Episode 102 Dara O’Kearney

Dara O’Kearney went pro somewhat later in life than your average grinder, but his background in bridge, chess, backgammon, and most recently ultramarathoning made him a natural. He’s also a natural raconteur and an excellent writer. We talk about his unconventional background, the Irish poker scene, his staking business, and more. For even more stories, follow Dara on Twitter or check out his excellent blog.


0:30 – Hello & Welcome
8:29 – Strategy: a hand that will haunt you for the rest of your life
45:33 – Interview: Dara O’Kearney


Blinds 6K-12K with a 2K Ante. Villain (350K) opens to 25K, Hero (500K) calls ATo on the button, everyone else folds.

Flop As 8s 6h. Villain checks, Hero bets 75K into 84K, Villain calls.

Turn 3h. Villain checks, Hero shoves, Villain calls.

16 thoughts on “Episode 102 Dara O’Kearney

  1. And now for the all-time greatest TPP quotable quotation:

    “Realistically it is probably just a gradual decline into senility. That’s the reality.”

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

  2. Very enjoyable conversation. I second Gareth’s observation.

    I found it interesting that an older, late bloomer, would set up a staking shop for younger players. I’ve often thought there’s a void of poker stables designed to teach the game to older, successful folks from other backgrounds. Instead of taking in a stable of young folks where you also have to put up the bankroll, why not start a stable where the students are already successful somewhere else and can put up the bankroll themselves but need the team-based coaching?

    Close your eyes and envision a thinking poker dojo in the high tech areas of California, where successful engineers, programmers, and venture capitalists go (and pay) to study under a poker master.

  3. I listened to Serial over the weekend, and my response to it was that it was all the good and the bad of This American Life (as a lapsed, but no doubt will be again TAL listener), only much much longer, so it was interesting to hear Nate express a similar sort of sentiment. In particular the main presenter is so eerily similar to Ira Glass that she may as well just be him. It also does raise some ethical dilemmas. Not all of the appeal, but at least some of it, lies close to that of a detective novel or tv show, but this is real people’s lives!, so it’s a bit uncomfortable to find yourself responding in a fashion similar to how you do to fiction.

      • Yeah the most recent show raised some concerns for me too. All I knew about the show when I started listening was that it was a serialized story – I was expecting similar to a really long episode of The Moth, this isn’t exactly a story I would say and most of what makes it questionable for me isn’t even central to my enjoyment of it. Like it’s not important to me that it be a crime story or even a true story. Hopefully next season will take a different tack (doubtful, though, given the success they had).

  4. Thanks to guys for having me, and everyone who listened and commented.

    Interesting idea Pie Farmer. My staking operation is not exclusively aimed at younger guys: it’s just that the vast majority of applicants tend to be under 25s. I am currently involved in staking one guy older than myself who wishes to remain nameless. As I touched on in interview, a lot of guys my age (who are playing longer and are more old school) have a much less positive view of being staked than the younger guys who see it as a fast track to moving up levels, to the point that they may see it as shameful to even ask for it, and if they do, they don’t want it publicised. But certainly it would seem that outside the existing player pool there could be guys successful in other careers who would like to learn. I was involved at one point with coaching one of Ireland’s leading businessmen (who again shall remain nameless). His ambitions extended no further than crushing his home game, but it sure meant a lot to him!

    • Thanks for the feedback. It makes sense that some of the types I mention have gone down this road, but incentives keep it from being common knowledge.

      Great interview. Thanks for a very enjoyable episode.

  5. Excellent guest, and a really entertaining show – it reinforces my desire to have a poker trip to Ireland one day.

    It’s funny that you mentioned the Serial podcast earlier in the show, for two reasons (with due apologies for the first):
    1. I have been way behind in my TP-listening over the past couple of weeks because my podcast time has been taken up by Serial, which I’ve been pretty hooked by.
    2. The section at around the 31 minute mark where Nate is reading from the email (“maybe I was…etc”) sounds *exactly* like he’s channeling Sarah Koenig – same intonations, stresses etc – as if listening to her has rubbed off a bit. Honestly, even without the prior Serial chat to put me in mind of it, I was struck by the uncanny similarity!

  6. Thanks for discussing my hand. Still so annoyed by it. You were right that I didn’t know Thayer before hand. Learned after the fact who he was and made me feel somewhat better about losing to him. The thing I wasn’t ready for was how exhausting playing two full days of poker would be. Thought my office job would prepare me for a bunch of sitting indoors, but I guess not. I definitely think I was off my A game at that point in time. Need to figure out ways of staying more focused even late in the day.

  7. Great interview – Really interesting character and good to see someone coming into poker in their 40s and being successful.
    Keep up the good work with getting less well known guests on, but who have a story to tell.

  8. Great interview guys – Dara is a man of some substance, but so level-headed and unassuming.

    Looking forward to the book Dara You deserve your success. Michael

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