Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Beyond GTO

My 6th poker book with Barry Carter is out! 

Beyond GTO: Poker Exploits Simplified is a modern take on exploitative poker. We use modern solver technology to break down some of the biggest leaks you see at the tables today. 

The book is a natural companion to our 2022 book GTO Poker Simplified. In addition to the exploits, we also show the GTO solution for every spot we cover and explain the thinking behind both strategies. 

There is no guesswork or anecdotal evidence, this book shows you how a perfect GTO player would make the most from a flawed human opponent. It provides actionable heuristics for you to crush soft games, including:
  • How to exploit nits, calling stations, and maniacs
  • Why balance is important, even at low stakes
  • What old school players got wrong about exploitative poker
  • How to get into the mind of a professional player playing against weak opponents
  • Specific preflop and postflop leaks, as well as flop, turn and river mistakes
  • How to avoid making the biggest errors yourself
For those of you with GTO Poker Simplified, we have also fixed a long-standing issue a few customers had with a poker charts. 

As always we self publish our books so your feedback is vital. If you buy the book it would mean the world to us if you told your friends and left a review for us on Amazon (it will be available on the other formats by the start of next week). 

Buy Beyond GTO: Poker Exploits Simplified

A big thank you to those who have already bought the book sending it to number one on the Amazon chart in the US, UK and most other countries!

You can read more about the new book (including the brilliant foreword by Andy Black) here

Monday, December 25, 2023

The waiting room for death

I come from a long line of strong women. My paternal grandmother grew up dreaming of being a schoolteacher. A combination of family circumstance and the conservative Ireland she grew up in made that dream impossible, but she resolved to make it possible for her two eldest daughters. My father grew up in a house of strong females, an only son with three sisters. This made him almost uniquely unchauvinistic for a man of his times: if anything he saw women as better than men, an attitude he imparted to me. His sisters and mother all doted on him and supported him in his eccentricity, which people outside his immediate family were often less understanding of and charitable towards. 

His youngest sister Ann, the only one not to become a teacher, was a kindred free spirit. The fierce independence and clarity of thought that characterised all the females in her family combined with a rebelliousness that took her all over the world as a musician and writer with her Beloved (as she calls him in one of her books), Irish traditional music legend Bobby Gardiner. In Bobby she found a traditional musician but non traditional male who saw his wife not as a supporting player but as an equal collaborator. They had three daughters who grew up with the same strong independent streak. 

I remember Ann from my youth as the smiling playful aunt with a wicked mischievous sense of humour that did nothing to disguise her kind generous worldly wise heart. Maybe the fact she had no sons of her own made her have more time for me when I visited, or maybe that’s just how she was with everyone. Whatever the case she was, along with her own mother (my grandmother), one of the most positive female influences on my childhood. One thing she said when I was ten or eleven shifted my view of the world instantly and positively. I was at the time a morose painfully shy and unhappy child who felt out of place in the world and thought I always would. On a visit to Tipperary, Ann said these words that I think are probably the most important anyone has ever said to me:

“Everyone says that your childhood years are the best of your life. That’s rubbish. They can be the worst. You have to go along with what you’re told, you can’t be your own person. That all changes who you become an adult. You just have to get through your childhood to that point, and that’s when your life really starts”

Those were the words that got me through my difficult teenage years, and those are the words I have lived by since I turned 18. 

My aunt, now in her eighties, remains a force of nature. Still writing, still looking after herself and her Beloved in the house they built together, still looking and moving like a woman half her age, still as mentally sharp and positive as ever. It only occurred to me recently how much she shaped my entire life with those words of wisdom that cut through the bullshit to the heart of what I needed to hear. 

When we visited them recently, the discussion turned to how people live their lives. Ann said she thinks we should live as if we expect to live to be 200. This seems, on the surface, to be the polar opposite of the “live every day like it might be your last” advice that is more usually dispensed. Yet when I thought about it, I realised I much prefer Ann’s philosophy. We live in a time when ageing is portrayed as a drift to irrelevance, old age reduced to a pointless coda, a waiting room for death. I know people my age who have basically taken this to heart and essentially given up. They stop doing the things they love, they won’t  take up any long term projects or pursue new interests, they aren’t looking to meet new people and make new friends. They seem to be waiting for death. In a sense, they’re dead already. 

We are so bombarded with the message that the world belongs to the young that I have found myself succumbing to this way of thinking, and wondering whether I should just retire rather than become a fading version of my former self. I had more or less decided to announce my retirement from poker in the near future, but Ann’s philosophy has caused me to reconsider. Why should I stop doing something I love just because societal norms suggest I’m almost too old to continue doing it? Ann has continued writing and performing along with Bobby into their 80s, and they are the most contented people that age I have ever met. So I’m going to follow her lead and live like I expect to make it to 200. Of course none of us actually will, but I like to think we will enjoy and make more of whatever years we have left than the ones who have already given up in the waiting room for death.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Catch up!

 With more and more of my writing appearing elsewhere I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit of late but I don’t want to let it go completely so I’ll be mainly using it for personal updates going forward. 

Mystery Bounty book

When we published our fourth book “GTO Poker Simplified” six months ago Barry told me he wanted to take a bit of a break from books. Which of course meant we were always destined to crank out book five faster than any of the others. 

We have been working on three different books simultaneously, one on postflop ICM (a follow up to “Endgame Poker Strategy”), another on Exploitative poker, and one on mystery bounties. We originally thought the last one would just be a short ebook, but as we got into it and ran more sims it grew into a fully fledged book, available now on Amazon and everywhere else that sells our books. 


The last month has been dominated by me playing a full SCOOP schedule, 6 days a week. SCOOP itself was a frustrating experience for me as I failed to get the sustained concentrated run good in one event that you need. However I did well in non SCOOP events so overall it was a profitable few weeks, thanks mainly to two 10k binks. 

One came in a mystery bounty. After whining on Instagram I’d pulled nothing but 54 dollar bounties, I missed hitting the jackpot, or at least seeing the box open with it. I was checking my account balance to see if I needed to reload when it suddenly jumped by 10k, a very pleasant surprise. 

The other bink was equally fortuitous. Mid Sunday grind I noticed that a WSOP Main event satellite was overlaying heavily as max late Reg closed, so I hopped on last minute. 21 minutes and 31 hands later I shipped a 12k package. 

Training content

A few days ago I did a hand history review of that bink for JakaCoaching. I was surprised at how many close interesting and in many cases counter intuitive spots I could find in the 31 spots and it made for probably my most instructive content so far for JakaCoaching.

If you aren’t yet a member of JakaCoaching but would like to sign up to watch replays if all my webinars and the other coaches including Faraz himself, as well as watch my live Play and Explain sessions (the closest I’ll ever get to Twitching), you can do so here 


Enter the code Dara15 to get a 15% discount when you sign up.

I have also made some free videos recently with my co-author Barry Carter, some of which can be found on our own video channel, and others on the Cardschat channel

I’m also doing a free webinar on mystery bounties this Wednesday for Pocket Queens and Poker Mix.


My and David’s contract with Unibet ran out at the end of May and we were both delighted to sign with them for another year ensuring the continuance of The Chip Race and Lock in. We originally signed with Unibet back in early 2017 and I think this extension makes us among the longest serving ambassadors for a poker site in the industry. With my earlier stints as an ambassador for Bruce and Irish Eyes, that means I’ll have been a poker site ambassador for 11 years in total. Not bad for an old guy who entered the game in my forties and was told by Stars employees and other industry insiders that I’d never be an ambassador for a poker site because I was too old already. 

Both David and I are genuinely thrilled and proud to represent Unibet, a company with a reputation for integrity and focus on player experience unmatched in the industry. I recently tuned into Twitch to see the ambassador of another site complaining at the here he and other ambassadors had taken for the decision of their sponsors. With Unibet David and I never have to worry about doing anything to enrage almost their entire customer base. 

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My coaching took a bit of a back seat during SCOOP and will again during the WSOP so if you’re one of my students and want a session or two before I head to Vegas, hit me up. 

It was a much better SCOOP for my students than me, and they’ve also been crushing live recently too, including at Triton in Cyprus. I recently achieved a unique “triple crown” when I woke up to messages from three different students saying they’d just shipped tournaments. This gave me almost as much satisfaction as my own triple crowns. 


In addition to the books, I’ve continued to write strategy articles for Poker Strategy, including recent pieces on why suited connectors are overrated and suited kings underrated, and how most players are way too loose preflop in multi-way situations

I also write regularly for VegasSlotsOnline, including some recent articles on the Monster, the Irish Open, a guide to surviving the WSOP, and my top tips for mystery bounties.


Speaking of the WSOP, it’s already started. I’m flying there on the 20th and staying til the end. Between now and then I want to focus on preparing for it both mentally and physically. While I’ve been in excellent health since I shook off (what I assume was) long COVID two years ago (I haven’t had as much as a sniffle since and my energy levels are high again), I have let my physical fitness slide a little recently. Although I managed to get out for a run most days during SCOOP my long runs have slipped too often so I want to focus on getting as good a shape as I can for Vegas. 

I’ll work out my WSOP schedule in the next few days and will be selling some action, mostly to people who have bought in the past, but also some small pieces on StakeKings as part if a new hookup between the Chip Race and the platform. 

If you’d like to buy a piece from me directly, message me and I’ll send you a link to the package once I’ve worked it out. 

I’m very much looking forward to heading to Vegas and hoping this will be the year I finally get a bracelet!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

BLU BLU ‘Lectric BLU

Back when I started this blog almost 15 years ago I thought of it as a Dear Diary which I assumed nobody else would ever read. Over time I learned the hard way that was an incorrect assumption, and I had to start thinking about what other people might like to read (probably not me moaning about bad beats) and might not like to read (me naming and shaming them for inflicting a bad beat on me). 

In recent years more and more of my writing has migrated to other sites: strategy to PokerStrategy.com and Cardschat, and op Ed’s and trip reports to VSO. That’s led to long periods of neglect for this blog, as all it leaves is personal Dear Diary "here’s what I’ve been up to lately" entries. 

So I finished a 15 day intensive study and play period built around the Unibet Spring Poker Championship Tournament on Monday where I studied and played online every day. I ended with a very profitable sessions: highlights were another Irish Open seat on Paddy Power (my eighth) and two thirds in bounty builders on Stars and GG, and a fourth in Title Fight on Unibet (congratulations to my good friend Daragh Davey who took that one down). 

Overall a very profitable couple of weeks and I think my game improved quite a bit so I’m looking forward to taking the improvements into live poker. I did return on Wednesday for an even better session taking third in the Big 109 on Stars and the WSOP Circuit Bounty Builder on GG. 

I’m shifting my focus for next few weeks to health and fitness, content creation, coaching (apologies to my students who I’ve been neglecting: hit me up if you want to book in another session), working on the next books, some live poker (the next Irish Poker Tour stop, the Action Poker Tour launch game and of course the Irish Open), and a live Play and Explain session for JakaCoaching on March 28th

And yes, get a damn haircut!

David and I have kept busy on the Chip Race front. We have a big Irish Open special coming up soon but in the mean time check out our latest Lock In with Lon McEachern. Among other topics, the thorny subject of RTA came up, and I gave my full frank and honest views.

Friday, February 3, 2023

On the occasion of my son’s wedding

(The following blog is an expanded slightly polished version of an off the cuff speech I recently gave at my oldest son’s wedding)

I first met Paddy 33 years ago. Those of you who know Paddy’s age (38) are probably thinking 

“What a terrible father, not bothering to see his son til he turned 5”

The reason though is when I met the woman of my life, his mother Mireille, Paddy (or Aurelien as he was called at the time) came as an outgoing hyper friendly bonus. I anticipated some difficulties getting him to accept a weird 25 year old Irishman he had nothing in common with, not even a language, but Paddy gave me the benefit of the doubt. Even at that age, he was the most forgiving person I know alongside his mother. When I fucked up, as I often did in my role as new father or nouveau pere, he’d simply shrug, smile, and suggest we play a computer game together. I won him over with many hours of Accolade golf and GP racing on my first PC, as he sat on my lap cheering me on in German. He spoke French and German but no English at the time, and when Mireille heard how bad my French was she forbade me from butchering it in front of him, so German it was. My German was terrible, much worse than my French, and he was 5, so we didn’t have enough words between us for many long deep conversations. Those came later once his English improved. 

Paddy made new fatherhood easier than it could ever possibly be, but I still fucked up constantly, so his ability to forgive and forget was vital. Shortly after his arrival, we went for a walk along the Dun Laoire sea front where we lived at the time. Paddy was always an adventurous boy, and he therefore thought climbing down some steep slippy rocks to take a closer look at the sea was a great idea. As a clueless nouveau pere, I saw no possible problems here. That changed when the tide started to come in and he came to the conclusion he couldn’t climb back up the steep slippy rocks. As I gazed down helplessly at him mentally preparing my “honey our boy drowned” speech, a young girl of 9 or 10 passing by offered to help. In my cluelessness, I decided that I was pot committed here and one drowned kid wasn’t much better than two, and told her to go for it, now adding a “and another kid who went to help also drowned” addendum to the speech I was mentally rehearing for my beloved and, I anticipated, the authorities.  The girl turned out to be quite the little acrobat and motivational speaker, and she got the job done. As Paddy and I trudged home to play computer games, we had our first shared life lesson: men are the weaker sex and when in doubt its best to turn to a female to bail us out rather than muddle on in our stupid masculine bull headed way. 

At the time, we moved every few months for my work. This made it challenging for Paddy (or Aurelien as he still was at this point) to make friends. The name didn’t help either, apparently unpronounceable to Irish kids, and a visible stamp of foreignness. When he expressed frustration at both these points, I suggested they could both be resolved by a simple name change. 

“Next time we move, just tell them all your name is some Irish name”

“Can I choose it?”

“Of course. More fun for you, less hassle for me”

“Ok. I choose Paddy”

I bit my lip and suppressed the impulse to tell him to pick a less stereotypically Irish name for the love of God. From that day forth, he was Paddy O’Kearney. 

His ability to connect with anyone and everyone was evident from the start. Apart from getting dragged around due to my work, I was still in my chess phase so he found himself dragged to tournaments most weekends in the early days. His restlessness and adventurous nature meant he tended to wander off given half a chance. On one trip to London, we thought we left him sleeping soundly for the night, only to arrive back to find him perched on the front reception desk explaining to the utterly charmed receptionists in broken English that his parents had disappeared. He’d drawn surprisingly accurate pictures of us on hotel stationery for search party purposes. 

On another trip to Tipperary, he forced us to go room to room in the hotel searching for him. We eventually found him literally in bed with the reigning Miss Ireland, Siobhan McClafferty, showing her how colouring worked, in German. She seemed very disappointed when we took him away. 

Other than his wanderlust, he was such an easy child to be a father to I took up bragging. When I poo poohed friends complaining of their own parental difficulties they invariably said

“Wait til his sister is born”

“WaIt til he’s a teenager”

“Wait til he turns 16/18/21”

All those milestones came and went without any transformation other than a gradual positive one into the kindest most emotionally intelligent man I’ve ever known. In a family of prickly quirky individuals Paddy has always been the emotional centre through which we can all relate and have our differences explained and tolerated. The calm empathetic glue binding us. The happy carefree forgiving boy turned into the man who cares deeply about everything and everyone, but forgives us all our prickles and flaws. His ability to relate to everyone has always extended way past family. 

On one trip to Vegas he shared a car to the grand canyon with me, and two poker friends older than me. The age difference didn’t faze him in the slightest. The fact that the other two were a committed nationalist from Northern Ireland whose brother had been a hunger striker and an English Maggie Thatcher loving football hooligan who had run guns to the loyalists in Northern Ireland made for an explosive car cocktail. I’ve often thought since that Paddy’s presence alone averted disaster. 

Paddy and I started with almost nothing in common and even now we couldn’t be more different. He lacks the competitive drive completely, still very much the kid who prefers to cheer on others and be happy for their success. He lacks any trace of materialism or drive for personal conventional success, yet despite this he’s done more for the good of humanity than anyone else I’ve ever known, at least in my extremely biased opinion. He’s incredibly good with his hands, able to build, fix, fashion or make anything. In a post nuclear apocalypse he would be the most important man on the planet. He has marched to his own recycled drum through an eco warrior phase, an urban farm phase, and many other worthy projects where the motivation is never money but making the world a better place. I’m intensely proud of the man he is. It annoys me beyond words when others criticise him, thankfully an infrequent occurrence. When he drew criticism for his environmental protests I went on national radio to argue with his critics. When one of them conceded “well, at least he’s proper Irish, not like all those new age German hippies” I chuckled inwardly at the thought that the name on his passport is still Aurelien Schmeltz, born in Germany. 

In my negligible, um….I mean extensive research for his wedding speech, I discovered there are only 72 O’Kearney’s in the world. It is with great pleasure I welcome the 73rd, Niamh. In her Paddy has finally found the strong active type we both realised was our type that day he had to be rescued in Dun Laoire. She is wonderful in every way but one: the wretched siren has lured our son to San Francisco. He leaves today. We will miss him terribly, but visit him often.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Review of 2022

 It’s been my custom in recent years to start every year with a blog reviewing the previous year and I see no reason to break with tradition this year. So here goes, a totally personal account of my year that was.


This came back in force this year. I got back to playing my usual volume, including EPTs Prague, Barcelona and London, a Unibet Open in Malta (followed by Battle of Malta), the WSOP and the WPT World Championship in the Wynn, as well as all the normal stuff in Ireland. From an experience point of view the highlights were Malta, London and the Wynn. 

I also greatly enjoyed the return of the Irish Poker Tour, particularly the Cork stop in the Macau, and the one at the start of the year in Limerick (my first time ever playing there). 

From a results point of view, I cashed with my usual consistency, but the really big one eluded me, and I had a pretty miserable WSOP which all added up to one of the most lacklustre years of my career on the live felt. I recorded 25 cashes on the Hendon mob, a new personal best and in the process became the first Irish player to pass 200 cashes lifetime. Highlights were the last cash of the year, a 4th in the team event with David Lappin in the Wynn, and a four way chop in the EPT London Seniors event. 


In the first half of my career almost all my income and most of my time came from and went to playing online. It was incredibly lucrative and enjoyable. Over the second half of my career, the trend has been to play less and less volume online every year. There’s a number of reasons for this. The banishment of HUDs from most sites means I’ve had to scale down to the number of tables I play. The gradual growth of my coaching and content creation has also reduced the amount of time I can devote to online. The financial incentives are not the same: in addition to more of my income coming from other sources, the hourly achievable playing online has dropped considerably. 

I also think I just can’t grind 100 hours a week like I did at the start of my career. I can do it in bursts for online series or whatever but when I tried to go back to doing it full time at the start of the pandemic I quickly found myself burning out. 

My focus with online has switched away from being something I do purely as my primary source of income to something I do primarily to keep my game sharp. 


I’m very happy and proud to continue my role as ambassador for Unibet and Cardschat, two companies I strongly believe are positive forces in poker. I am also happy to have joined the Irish Poker Tour as their strategy expert, writing an ongoing series aimed at teaching beginners and improvers the most important foundational concepts. 

Chip Race and other content

The Chip Race and it’s YouTube sister show continued to flourish in 2022. It’s a real pleasure working with David.

I also wrote a considerable number of strategy articles for various sites, and started writing regular articles and logs for VegasSlotsOnline. I also produced videos for Cardschat and Barry’s YouTube channel


Every year I say I’m getting out of staking, and every year I report that I didn’t manage to. The death of my latest staking partner Jan Suchanek late in 2022 might provide the impetus to finally exit the arena. The sheer joy of working with Jan and talking to him every day was a big reason I got pulled back in. I miss Jan and our daily interactions terribly. 

2022 was my biggest ever losing year overall on the staking front, something else which might encourage me to finally quit. 


2022 was my busiest year ever on the coaching front, and the most successful for my students on the felt. On the coaching my approach has changed a bit down the years. Initially I thought my only job was to teach people how to run the sims but I’ve come to the realisation that most people don’t have the time or inclination to spend 100s of hours doing that. So these days I largely just take relevant solver output and explain it conceptually (the why) so students can implement it. I also have analysis software that can be used to identify leaks you might not even be aware of.  I use Zoom to record the sessions so students can watch them back afterwards.

Like all the other things I do I enjoy coaching there’s a happy balance as far as how much of it I do. It’s not something I could do full time 8 hours a day, or even 4 hours, so I’m forced to limit the number of students I can take on (I only take on those I think I can help enough for it to be worth both our whiles).


This year I joined Faraz Jaka’s training site, initially as a guest coach to deliver webinars on satellites and ICM, but have now joined to produce one webinar a month. To sign up, use the link https://Jaka.Poker/Dara and enter the code DARA15 for a 15% discount. I recently did my first ever live play and explain session where I played online and explained my thought process in real time to students, and will be doing another one of those every few months. 


Studying is an ever increasingly important part of the routine of any poker pro who wants to stay profitable online. In recent years my own study has mostly revolved around specific topics for content I’m making, the books or webinars, and work with students, but I definitely want to put more time into my own independent study and training in 2023.

For training I still predominantly use DTO, and for study 2022 was the year GTOWizard replaced PIO as my main study tool.


In 2022, I did commentary at the Patrik Antonius challenge in Tallinn, the Irish Open, the Battle of Malta, different Unibet events, different events in Rozvadov, and a GG Millions final table (with Kevin Martin).

Kicking off 2023 I’m joining my Chip Race cohost David Lappin to do commentary on a Merit event in Cyprus. 


November saw the release of my fourth collaboration with Barry Carter, GTO Poker Simplified. I was genuinely concerned there might not be an audience for this book so have been blown away by the response. Not just the sales figures (it became our fourth #1 best seller in poker on Amazon and at this stage looks like it could potentially eventually become our biggest seller yet), but also the reaction and reviews like this one.

Barry and I both greatly appreciate anyone who takes the time to write a review for us. As self publishers we don’t have a big publishing company to push our books for us so we rely almost entirely on word of mouth and reviews. 

The list of languages the books have been translated into continues to grow:

Poker Satellite Strategy - French, German, Spanish, and coming soon Japanese 

PKO Poker Strategy - Italian, Spanish, Czech 

Endgame Poker Strategy - Italian, Spanish, Japanese (by end of year)

GTO Poker Simplified - Spanish soon

Onwards and upwards 

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support and interest, and wish you all a happy new year. Hope to see you all at some point at a live table in 2023!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Eating and drinking in a Wynnter Wonderland

 I already wrote a blog covering the poker aspects of my recent trip to Vegas for the WPT World Championship for Vegas Slots Online so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead a few people asked me to write about where we (David Lappin and I) ate and drank and went.

First I have to say we were pretty lazy on that front. We were staying in the Wynn Encore. We ate the vast majority of our meals there, and rarely left the hotel. The farthest south we got was the Venetian (across the road) and the farthest North was Circus Circus a couple of blocks up the strip (where we went to film some content for the latest Lock In). Part laziness, part because Lappin moaned about his bad back every time I as much hinted about heading for an exit, part being very busy, but big part there’s so much choice in the Wynn there’s no real imperative to leave it. 

Siegel’s Bagelmania

This was where I had my first breakfast in Vegas this trip. Marc Brody picked us up from the Encore and brought us there for breakfast (after which we headed back to the Wynn sportsbook to watch Argentina versus Croatia).

The food is as good as American breakfast gets, and the portions are also very American (which is to say huge enough to feed a village in Europe). Marc ordered French toast and they killed an entire loaf for his breakfast.

Coffee is very good (a key consideration if you don’t want to be dealing with a sniffy grumpy Lappin), so much so that the second time we went there and there was a queue Lappin ordered the coffee immediately and got started on it before they sat us. 

I’d say first meal except that technically that was…


Vegas used to be a 24 hour town but no more. I got there so late the first day we couldn’t find anywhere in the Wynn that was open. We set off for the Venetian to the sound of Lappin complaining about his back. The only place we found open was Walgreens. There’s another about the same distance from the Wynn in the opposite direction we went a few times. Both are very good options if you just want a quick sandwich or a gallon of water for less than a small bottle costs in the hotels. 


This quickly became a favourite, probably because Lappin declared it the finest coffee he’d ever consumed in Vegas. An excellent breakfast menu meant we arranged to meet quite a few friends there. First up was new Irish Open ambassador Chris Dowling, at what Lappin dubbed the ambassadors breakfast. It almost didn’t happen because when we got there there was a longer queue (or line in American parlance) than normal. 

It’s something of a mystery to both of us how there seems to be a line for everything in America, and Americans just accept this. Lines in Ireland tend to be self limiting because if people see more than a couple of people ahead of them they just give up and go elsewhere, which we almost did after Lappin declared this was at least an hour long line. 

As he did so an American lady made the major mistake of stopping to ask if we had been told how long the line was, and choosing grumpy Lappin to direct the question to. Looking at her like she either had two heads, or zero heads, he waved at the line. 

“It’s that long”

“But in minutes…”

“Lines are not measured in minutes. Are you familiar with the differences between time, space and matter?”

Feeling sorry for how sorry she now looked to have asked the question I interjected we had been given no estimated time, and she wandered off to ponder the differences between time space and matter some more. 

We also brought Aidan Quinlan and Sam Dobbins there one dinner break, and Lappin brought along a table mate who wrote for South Park and Mike and Molly’s. Jamie Kerstetter also dropped by to tell us how she was going in the Ladies. 

We also spent our last afternoon in Vegas there with Vanessa Kade who is always good company and seems better equipped to deal with our Irish eccentricities than most North Americans. 


The Italian in the Wynn was another place I went more than once. The first occasion was a rushed dinner break catch up with Pokerbunny (Paulina Loeliger) and her boyfriend. The food was decent and more importantly prompt. Paulina is always enjoyable and thought provoking to spend time with: genuinely one of a kind. 

Second time was a more leisurely affair with Lappin and my buddy Kevin O’Donnell on our last night there. Lappin was less than impressed by the gluten free options declaring “no cooking was needed for my dinner: they just had to take stuff out of packaging” but Kevin and I were a lot happier. Lappin was less than impressed by the table on the edge of the restaurant, saying he felt like he was eating on the casino floor. 

SW Steakhouse 

This was probably the best meal we had in Vegas. The occasion was the WPT media dinner and I got a good seat draw beside the always charming and interesting Jennifer Newell. Team Chip Race loves steak, particularly free steak, and Lappin was in great form when the waiter didn’t blink at the request to make his blue. His mood darkened when they brought it and it was clear there was a gulf between what he and the chef thought blue was.

His mood darkened further when a “guess my age?” game broke out and Jen went very high for Lappin. Things soured further when several Americans made inflated claims for the quality of their steaks in comparison to other countries, something a gourmand as snobby as Lappin couldn’t let pass at the best of times, much less when his youthful looks and demeanour have just been impugned. 

Wynn Buffet

We had very fond memories of this from the Unibet Open there a few years ago so we went to breakfast one morning. The food was decent but not quite as good as I remembered, and we were less than impressed by the line we had to wait in. We were offered the opportunity to join a shorter line for 5 bucks, but we decided we’d prefer to keep the 5 bucks. Once we hit inside it was difficult to see why there was even a line, let alone two. There were enough empty seats inside to accommodate everyone in both lines several times over. Americans, please explain. 

We came for the food and didn’t come back because of the lines. 

VIP room

In truth this was probably the second best place we ate. WPT really know how to treat their qualifiers and you were guaranteed great company every time you went in. 

Lobby bar (Encore)

Only went there once, with our friend Soheb “payjump” Porbanderwala after he bust the main. Has a nice friendly feel to it and the waitress was very funny. Some random dudes tried to buy Lappin’s pants so they could get into a nightclub but ended up staying for a drink, and Robbie Strazynski and Dankness made cameo appearances. 

Deli at reception (Encore)

Don’t know the actual name of this place and was only there once for coffee with Smidge after we both bust the main. Lappin joined us when he busted shortly thereafter for a communal sulk as we glared angrily and enviously at people still in the tournament enjoying their break. 


I’d been here once before. Poker tourist Asif brought me there at the start of my WSOP 2015 campaign which he never fails to point out was my most successful. I brought Lappin there hoping for similar run good this time. He wasn’t that impressed but I was (a lot of things are easier and better when you can tolerate gluten). We’d definitely have gone back there had Urth not been a lot nearer. 


I have many fond memories of this Chinese beside the poker room in Encore. I was less impressed this time, and Lappin even less so. He was ok when we ate there on our last full day there, but he was in a lot worse mood the next day when we returned because it was one of the few places we could use our poker points for comps. Yes we may have won 5k between us the previous night in the team event but goddammit we're poker players and spending our comps is always a priority. His verdict this time: “I wouldn’t feed this to my dog”. All the more damning given the fact he doesn’t even have a dog, and never has as far as I know. 

PGA Grill House (airport)

By the time we got to the airport Lappin was in as bad a mood as I’ve ever seen. It didn’t improve when he was told he’d have to join a slow moving British Airways bag drop line which he was pointing out to BA staff is an oxymoron as I abandoned him to go with the already checked in Jack Hardcastle. 

Jack and I ended up here mostly due to a bewildering lack of alternatives in Terminal 3. No idea what the food is like as we stuck to the beer, regaled by Lappin telling us about the revolution he had fostered in the bag drop line when he eventually showed up.


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