Many an online poker fan has wondered if he'll ever be good enough to make a living at his favourite game. Perhaps Irish amateur, Niall Smyth - the 26-year-old winner of half a million euro in last month's Paddy Power Poker Open - was one of them.€20 Online Bet Wins €200
Smyth's incredible story began with a simple online sports bet. Like many punters in Ireland and the UK, Smyth had a flutter on April's Grand National, putting down €10 each way on the winning horse, Ballabriggs, through Paddy Power online sportsbook. Smyth was pleased with the €200 he pocketed and transferred it to his Paddy Power Poker account - but had no idea how those winnings were about to change his life.The Money Piles Up: €200 Becomes €3,500
As a "part-time" poker player, Smyth used his Grand National pay out to enter a feeder tournament for the Paddy Power Poker Open, to be held in Dublin at the end of that month. He played well, and was rewarded with free entry into the exclusive €3,500 buy-in tournament.Four Days' Poker in Dublin - result: €550,000
We can only imagine how the young hospital worker felt as he sat down at his first table in Dublin's Burlington Hotel, knowing he was surrounded by some of the best No Limit Texas Hold 'em pros in business - but if he was nervous, he didn't let it stop him. After four days, 614 competitors, and three gruelling hours against veteran English poker champ, Surinder Sunar - Smyth emerged victorious and over half a million euro richer.What the Future Holds
Niall Smyth will surely continue to play and build on his well-deserved success. The Co. Clare man does, however, want to keep his feet on the ground, in his own modest words: "I'm happy with the win," he said. "I won't be taking any drastic steps but it has set me up well."