McHaffie: MCU lesson 075 / Irish Seminar

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2006.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 75: Irish Open Seminar and Tournament

Mike was invited by PaddyPowerPoker to present a seminar on April 13 at Trinity College in Dublin, one of the most prestigious colleges in all of Europe. Nikki Newman, Poker Operations Manager for PaddyPowerPoker, commented to me that she felt the players would “benefit greatly from Mike’s wisdom.” PaddyPower Poker is a “sister site” affiliated with the same network as Doyle’s Room, so the seminar was endorsed by both sites.

Trinity College was founded in 1592. Today students from over 70 countries attend this illustrious college. It is indeed a prestigious college with great beauty history. I found it quite fascinating and was honored to be there. But, let’s talk about poker.

Poker goes to college

The hall where the seminar was given was supposed to hold only 80 people but this day it held over 120, with many forced to stand along the walls to watch. The seminar was mostly aimed at students and faculty – including a college poker club that boasts hundreds of members. The attendance far surpassed what they had told us to expect. The students seemed excited that the “Mad Genius of Poker” had chosen to cross the ocean and come to their country and their college to present a seminar to them. After the seminar there was a book signing and the students eagerly stood in line for an opportunity to shake hands and have their books authographed.

Although I have attended and organized many of Mike’s seminars, some with four times the size of this audience, this one was among the best in my mind and definitely very special. The centuries-old setting and intelligence of the audience make it one that I will remember fondly forever.

On the 14th of April, the 25th Irish Open began at nearby Jury’s Hotel with 339 players, including Mike. He finished 27th, barely placing in the money for the first-day event.

Bluffing at the wrong time

In the final event, he was knocked out early, the victim of a failed bluff. In dealer position, he moved all-in against three opponents who had called to see the flop of 7-7-Q. Mike teaches that this can be an excellent opportunity to bluff early in a tournament, because it’s unlikely anyone has a strong-enough hand to call and risk elimination. Even an A-Q would be a likely laydown for most strong opponents. Unfortunately, the player in the big blind held an unlikely Q-7, having flopped a full house. This was one of the few times I’ve seen Mike exit a major tournament without having the best hand and being drawn out on.

The tournament is one of the oldest poker tournaments in Europe. The prize pool was over one million Euros, with PaddPowerPoker donating 51,000 Euros. The final table was televised live across Europe via Sky Sports, and was played at the Royal Dublin Society building in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Mike participated in the televised commentary. The final players to compete on this memorable night were Paul Daly, Jon Wong, Conor Smyth, Brendan Ruane, Ian Woodley, and Vincent Melinn. Ireland reclaimed the title from England this year, with Vincent Melinn winning the 2006 Irish Open. Vincent Melinn usually confines his play to high stakes online cash games. This was his second poker tournament, his first being the 2005 World Series of Poker.


Mike looks forward to returning to Ireland and participating in the Irish Open once again in the future. Ireland made a big impact on me. The people there are very friendly, helpful, gracious and fun, with poetic accents that envelope you. The countryside is breathtaking, filled with castles, some in tact, and some in mystic ruins.

The Irish Open is a tournament that all poker players should experience at least once in their poker career. I hope one day to be able to play in it, as well. — DM

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