Padraig O’Neill has become the first person to win back-to-back Unibet Open main events. The Drumlish, Ireland-based pro took down the €1,100 main event in the Unibet Open November series, for a couple of euros shy of 80 grand.
This time the first prize was a little lighter. He made €52,622 for beating a field of 230 players.
What makes the achievement doubly impressive is that both times, O’Neill satellited into the event for €50 a pop. That’s an ROI of a little over 1,300% across the two events.
The 31-year old pro said in a post game interview, “It’s slightly surreal to go back-to-back. Just incredibly lucky! I would like to thank Unibet for putting on another great festival. And I’m looking forward to hopefully being at a Unibet live stop later next year!”
Unibet Tweeted about the completed series, congratulating the main event champs from the year.
Named and acclaimed
It feels like one of those signs of the times that O’Neill won the events under different usernames on the same site. In November he won as “John_smith2” — a reference to Dr. Who‘s The Doctor’s “human” alias — while this week he went with “Icarus5”. On Unibet, multiple usernames have been perfectly legal since 2014.
The Unibet Opens run quarterly and is a key fixture in Irish poker in a normal year. The last live edition of the series took place back in May. Since then the tourneys have moved online.
Playing under a different name allowed O’Neill to avoid any attention he might have otherwise got during play as the defending champ. Whether this serves to even the playing field or convey an unfair advantage remains a topic of debate in the poker world. Though lately the winds seem to have shifted towards acceptance.
Partly this is due to Phil Galfond’s success promoting RunItOnce’s name randomizer. But even PokerStars is now Beta testing anonymous tables. Just a few days ago they went live with their test of anonymous “Stealth” tables.
O’Neill’s win only goes to further normalize this greater degree of flexibility. O’Neill still enjoyed playing with his foes, despite not being able to pick out old opponents by name. Though he still recognized one of them.
“The final table was full of strong players,” he said. “The anonymous nature of Unibet usernames meant I only knew David Lappin — but battling for a title versus a former coach of mine was a fun experience.”
This was the last of the Unibet opens for 2020, but they’ll be back in the first quarter of 2021. Whether they’ll be live or not depends, like so much at the moment, on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nataly Sopacuaperu, Unibet’s Head of Events, said: “Massive congrats to Padraig O’Neill who joins an illustrious roll call of two-time winners. […] We obviously hope that live poker will be able to resume in 2021 but look forward to welcoming thousands of players to next year’s events, whether online at the virtual tables on Unibet Poker, or face-to-face over the felt.”
Featured image source: Twitter