For all the poker enthusiasts out there looking to play live poker but without investing a huge amount of money, here is a list of the best value and cheapest tournaments to be found in Dublin during the year. Almost all of these tournaments offer online satellites and players can qualify for as little as €5 in most cases. As I have found, it often ends up being quite a bit more expensive to gain entry to these tournaments, but any saving that can be made on the buy-in is a big plus for those with a tidy bankroll. All of these main events are No-Limit Hold’em tournaments unless otherwise stated. One thing to note is that with these low buy-in tournaments, the rake percentage (i.e. registration fee) is often quite high which makes qualifying for the tournament online an even more valuable option.
1. Amateur Championship of Poker (ACOP) – Buy in: €200 – Runs last weekend in January
The ACOP is right up there in terms of the best low buy-in tournaments in Ireland year-on-year. With a buy-in of €200 (€180 plus €20 registration fee), this is a great tournament for any amateur players to try their hand at the live game. For any recreational players who feel they might have an edge against newcomers to the felt, this tournament can also represent huge value and has been growing its field size each year since its inception. This year’s event played out on the last weekend of January and Irishman David O’Kelly took down the tournament and a first place worth almost €16,000, which is certainly an enticing prospect for a two-day tournament. Of course with the amount of inexperienced players, one can expect to see more than a few unconventional plays made! As with all of these tournaments, there are several side events running during the weekend as well as cash tables running for most of the day should the main event not go to plan.
2. Boylepoker International Poker Open (IPO) – Buy in: €230 – Runs mid-October
The Dublin leg of the IPO is probably the most well-known tournament with a relatively small buy-in in Ireland, and as its name suggests it attracts players from around the world. A giant event that comprised of over 1,650 runners in 2014, this tournament certainly represents a minefield but offers a lot of play in the early stages. As with any of these events, the increasing blind levels can instigate numerous all-in situations and you would need to run very well to go far is this tournament. That said, play your cards right and a Monday final table would be your reward. This could of course result in a sickie being pulled but the possibility of walking home with €40,000-plus would probably ease the pain of incurring your boss’ wrath!
3. BoyleSports Poker Winter Series – Buy in: €150 – Runs last weekend in February
Boasting one of the lowest buy-ins for a live multi-table tournament at €150, Boylepoker’s Winter Series shows the growing trend and interest in these affordable poker events. Boyles are a company seasoned in putting on a good class of poker tournament and you can expect a decent venue and high-class of dealer to be present at any of their events. This event follows on from the successful Summer Series that drew 582 players and created a prizepool exceeding €75,000. One thing to note is that this is a re-entry tournament. If you win an online satellite and get into the tournament cheaply, you would generally have no intention of shelling out €150 should you get knocked out early but when you’re at the tournament and feel like playing it’s a different matter! Another point on this matter is that many players may have no problem re-entering and consequently play extremely aggressive poker in order to either build a massive chip stack or get knocked out and start again. This can be taken advantage of but can also lead to some crazy pots developing early in the tournament. This tournament is beginning on the 27th and 28th of February with online satellites currently running for the 2015 edition.
4. European Deepstack Poker Championship (EDSPC) – Buy in: €570 – Runs first week of February
Admittedly the buy-in for this event is a little spicier than the rest at €570. However, it is included as it’s the stand-out deepstack tournament in Ireland where there is a huge amount of play in the opening couple of days due to a whopping 100,000-chip starting stack. This is a hugely attractive prospect for anyone who really loves the game and wants to be able to experiment with a number of different styles and plays at the poker table. The big downside of this event is that it begins on a Thursday and could end up constituting two days off work, which is a big commitment for most when one could walk away empty handed from the tournament even after surviving the first two days. This year’s winner was Henrik Johannson who cashed out for almost €42,000. As with all of these events, there are online satellites available and now that Paddy Power Poker are promoting this tournament the number of people it attracts can only rise. The EDSPC is now run in conjunction with the ACOP as part of the Dublin Poker Festival under the D4 events banner. It was recently announced that the 2016 festival will take place between the 12th and 21st of February, moving both the ACOP and EDSPC start dates forward by a couple of weeks.
5. Irish Amateur Poker Championship (APAT) – Buy in: €120 – Runs early January
The Amateur Poker Association and Tour, a separate entity from the ACOP, hosted their main event this January in Ireland and turned the tables on popular culture by making it a Pot Limit Omaha event. At €120, this is the lowest buy-in event listed and gives players a chance to try their hand at a different discipline for a minimal buy-in. The eventual champion, Scott Gray, walked away with just over €2,000 and a seat to the tour’s flagship event in London. After a successful showing this year, the APAT is sure to return to Ireland next year for another round of the Irish Amateur Poker Championship. Online qualifiers for this event would certainly be fewer than the other events listed here but live satellites would likely be available close to the weekend of the tournament.