By Simon Young

PartyPoker’s two Irish qualifiers are tearing up the field. While James McManus, who started on 875,000 has moved up to 1,075,000, Stephen Kenna is hot on his heels after shooting up to 960,000.

Stephen, who only took up online poker while laid up with a serious back injury, has had a rush of good cards to propel him skywards. I picked up the action when the board had run 5-6-J-7-10 and Stephen was moving 100,000 into the middle, enough to put his opponent all in. He flashed a jack and folded.

Stephen put his two cards face down on the table and invited the crestfallen opponent to turn one over. It was a ten. Then other players asked to see the other, and one flipped it over – revealing another ten, meaning Stephen had rivered a set to beat the top pair. His opponent went on mini-tilt, and then felt worse a few hands later when Stephen turned a flush to beat his pair in another sizeable pot.

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Stephen Kenna: increasing his stack 

Stephen could have been on even more: Magnus Petersson, who won the EPT Copenhagen event two years ago, open shoved for 44,000 and Stephen called, but then Edward Zane moved all in over the top. “What?” said Stephen. “That’s very brave considering I’ve only been showing aces and kings.” He then folded his 10-10 face up. Petersen had A-7, Zane A-K suited. The board of A-10-2-4-Q would have have given our man a set, but he shrugged and got ready for the next hand.

“What can you do?” he said. Well he can keep playing aggressively, and as I walked away he was picking up the blinds and antes after another raise.

James McManus, like Stephen, now has a growing pile of the new 25,000 green chips to add to his towering stack.  Many of them came from Mitchell Smith. He had raised 18,000 from the small blind and James called from the big blind. They saw a flop of A-10-2, Smith bet 20,000 and James called. The turn was a jack and Smith check-called James’ 44,000  bet. The river was an eight, James moved all in and Smith called for his last 160,000.

James showed K-Q for the nut straight and Smith mucked, although he flashed J-6 when asked by the  other players.

PartyPoker qualifier Jiri Hlavaty is still in with 150,000 and Tyron Krost is on about the same. We’re down to 294 players from our 474 starters today. These guys are in a hurry.

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