Poker presenter Laura Cornelius has hosted the Irish Open more times than she can count but it was last year’s winner interview with poker legend Steve O’Dwyer that has had the biggest impact on her.
O’Dwyer, who has won more than $33 million in live tournaments and has more than 30 victories to his name, is normally a reserved and reticent interviewee – even when he has just won millions.
But when he won the Irish Poker Open in Dublin last year, O’Dwyer told Laura that the victory meant more to him than almost any other event he’s ever played. The €318,700 prize was certainly not to be sniffed at but it pales into insignificance compared to the giant sums that O’Dwyer has won across the world over the last 15 years. Nevertheless, it clearly meant a lot to him to win the Irish Open in the city he’s called home for the last 10 years.
Laura said: “I’ve interviewed Steve a lot and I think it’s fair to say that he normally doesn’t give much away. This time I really saw a different side to him; it was actually very moving to see how much the event meant to him. It made me pretty emotional!”
Laura will be back in Dublin this April in her linchpin role as host for the Irish Poker Open. The former PokerNews presenter plays a leading role at the festival – introducing the action as well as interviewing players, chatting to event winners, and reporting on all the fun and excitement at the tournament.
This year’s Irish Open is taking place from April 3 to 10 at a brand new location – the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge. In addition to the flagship €1 million guaranteed Main Event, the Irish Open features a ton of other Championship tournaments.
Cornelius, who started her career with PokerNews back in 2011, has worked at tournaments all over the world and presented dozens of poker shows including the Unibet Open, the European Poker Tour, Battle of Malta and the Global Poker League.
She said: “I’ve been to the Irish Open so many times I’ve actually lost count! Obviously, the best thing about it is the “craic” – the atmosphere is really unbeatable. The Irish Open feels very down-to-earth and fun. Everyone talks to everyone and the Irish make everyone feel so welcome. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues.”
One of the undoubted off-the-felt highlights for Laura is the Shuffleboard Tournament. She said: “It turns into a massive get-together for everyone – a really fun holiday camp vibe. I also loved the bingo last year – and of course the dance contest and karaoke! Watching Will Kassouf serenade everyone with his version of Robbie Williams’ Angels was truly unforgettable. We were all still dancing on the tables at 7am that night!”
Laura thinks players are also going enjoy the new location for this year’s Irish Open. She said: “CityWest is a fantastic venue but having the event at the RDS means people are really close to the city centre. I think people will be going out more in Dublin this year.”