In 2007 Marty Smyth got the home crowd cheering by defeating all comers to lift the Terry Rogers Memorial Trophy and claim the €650,000 first prize. Smyth’s victory was not only remarkable because of the size of the field (a European record of 708 players) but also because of its quality.
The event attracted stars from across the globe including EPT, WPT and World Series of Poker Champions. World Champion Dan Harrington and WPT host Mike Sexton represented the old guard from the States while Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly and Antonio Esfandiari embodied the new generation of US superstars. However, even they may appear to be getting a bit long in the tooth compared to the wunderkinder of online poker Annette Obrestad and Sorel Mizzi who also starred.
Europe’s top players had varying fortunes, David Benyamine cashed while Carlos Mortensen was first out, Roland De Wolfe soared to second place while the Devilfish sank early on. Ireland’s biggest guns made a lot of noise on Day 1 with strong performances from Andy Black and Padraig Parkinson but it was some lesser known Irishmen who grabbed the attention.
Online qualifier Thomas Finneran finished 7th while Nicky Power and Brian “The Fox” O’Keeffe, both from Waterford, came to the final accompanied by large vocal support. Both experienced the highs and lows of high stakes poker in a dramatic series of hands before finishing 6th and 5th respectively. Another Irishman, Danny McHugh from Mayo, came 4th.
The final three provided an almost perfect match up for the TV cameras, as well as the large crowd at the event. An Irishman looking to keep the trophy on home turf; a young Canadian online superstar; and an Englishman on the hottest tournament streak in world poker. Chips were passed around at a furious rate before Sorel Mizzi finally exited in 3rd place leaving Marty Smyth and Roland De Wolfe to duke it out in an epic two hour heads up battle. De Wolfe looked like he had it when he got Smyth all–in with 33 versus 22 but Smyth turned the 2 to keep Irish hopes alive. The dream soon became reality and a few more big pots left De Wolfe having to push with 10–high. Smyth called with K9 of hearts and the rest, as they say, is history.