Irish Open Main Event Breaks Entry Record, Obliterates Guarantee and Crowns a New Champion

Home » Irish Open Main Event Breaks Entry Record, Obliterates Guarantee and Crowns a New Champion
Tero Laurila

A massive field of 3,233 entries assembled at the Royal Dublin Society for the 2024 Irish Open €1,150 Main Event, partly thanks to sponsors PokerStars and Paddy Power Poker, setting a new record for the Irish Open and absolutely smashing the guaranteed prize pool of €1,000,000 by creating a prize pool of €3,152,175.

However, as with any other tournament, only one person could be left standing at the end. After four long days of poker action, it was Day 3 chipleader Tero Laurila who won the iconic Irish Open trophy and took home €292,685 after a three-way deal.

Laurila defeated Ireland’s Hiep Ninh after a relatively short heads-up battle, as the blinds had been reduced from 60 to 20 minutes after the deal. Ninh, who plays almost exclusively in Dublin, took home the larger sum of €335,636 for his efforts due to having a massive chip lead when the deal was made. The final person involved in the deal was the 21-year-old Mark Johnston, who is just dipping his toes in the waters of professional poker and walked away with €232,685 for third place.

Hiep Ninh
Hiep Ninh

Laurila is a full-time travelling poker player from Finland who has been playing for nearly 20 years. He mostly plays Omaha cash games, however, he has plenty of tournament experience as well, making the final table of the WCOOP Main Event in 2006 and more recently winning a main event in Barcelona for his biggest-ever live score until today.

“I almost passed out,” Laurila said in an interview with Irish Open host Laura Cornelius when asked about his feelings after the win, “with all the stress coming out of my body and mind.” Laurila had a big Finnish rail, with which he is sure to have a few beverages to celebrate his historic victory as the first-ever Finnish winner of the Irish Open. “I’ve got four and a half hours of sleep two to three nights in a row, but of course [I’m going to celebrate] something with the guys.”

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Also on the final table were WSOPC ring winner Georgios Tsouloftas (4th – €142,760), long-time Irish Open regular Oliver Boyce (5th – €109,820), and Spanish grinder David Tous (9th – €38,420).

€1,150 Irish Open Main Event Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Tero Laurila Finland €292,685*
2 Hiep Ninh Ireland €335,636*
3 Mark Johnston United Kingdom €232,685*
4 Georgios Tsouloftas Cyprus €142,760
5 Oliver Boyce Ireland €109,820
6 Stephen Groom United Kingdom €84,480
7 Vidmantas Beliauskas Lithuania €64,960
8 Adrian Thorne Ireland €49,960
9 David Tous Spain €38,420

* denotes three-way deal

Day 4 action

However, before the final table was reached, the day started with 14 hopefuls returning for the final day, of which five needed to be disposed of before the final table was reached. First to go was the very short-stacked Aidan Quinlan, who lost a flip to bust. Irish poker legend Padraig Parkinson was next in line, as he jammed his top pair into the slow-played aces of Georgios Tsouloftas. Last American standing Brian Moore also fell to aces in 12th place, when he went all-in preflop with ace-five suited and ran into them.

Robert Shanley started the day near the bottom of the leaderboard, but he managed to make a few pay jumps until he finally fell with four big blinds remaining. Less than two hours after the start of Day 4, online qualifier Konstantinos Vatseris got his final two big blinds in from the big blind and lost the subsequent all-in to become the unfortunate final table bubble.

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Konstantinos Vatseris
Konstantinos Vatseris

Tous started the final table with a big stack, coming in as second in chips. However, in one of the first hand of the final tables, he triple-barrel bluffed into the nut flush of Johnston and lost the majority of his stack to give the latter the chip lead. Not much later, he was the first to depart the final table after losing a preflop confrontation against Ninh.

Adrian Thorne then followed in the footsteps of Moore by shoving all in preflop with ace-five suited against a monster. He could not win against Tsouloftas’ ace-king and exited in eighth place. Johnston then scored his second knock-out of the final table by eliminating Vidmantas Beliauskas in a flip, after which Stephen Groom jammed his jacks into Laurila’s queens to bust in sixth.

Boyce, who claimed to have been playing the Irish Open for 20 years, saw his deepest Main Event run ever come to an end in fifth place when he raised all in with a straight draw and did not hit against Ninh’s top pair. Four-handed play saw Tsouloftas lose almost every pot he played until Ninh finally put the final nail in his coffin when his top pair held against the Cypriot’s straight draw.

Georgios Tsouloftas
Georgios Tsouloftas

Deal Discussions and Three-Handed Play

The tournament was immediately paused after Tsouloftas’ elimination as the three remaining players started an intense deal negotiation. After half an hour, they agreed to each take home a set sum of money while leaving €25,000 for the second and €60,000 for the eventual champion. Ninh, who had a massive chip lead at that point, was guaranteed to take home the biggest prize, while Laurila and Johnston were even in chips and chopped up the rest of the prize pool.

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After play resumed, Ninh kept building his lead until he jammed his sixes into Laurila’s tens. Laurila held and doubled up to take over the chip lead from Ninh. Johnston was left as the only short stack as a result, and when he jammed 15 big blinds with pocket nines he lost a flip against Ninh and finished in third. Thankfully for him, he took home a heavy bag of cash thanks to the deal, a warm welcome for a relatively new professional like himself.

Mark Johnston
Mark Johnston

Ninh started the heads up with a slight chip advantage, but that soon changed when Laurila made an insane hero call with queen-high to take a two-to-one lead. Not much later, he finished the job in style when Ninh jammed in his final 10 big blinds with eight-seven and Laurila made quads with his queen-jack.

With the victory secured, Laurila celebrated enthusiastically with his Finnish rail as he was awarded the trophy and the title of Irish Open Main Event Champion.

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