Sam Grafton bouncing around the place in dungarees like a man whose cultural research on how to dress in Ireland only got as far as a viewing of a Dexy's Midnight Runners video.
George Devine bringing me a thoughtful present (David Bowie commemorative stamps).
Feeling relief that "Norwegian Donald Trump" Espen behaved himself in our place and so didn't get killed by Mrs Doke. So relieved I give him a free run through a satellite hand history of mine. Enjoying his consternation when I fold kings preflop.
Sameer arriving the next day and instantly making a more favourable impression with a very well chosen bottle of French wine. Doing some PIO work to prepare for the next day. Playing my first bullet at a table that includes Griffin Benger. Enjoying the reaction at the table when an angelic blonde dealer smiles at me and says "I remember you from Prague". Busting shortly after Griffin does in a flip against Espen.
Having more luck on my second bullet and bagging up a bit more than average and a day off. Celebrating a bit too long in the bar with Sameer, Elena, Fintan Hand, John Keown and Keith Cummins. As we finally leave hearing Griffin Benger (who everyone would be talking about by the end) say "Everyone is talking about The Dokester and there he is". Crawling out of bed the next morning and persuading a very ill Sameer to come with me for a three hour walk around Phoenix Park. Filming how unimpressed he is by the herds of deer.
Making a good start to day 2 getting up to close to 100k. Changing tables 7 times in the day as it slowly goes pear shaped. Shoving queen jack over a small blind limp about 70 from the bubble and losing at showdown to ace ten. Late regging the JP Masters while keeping an eye on my swaps Sameer and Smidge as they navigate through the main event bubble. Bagging up a little more than starting stack. Spending a little too long at the bar with Sameer and Smidge making day 3. Depositing the proceeds of my satellite winnings in my green bag. Paul Carr joking that he was going to rob the bag. Settling a bet between him and Weesh as to whether his exit in the main was a shove on the bubble. Meeting Bridie Gribbin and Barry Foley and getting their feedback on the return of The Chip Race. Discussing six big blind shoving ranges with Sameer in the cab home. Grabbing a few hours sleep and running some simulations over breakfast with Sameer.
Busting the first hand of day 2 JP Masters to confirmed nemesis Espen.
Getting the rubdown photograph taken as I slunk away. Finally getting to see Alex (Daragh Davey's baby son).
Getting a brain teaser from Emma Simpson (both the brains and beauty of the Simpson marriage which was famously proposed at another Irish Open).
Getting a free hotel room from Paul H who won a package but is going home early (thanks Paul, was a lifesaver). Late regging the Liam Flood Memorial (appropriately enough a 6 max turbo). Mick McCluskey asking me how much I had with 18 left.
"14 big blinds"
"Typical""Not really. I'm chipleader"
Losing a flip with ten left for a lot of the chips. Railing Sameer who has survived in the main on fumes all day and is now closing in on an improbable final table, and Fintan who is proper beasting. Being joined on the rail by Elena, Christin, Espen and Canadian "Energiser Bunny" Giancarlo. Buying Elena a Cute Hoor because she feels self conscious about asking for one. Walking out after Sameer has made the unofficial final table telling him to smell the roses as we don't get them very often in life. Him taking it rather literally and asking me to take a photo.
Talking 9 big blind strategy with an understandably excited Sameer before catching a couple of hours sleep. Running some more simulations after we wake (What if it's folded round to me first hand? What if Griffin opens first hand? What if the first spot I get is over a Griffin button open? How much are ranges affected by ICM and how does it change them?) meant skipping breakfast and heading straight down to the commentary box. Commentating on the full final table alongside Parky, which was an item ticked off the bucket list. Feeling nervous given how dog tired I was after a few nights of sleep deprivation, but feeling reasonably happy afterwards with how I acquitted myself. Thoroughly enjoying spending 7 hours alongside Parky (nine, counting the dinner break). Feeling very proud of Sameer who short stacked ninjaed his way to sixth, and another player I coach who also performed brilliantly on the final table.
Seeing Chris Dowling walk away from the table as I went into the commentary booth (we were in a thirty minute delay). Feeling very sad for him as I know how much he would have loved to win. I've known Chris for my entire poker career and we've had our ups and downs but there's nobody I'd root for more in an event like this.
Having a celebration drink with Sameer. Meeting lots of my favourite people I haven't seen in ages, and boring some of them to sleep. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was my talk on optimal three betting frequencies, who can tell.
Looking forward to next year's event already.