Irish Open regular Mark Buckley scores big in Barcelona

Mark Buckley, who has been competing at the Irish Open for many years and is a well-known player in the Dublin poker community, has scored the second biggest cash of his career at EPT Barcelona.

Buckley, a commercial sales rep and amateur dog breeder, beat a tough 128-entry field in the €1,500 buy-in PLO event to win a first prize of €60,410. Buckley battled Swedish player Erik Bystrom heads-up before snagging the PLO champion’s title and his second PokerStars trophy. Amongst those who also made the money was Irish Open champion David Docherty who finished 27th for a min-cash of €2,700.

Buckley, 42, says he was crushing his table in the early stages of Day 1 – after getting a full triple up – and never looked back until it came to the final table where he was nearly eliminated after a nasty blind-on-blind battle. He said: “It was a very tough tournament and extremely tough final table. I was down to just 1.2 big blinds but then I won three all-ins in a row and that put me back in contention for the win. I remember the dealer was about to change – he was only dealing one more hand – but he dealt me the winner! Krisztian was his name and I thanked him afterwards because if he hadn’t dealt that last hand, I could have been out. I was absolutely thrilled to win, and to come back from Barcelona with another spade trophy.”

Buckley, who took up poker in 2009, is something of a PLO specialist and has numerous cashes in the variant from tournaments around Europe including victory in the PLO six-max at the Irish Open in 2017, the Unibet Open Dublin PLO tourney in 2020 and the Winamax European Short-Handed Poker Championship in 2012. He also made the final table in the €1,000 Master Classics of Poker PLO event in Amsterdam in 2019, finishing ninth for €2,584.

His biggest cash to date was also in Barcelona when he finished seventh in the Main Event in 2018 for €220,000. At the Irish Open, he was runner-up in the €2k High Roller for €23,585 in 2018. His first PokerStars spade trophy came courtesy of the UKIPT Dublin €220 NL Bounty event last year which he won for €1,864.

JP McCann, who organises the Irish Open with Paul O’Reilly, said: “We were thrilled to see Mark doing so well at EPT Barcelona. He’s been a really great supporter of the Irish Open for many years and it’s great to see his hard work rewarded with another major PLO result. PLO has always been a favourite amongst Irish players – in fact, so much so that we’re looking at adding some exciting new PLO events for the 2024 Irish Open. Watch this space for more details!”

This year’s Irish Open featured 36 different tournaments at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge from April 3-10. Numbers were up across the board, with nearly every single tournament attracting more players than ever before. It was the festival’s first time at the RDS and the venue proved a perfect fit for Europe’s oldest poker tournament.