Padraig “Smidge” O’Neill wins record-breaking EPT Prague

Irish Open regular Padraig O’Neill has won a record-breaking EPT Prague for a monster first prize of €1,030,000.

Known to all as “Smidge”, the 34-year-old from Drumlish in County Longford started the final day with just 12 big blinds, the shortest stack of the five remaining players. However, he managed to edge his way back into contention and eventually seized victory after a tense four-hour, back-and-forth heads-up with fellow Irish Open regular Jon Kyte.

Irish poker fans are thrilled with O’Neill’s triumph in Prague. He is only the second Irish player to win an EPT Main Event in close to 20 years of the EPT’s existence. And although 2022 Irish Open champion Steve O’Dwyer won EPT Monte Carlo ten years ago, he was representing the USA at the time.

O’Neill took up poker at university and has been a pro for several years. He had well over $600,000 in live tournament winnings before he arrived in Prague, as well as significant online scores. But Sunday’s success dwarfs his previous best live cash by nearly ten-fold.

Irish Open regulars clean up in Prague!

Norway’s Jon Kyte was chip leader for the last three days in Prague and started the final table with more than 60% of the chips in play. It was a historic chip lead that seemed unassailable but the 29-year-old from Bergen had to settle for €643,000 for his runner-up finish. One of Norway’s most successful players, Kyte has competed numerous times at the Irish Open including when the event formed part of a double bill with the Norwegian Championships. In 2017, he won both the NLH 8-Max and the PLO 8-Max and the following year he won the Irish Open PLO Deepstack. His last cash came in 2022 when he finished 90th in the Main Event.

O’Neill and Kyte were not the only Irish Open players to thrive in Prague. American Marle Spragg, who cashed twice at this year’s Irish Open, was eighth in Prague for a career-best cash of €123,600 (which puts her firmly in the lead over her PokerStars Ambassador hubby Ben.)

The EPT Prague top 20 also featured Norwegian Preban Stokkan, who had a deep run in the 2018 Irish Open. He finished tenth in Prague for €73,160. Irish Open regular and Scottish #1 Niall Farrell finished 16th for €42,320 and 2022 Irish Open champion Steve O’Dwyer was 19th for €36,780. Other Irish Open players who made the money included Leo Worthington-Leese and UKIPT Blackpool champion Ian Gascoigne.

The tournament was the biggest EPT Prague ever held, with 1,285 entries creating a €6,232,250 prize pool.

PokerStars sats underway!

O’Neill’s victory ties in nicely with the very first PokerStars qualifiers for next year’s Irish Open which were held last night on .com, .fr, .es and .it. The €109 satellite on .com guaranteed a €1,500 seat + expenses prize package for the 2024 Irish Open which is being held at the RDS from March 25 to April 1. PokerStars will be running a ton of qualifiers for next year’s Irish Open after sending 350 players to the 2023 event including Irish Open champion David Docherty. Stars is running seat-only qualifiers tonight, Wednesday and Friday and a bumper qualifier on Christmas Eve (next Sunday) with six seat+expenses packages guaranteed.

Photos courtesy of Manuel Kovsca / PokerStars.