With live poker showing no signs of decline after a record breaking attendance in Barcelona last month, you would be wrong to think this was just a trend at the higher level of the game. Pub Poker has long been the entry point for so many players and over in Dublin these low stakes games are still a breeding ground for those who are trying to emulate the success of Noel Furlong, Padraig Parkinson, Donnacha and Eoghan O'Dea and Full Tilt Poker Ambassador Dermot Blain.
Strangers enjoy the craic over cards with regulars in pubs all over the city, although something different happened this week when one of the first World Series of Poker Main Event November Nine members arrived to play the popular Monday night game at The Eden in Rathfarnham.
Kelly Kim, who finished eighth to Peter Eastgate in 2008, was visiting a friend in Ireland and decided to pop in for a game, explained Stephen Loane of Irish Poker Nights who runs several successful pub games, including the one at The Eden. "I met Kelly in Cyprus last year while working on the live stream for the World Poker Tour (WPT), so when he came to visit Dublin, I couldn't resist the chance to have him play one of my games."
Before the poker night, Loane was unsure if he should spill the beans and tell the player there was a star seated with them or stay tight-lipped about who Kim was.
"I was torn about telling my players about him coming as I didn't know if it would put anyone off playing because it's all about keeping as many people as possible in the game."
With the decision made for Kelly to play incognito, he quietly went about his business, missing out on the €1,000 for first place, but adding a €150 min-cash to his resume.
"I think keeping it quiet was the right thing to do", said Loane, "especially when Kelly received a warning from the dealer over an alleged string bet, which I'm sure would not have happened if I had explained who the mystery newcomer was."
Kim has promised to visit ClubPoker Rathmines in the South Side of the City, which is owned by Loane and well known tournament director Luke Ivory, during his visit to the Emerald Isle, so if you are playing poker in Dublin this weekend you never know who might be sitting at your table, regardless of the buy in level.