"I was hooked" – Chris Dowling and the irresistible lure of the Irish Poker Open

Mo Afdhal
Posted on: March 18, 2024 08:10 PDT

The Irish Poker Open kicks off one week from today in Dublin, Ireland. The buzz around it has grown steadily in the buildup to one of the community's most beloved tournament series. Recently, PokerOrg spoke with members of the Canadian contingent headed to the Emerald Isle - now, its time to hear from one of Ireland's own – IO ambassador ChrisDowling.


Tell us about your first time at the Irish Poker Open - what stood out to you?

ChrisDowling: I first played in 2007. I had 50% of my action with the other 50% spread between a few pals I played with. Unfortunately, for all of us, I didn’t last very long and exited early bluffing with ace-high. It was the first time I’d been in the same tournament with all the players I was watching on Late Night Poker and Poker After Dark. Even the legendary Doyle Brunson was in town that week. I was hooked.  

The Irish Poker Open is known as much for off-the-felt activities as the poker - what are your favorite things to do away from the tables?

CD: For me, it's the simple things off the felt, like getting to meet a lot of the players who don't play the circuit anymore. The IO always brings out all the old guard for a few days and most of them are as interested in having a few pints as playing cards. 

Danny Maxwell Photography - DMP

Do you have any insider tips for newcomers this year?

CD: It's a marathon, not a sprint. The first few festivals I went to, I played too much - often playing cash games straight through with no sleep at all. Get a good night’s sleep. The games will be running when you return. 

Which side events are you looking forward to?

CD: The PLO events with antes are a great addition. The great game of PLO has always been the number one cash game format in Ireland, but with the introduction of antes in tournaments, they are far better to play now too.

You've played the Irish Poker Open year after year - what keeps you coming back?

CD: It’s the best tournament in Europe every year. If I ever quit playing poker, you'll still find me at the Irish Open every year.


The Irish Poker Open starts Monday, March 25th and runs through April 1st.

The €1m GTD Main Event is a four-day event with a €1,150 buy-in and four starting flights, starting March 27. Head to the  Irish Poker Open site for more details, including a full tournament schedule.

Images Courtesy of Danny Maxwell/Rational Intellectual Holdings Limited/PokerStars