Poker in Ireland

History of Poker in Ireland

Ireland has a storied tradition when it comes to poker, and before the Scandinavians came on the scene in the early 2000’s it was the Irish players were considered the wild and unorthodox players who were willing to gamble it up. Much like the UK, Ireland has been playing poker for decades, and has produced some of poker’s biggest stars over the years, including 1999 World Series of Poker Champion Noel Furlong, one of the first, and only, true amateurs to win the WSOP.

According to Irish Historians, it was a man named Terry Rogers who brought No Limit Holdem to Ireland in the 1980’s after seeing it played during a trip to Las Vegas. Rogers formed The Eccentrics Club, which was a small group of top Irish poker players who would later take the poker world by storm in the 90’s, culminating with the 1999 WSOP win by Furlong. In addition to Furlong, two other Irish players were at the 1999 WSOP Final Table including Padraig Parkinson and George McKeever –not to mention a 14th place finish by Mickey Finn.

Since the 1990’s Ireland has only won four WSOP bracelets: Donnacha O’Dea, Noel Furlong, Ciaran O’Leary, and Marty Smyth. That said, the country has produced a number of deep finishes, and an inordinate number of Main Event final table members.

Famous Irish Poker Players

For a rather small country, Ireland has produced a number of well-known poker players, including established stars like Donnacha O’Dea, Noel Furlong, Padraig Parkinson, Andy Black, Roy Brindley, Liam Flood, and George McKeever.

In the current poker world top Irish players include players like Phil Laak, and 2011 WSOP November Niner and Irish legacy Eoghan O’Dea –Donnacha O’Dea’s son.

Out of all of the current crop of Irish poker players, the most famous is undoubtedly Phil “The Unabomber” Laak, who is considered one of the best poker players in the world, as well as being one of the most popular poker players in the world thanks to his eccentric behavior, and odd table-talk, which propelled him into the poker spotlight in the first place.

Here is a look at some of the other well known poker players from Ireland and their career accomplishments:

Phil Laak Phil Laak

  • One of the most recognizable players in poker
  • Dating Movie Star turned poker player Jennifer Tilly
  • WSOP Europe bracelet winner
  • High Stakes cash game player


Roy Brindley Roy “The Boy” Brindley

  • Longtime Irish poker pro
  • Brindley was one of the original faces of Irish Poker during the poker boom
  • Has an autobography called “Life’s a Gamble”
  • Nearly $900k in career tournament earnings


Padraig Parkinson Padraig Parkinson

  • Finished 3rd in the 1999 WSOP Main Event won by countryman Noel Furlong
  • Host and commentator for many Irish poker shows
  • Over $1.6 million in  career tournament earnings
  • 2009 UKIPT Galway Champion


Andy Black Poker Andy Black

  • Took a long sabbatical from poker after devastating loss in the 1997 WSOP Main Event
  • Final tabled the 2005 WSOP Main Event
  • Has earned over $4.3 million in career tournament earnings
  • Full Tilt Poker Red Pro


Noel Furlong Poker Noel Furlong

  • 1999 WSOP Main Event Champion
  • Still considers himself an “Amateur” Poker player
  • Finished sixth in the 1989 WSOP main event
  • Still fairly active in poker tournaments in Ireland


Online Poker in Ireland

Ireland has done a good job of balancing the needs of the online poker sites, along with the needs of the players to create one of the friendliest online poker environments in the world –perhaps only the UK has better online poker laws than Ireland.

Ireland is so online poker friendly that Full Tilt Poker’s parent company Pocket Kings Ltd has set up shop on the island, and a number of other online poker rooms –as well as online sports-books—also call Ireland home.

Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in Ireland:

paddy poker Paddy Power

  • Tons of satellites and promotions geared toward Irish players, including Irish Poker Open satellites
  • Fully regulated and licensed online poker room
  • Part of the massive iPoker Network

Boyle Poker

  • Over 10,000 players online at any given time
  • Part of the iPoker network
  • 200% up to $1,000 deposit bonus for Irish players
  • Sponsors local pros John O’Shea and Nicky Powers

Full Tilt Poker

  • Offices located in Ireland
  • Full Tilt was the second largest online poker room prior to Black Friday
  • Sponsors a number of Irish pros including the Hendon Mob and Andy Black


Where to play poker in Ireland

There are a number of casinos throughout the Emerald Isle, and virtually all of these casinos offer poker in some shape or form. The main casinos for Irish poker players are centered in Dublin, with other cities like Galway and Cork also known for their poker games.

A number of major poker tournaments make stops in Ireland including the PokerStars UKIPT, the GUKPT, the Boyle Poker Open, and in 2012 the WPT will be adding a Dublin stop to their schedule as well.

Poker laws in Ireland

Ireland has followed their close neighbor the UK when it comes to dealing with online poker rooms, basically regulate the industry as best you can and tax the operators! Another similarity between the UK and Ireland pertains to how they treat individual poker winnings; with all gambling winnings, including poker, exempt from income tax.

When it comes to live poker you’ll find Irish laws similar to other locales, but the enforcement is very lax, and a person would have to be running a serious illegal gambling enterprise to draw the attention of law enforcement. Players participating in a typical home game where the house is not being paid have very little to fear.

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