There were no mainland British bracelet winners this year, but Belfast-born Marty Smyth captured the PLO Championship
You’ve been racking up big results for the past couple of years, but were you more of an online player prior to that?
MARTY SMYTH: When I started playing six or seven years ago, I’d play the odd rebuy tournament, but I started taking poker a bit more seriously when I starting playing on the internet. For the first few years I just played cash games online; at first I saw it as a hobby, but after a few months I was doing really well. I never thought I’d do it for a living, but I was making more money than I would have been in any job so I decided to give it a go for a couple of years and see how it went. It’s just got bigger and bigger ever since.
PP: What were you doing right to instantly get good results online?
MS: I think I was pretty lucky that I got into it when I did – I had a bit of a head start on other people. I was playing online at Ladbrokes and the games were really easy back then. It was mostly just UK players and most of them were probably just sports bettors having a bit of a flutter, so I built up a big bankroll pretty quickly.
PP: Did you receive your live tournament induction in Dublin?
MS: I’ve always played home games with friends but started getting more interested when I discovered a casino in Dublin and started playing Omaha and Hold’em. About 10 of us used to go there every couple of weeks, play the Friday night tournament, and then go out on the beer. But back then it was just a social thing.
PP: It must have been extra special winning the bracelet for an Omaha tournament with Ireland’s history of the game…
MS: It was and it’s right up there with winning the Irish Open. At 381 players, it’s quite a small field, but very select. There was no dead money like in some of the other WSOP events.
PP: Was the journey to the final table smooth?
MS: It was pretty much as smooth as it could have been. At one point I was short- stacked, down to about half the average, but I doubled through pretty quickly to get me back in my comfort zone again. I seemed to get moved every hour on the second day, so once we got to the final, I’d played with nearly every player there.
PP: Joined by fellow Irishman Tom Hanlon at the final table, you had a lot of fans cheering for you both.
MS: I don’t think the atmosphere would have been as good if we’d have made it heads-up, as they wouldn’t have cared who won.
PP: Does it add to the pressure knowing everyone has such high expectations of you?
MS: It makes it more stressful because there is more pressure, but it certainly makes it more enjoyable. I had a far better time because everyone was there. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it was probably the best day of my life because of the atmosphere and the guys cheering me on.
PP: Did it feel better than winning the Irish Open?
MS: It actually did. As I got to the final table, I thought, ‘Even if I win, it won’t be better,’ but it was much bigger.
PP: Did the enormity of winning the bracelet sink in immediately?
MS: It did, but I didn’t realise how big it was until after. I haven’t seen the bracelet since about half an hour after I won it. I knew I was going to get pretty drunk so I gave it to Paddy O’Connor and it’s been in his safe ever since.
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