The Irish Poker Festival MILLIONS by PartyPoker is only a couple of weeks away, with the first event taking place on October 31 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Although the Irish Poker Festival’s tournaments will attract players from far and wide, it is only fair to highlight some of the biggest winners who call Ireland home. After all, the festival is taking place in their country.
According to The Hendon Mob Database, Ireland’s five biggest live poker tournament winners have combined earnings of $19,248,250. That figure would have been larger, but our friends at The Hendon Mob incorrectly have Marty Smyth listed under the Republic of Ireland when he is Northern Irish. Regardless, let’s take a look at the five players from the Emerald Isle who have reeled in the most live poker tournament winnings.
1.) Andy Black – $5,117,480
Andy Black is Ireland’s biggest winner and arguably the country’s most famous poker player. Black had enjoyed some success in live events in the late 1990s before deciding to discard his possessions and live in a semi-monastic Buddhist environment for five years.
Black successfully returned to poker in 2004 and a year later navigated his way to the final table of the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event. Now affectionately known as the Mad Monk, Black fell in fifth place for a career-best $1,750,000.
In 2007, Black received the equivalent of $556,695 for a third-place finish in the Aussie Millions Main Event and clinched another €238,910 ($318,640) when he finished seventh in the EPT Grand Final Main Event.
More recently, Black was the fifth-place finish in the 2023 Irish Open Main Event, yielding €95,500 ($104,338).
To date, Black has tracked career earnings of $5,117,480.
2.) Max Silver – $4,999,030
Max Silver burst onto the live poker scene in 2010 with a brace of victories among his first three results. Silver took down the UKIPT Dublin Main Event for €72,000 ($91,541) and a £1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament at EPT London for another £83,588 ($130,807).
Thirteen of Silver’s live scores weigh in at six figures. His third-place finish in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed event at the 2014 WSOP came with $273,646, with a victory in a $25,000 buy-in event in Las Vegas in 2015 boosting his bankroll by $432,960.
Silver’s largest single haul came in August 2018, winning a €10,300 High Roller event in Barcelona for €600,924 ($702,005).
3.) Marc MacDonnell – $3,327,122
Marc MacDonnell hails from Dublin but currently resides in Hungary. The popular Irishman has won over $1.6 million from online poker tournaments and over $3.3 million in the live arena.
MacDonnell mostly played live events in his native Ireland during the early stages of his career but is now found playing anywhere the action is best. His first six-figure prize came in 2015 at the WSOP; MacDonnell scooped $155,876 for a runner-up finish in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Hyper Turbo event.
Another six-figure score, worth $420,805, came MacDonnell’s way when he finished fourth in the 2017 WSOP Millionaire Maker.
A handful of other big scores followed before MacDonnell helped himself to a cool $1 million payday. MacDonnell finished third in the PartyPoker LIVE Caribbean Poker Party Main Event to become an instant millionaire.
4.) Eoghan O’Dea – $3,303,208
Eoghan O’Dea had already made a name for himself with $260,000 and $388,532 live scores before being propelled into the limelight at the 2011 WSOP. O’Dea, son of the Irish poker legend Donnacha O’Dea, reached the Main Event’s final table. He busted in sixth and turned his $10,000 investment into $1,720,831, which remains his largest live cash today.
Although O’Dea is a talented No-Limit Hold’em player, he prefers grinding Pot-Limit Omaha, and it is in PLO where some of his most substantial prizes stem from. He banked $143,128 for a sixth-place finish in a $10,000 PLO event at the 2017 WSOP and another $169,173 for another sixth-place finish in the same event in 2019.
O’Dea won a WSOP bracelet online in 2020, doing so in a Pot-Limit Omaha event. Be sure to look out for O’Dea in the Omaha events on the Irish Poker Festival schedule next month.
5.) Dermot Blain – $2,501,410
Dermot Blain exploded onto the live poker circuit in 2009 when he won an event in Macau for the equivalent of $541,100. Another six-figure bankroll-boosting score came in 2011 when he narrowly missed out on a WSOP bracelet in the WSOP Europe Main Event, busting fifth for €275,000 ($367,362).
Blain was crowned Player of the Year for Ireland by the Global Poker Index between 2012-14.
Blain is a prolific grinder who has more than 110 recorded live results on his poker CV, and the Dubliner will almost certainly be heading to the Irish Poker Festival in an attempt to keep at least one of the winner’s trophies in Ireland.