Card school graduate who holds all the aces
Friends told him to stick to the books, but professional poker player Marty Smyth has already chalked up career winnings of almost 3 million and hopes to add to the pot at the Irish Poker Open in Dublin this weekend
AS IS PROBABLYthe case in most secondary schools, students at the north Belfast grammar I attended fell into clearly defined categories. There were the rugby boys, the hockey girls, the academics, the “alternative” crowd, and the unassuming “nobodies”.
Then there was Marty Smyth, an affable sort who didn’t fit quite so comfortably into any of the cliques. While the rest of us were concerned with the progress of the first XV in the Schools’ Cup, cramming for the upcoming A Levels, or wondering whether our new fake ID would get us into the Crescent Bar at the weekend, Marty spent all his free time playing poker with a couple of friends.
Rumour had it that one of the other lads owed Marty almost 100 from their lunchtime card school. This notwithstanding, we all had a good natured laugh at his expense, safe in the knowledge that gambling was something that would never take him anywhere, and that Marty would be better advised to hit the books like the rest of us.
To date, Marty Smyth, now 33, has amassed $3.7 million (2.9 million) in professional tournament winnings. “I thought I’d always play poker from time to time with friends, but I didn’t know it was possible to make a career out of it back then,” says Marty, fake identity websites who is preparing for the Irish Poker Open which takes place in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin this weekend with a prize pot expected to be close to 1 million.
“I only started to consider it as a career years later when there was a huge poker boom on the internet. There was a lot of easy money to be had back then when I started playing online, although it’s nowhere near as easy now.” He describes himself as having been “naturally quite clever at school, especially at maths and sciences”.
Nevertheless, his grades were good enough for him to be accepted at Queen’s University Belfast to study chemical engineering. There he was soon busy using his student loan for extra curricular activities.
“I missed a lot of classes and did about 10 per cent of the work I needed to do to pass,” he says. “I dropped out of my course and tried mechanical engineering, but I didn’t make it past first year there either. “It was around then that internet gambling suddenly started to get very popular. In the first few years after I started playing poker online I probably made as much money as I would have made in my whole lifetime if I had worked a regular job.”
Marty turned professional soon after and has since climbed to second place in Ireland’s all time tournament winnings list, approximately $300,000 (233,639) behind Dubliner Andy Black, and well ahead of Alan Smurfit, brother of Michael Smurfit.
He explains, however, that official tournament prize money figures can be a little misleading. “Officially, I have won almost $3.7 million in live tournament winnings but because of deals and things that usually happen towards the end of tournaments, the real figure I have won is probably around half that. But it’s the same for most poker players, and that figure doesn’t include what we win on the internet and in the side games that go on outside of organised tournaments.”
Marty’s most recent big win came in December 2008, when he pocketed the top prize of $1 million at the Sky Sports Poker Million VII No Limit Hold ‘Em Final. He insists, though, that while the gambling industry is “more recession proof than many”, fake id it is not immune from the effects of the economic downturn. He says there is currently less money available, and admits he personally has “not been doing so well over the past few months”.
“It’s hard to know, though, whether that’s because of the recession or if it’s just another bad run which happens every so often,” he adds. This and several other factors have made Marty a little unsure of his long term future in the industry.
“Strange as it sounds,” he begins, “I don’t enjoy playing poker nearly as much as I used to when I just played for fun. So I suppose it’s like any job, in that you get fed up with it after a while. At the minute things are going well. But it’s a lot tougher now than it was when I got into it.”
The game’s popularity has indeed mushroomed over the past five years, so much so that the poker kit complete with cards, chips, dealer button and green felt mat is as much of a requisite in the 20 something bachelor’s home as the complete
Family GuyDVD box set, three day old pizza, and enough beer to floor an elephant.
This is mostly due to the proliferation of internet gambling, and satellite sports channels, where poker games are to be found scheduled between darts matches and 10 pin bowling tournaments.
“There are lots of very good professional players around, some of whom I believe will go on over the next 10 years to win more money than me and the other currently established players,” Marty says.
“Plus, there aren’t as many bad players, so I don’t see myself doing this forever. Maybe in a few years’ time I’ll try to start some kind of business and play poker a lot less.”
HE SAYS, fake ids HOWEVER, that he is under no pressure from his family to cash in his chips.
“My girlfriend has always been fine with me doing this for a living. When I initially told my parents, they were pretty anxious. At the time I told them, I had just won somewhere around 30,000 in a few months, but they were worried that I had just been lucky and would probably just lose it all again and more if I continued playing, and then be back to square one, or worse.
“I was pretty confident that that wouldn’t happen though, and it didn’t. Now that I’ve bought a house and invested some money my parents are a lot happier with the idea.”
Marty gives little away when asked about tips. “Poker is something that can be learned, and you can definitely improve. No one is going to be much good when they start playing, but as you play you will pick things up and realise why you made mistakes in the way you bet with certain hands. Then again, some people won’t ever get really good at it no matter how much they play.” I feel targeted.
“For that reason, I would definitely urge those who are thinking of taking it up to be very cautious,” he concludes.
THE Irish Poker Open, now in its 28th year, is Europe’s
longest runningpoker championship, second only on a global scale to the World Series of Poker, held annually in Las Vegas.
It is also the largest tournament in Europe, with a significant increase on last year’s 667 registered players expected this weekend at Citywest Hotel, best fake id sites Dublin.