Jaws Drop at Irish Open Final Table Slowroll
One aspect of sports and games that can be difficult for novices to navigate is the book of unwritten rules. It’s hard enough to learn all of the regular rules plus the actual skills that are needed to play, but then when there is always a laundry list of rules pertaining to etiquette that isn’t even formally published, a newcomer’s head can spin. We have all been there – we’re participating in a game and then for what looks to be no apparent reason, someone gets pissed off at us about something. We get nervous, confused, and just want to get up and leave, not realizing that we breached some sort of unwritten code. It is just an awful feeling. A great example of this happened just a few days ago at the PaddyPower Poker Irish Open final table, when one player violated what may be the top unwritten poker rule in the non-existent book.
It was Monday, April 6th, and the members of the Irish Open final table were vying for the top prize of over 200,000 Euro. Eight players were left, when on Hand 51, Irish poker royalty and the senior member of the table, Donnacha O’Dea, holding 1.4 million chips, raised pre-flop to 100,000 with A♣-6♣. After a couple folds, Germany’s Andreas Gann, who had just 252,000 chips, called with K♦-Q♦. The announcers on the broadcast felt that Gann, being so short-stacked, should have just shoved, but he did what he did. Could have been a stop-and-go move, as one noted. It turned out that it mattered not at all, as the flop came down 6♦-A♦-8♦, giving Gann the nut flush.
O’Dea was first to act on the flop and his decision was obvious – he put Gann all-in. Gann’s decision should have been even more obvious – he had the nuts, after all, and nobody else was left to act – but for whatever reason, he did not insta-call. Instead, he looked at his cards one more time (though, to be fair, I might have done that, too, just to make sure I had diamonds), then sat there, arms crossed on the table, pondering his next move.
The guy had the best hand possible at the time, he was short-stacked, and there was nobody left to fool by Hollywooding. But there Gann was, looking pained, counting his chips, looking around the table, apparently trying to figure out what to do. The whole time this was going on, the announcers were flabbergasted.
“Does he know the best is out?”
“This is absolutely disgraceful. Donnacha O’Dea is from the old school. He’s a legend and an absolute gentleman and this is horrific.”
The longer Gann waited, the more the announcers rallied against him, praying aloud that justice would be served and an Ace or Six would be dealt. After more than a minute, Gann finally made the call, and when he showed his cards, the other players at the table were visibly appalled. They gave him death stares and berated him, all except O’Dea, who sat calmly.
The video of the hand can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDx_3UkGeds.
For those of you new to poker, what Gann appeared to do there was called a “slowroll.” In poker, if you have the nuts, or at the very least an extremely strong hand that should be an automatic call, the proper etiquette is to quickly call when an opponent moves all-in and there is nobody else left to act. You don’t need to go crazy and throw your cards down the split second the other player shoves, but just call and move on with the rest of the hand. In slowrolling, a player with the nuts pretends like he is unsure of what to do, knowing the whole time he has the best hand. It is a way of showboating, of rubbing it in. It is not cool at all.
To the rest of the Irish Open final table, this was a clear slowroll. There was no way Gann didn’t know what he was doing. He even looked at his cards one more time. The announcers let him have it, the players let him have it. In the end, he got what appeared to be his just desserts, as a six rolled off the river, giving O’Dea a full house and knocking Gann out of the tournament. To his credit, Gann was a good sport afterward, smiling when he saw the river card.
The announcers actually took some heat over this, as many people felt that they should not have been laying into Gann so hard. In watching the video, it did kind of look like Gann might not have been slowrolling on purpose – he appeared a bit nervous and genuinely confused when the players were criticizing him.
The next day, one of the announcers, Fergal Nealon, posted on IrishPokerBoards.com to explain his said and tell about what happened later. To the criticisms, he said (copied directly from the board with no editing):
I certainly got carried away, invoking Tony G style bashing…lol @ saying Donnacha knowing the 6 was coming as well. Ya i was just rolling the words out in an anger spiced with my genuine annoyance with what i had just seen.
I did however have no obligation whatsoever to remain impartial here, i wasnt contracted by paddypower for this gig, am not a professional broadcaster but agreed when asked, to join the lads to give a bit of insight into the players i had battled with over the previous days and Im naturally going to be supporting friends in the tornament.
He went on to say that during a break, he spotted Gann’s friend, Tito, who told him that he actually had to explain to Andreas what he did wrong, that Andreas did not understand what a slowroll was. He said that Andreas only played online and has no familiarity with the live game and proper etiquette. “He thought that he did it because his family and friends were watching at home and that maybe he wanted to increase the drama and tension for them, like in a wild west movie, but that it wasnt his intention to disrespect others.”
Nealon also spoke with Gann and went back on the air to explain Gann’s side. Gann, now understanding what he did, went back to the final table to apologize to O’Dea.
There are a couple lessons to be learned here. First, while it is easy to jump to conclusions, even when seeing a video, it is often good to get all the information first before vilifying someone. Second, before you play in a live poker game at a casino, it is not the worst idea to read up on etiquette and how live poker works. It can save you and everyone else time and undue stress.