hero Andy Black won with pocket eights, a jack-high board no good whatsoever for the player from Finland.
Carl Shaw, who famously beat Tony Dunst to a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2019 in a No Limit Hold’em event, was the next player to bust, departing in seventh place for $62,000. Shaw shoved from the small blind with ace-ten, and Tom Waters called with the ace-jack, having folded the same hand in the previous elimination hand where it would have hit to treble him up. This time Waters got it right and was rewarded with a jack not only on the flop but the turn too.
Andy Black wasn’t the only Irish poker legend at the final table, and his countryman Declan Rice – no, not the England footballer – had started the final table with the chip lead. Both men were happy to get it in pre-flop in an all-Ireland clash, but both men held pocket jacks. It was Black who ended up having a freeroll to the flush from turn to river, but he couldn’t hit a diamond and Rice survived the perilous situation.
The overnight chip leader Barbaros was the next player to leave. The Moldovan player had plummeted down the leaderboard by the time he shoved for 12 big blinds with pocket eights. Greek player Panagiotis Mavritsakis had the easiest of calls with pocket kings, and they held with ease through an ace-high board which saw Barbaros down to two outs by the river and on the rail with $80,000 at its conclusion.
Andy Black was the next to go, the eponymous Irishman unable to survive to the final four. It was his fellow Irishman who this time managed to eliminate him, with Black’s short-stack shove from the big blind with six-deuce punished by Rice’s ace-eight. It was a cruel run-out, too, with a flop of 9-7-6 followed not only by a queen on the turn but a deadly five on the river that gave Rice the straight and sent Black home with $104,000.
Four-handed play was the longest period at the final table without an elimination, and when it came, it was a surprise. Tom Waters led the field with six remaining and would have hoped for a memorable win. But the partypoker leader and industry expert went no further than fourth place for $136,000 when his ace-ten lost to Rice’s ace-king for a pot worth just shy of 10 million chips.
That pot gave Rice the lead after the very next hand, the Irishman’s stack of 24,975,000 marginally ahead of David Docherty (23,350,000) and the Greek player Mavritsakis (20,200,000). Those two players knew that to put themselves in with the best chance, the next bust-out was pivotal, and it was Docherty who struck the fatal blow. Mavritsakis shoved from the button with a suited queen-nine and Docherty called from the big blind with pocket tens. No paint meant no danger for the Scottish poker professional, and he vaulted into the lead, cruising up to 52.3 million chips, some way clear of Rice who had 21.1 million.
Rice went on the attack early in the heads-up battle, but after edging ahead, couldn’t see out the hand where Docherty was committed, with all the chips going in on a board of K-J-5-8-3, with the latter three cards dealt onto the board all hearts. Rice had made two pair on the turn, but that wasn’t good enough, with Docherty holding ace-king of hearts to go into a massive lead with the nut flush.
A short time later, it was all over. Rice was all-in with jack-deuce and Docherty called with king-ten. A flop of 8-6-2 have Rice the bottom pair, but after the eight paired on the turn, a six on the river meant Irish hopes were counterfeited at the last, with Docherty roaring with delight at his victory. For David Docherty, the title of Irish Open winner was his, and with it the biggest score of his professional poker career.
Photo courtesy of Danny Maxwell / PokerStars.
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