Dara O’Kearney Talks About His Past as Marathon Runner; Satellites, and a Close Call in Las Vegas

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Well, some 12 years ago, an “old Irish dog” decided to learn how to play poker and has since earned more than $1 million on the live circuit. Online, he’s an even bigger beast with more close to $2 million in cashes, well-known as one of the undisputed masters of satellite tournaments.

Who are we talking about? Former Irish international ultra runner Dara O’Kearney. The Unibet ambassador is known to most players in Ireland and the UK as “Doke” only. Now in his fifties, the Irishman can easily take on the younger generation when it comes to running and playing cards.


O’Kearney started playing poker in 2007 at the age of 43. “I played a little bit of draw poker in my childhood, but then didn’t play for another 25 years and really only took it up late on. I was a recreational marathon runner for years; originally I just took up running to gain a bit of fitness and lose a bit of weight. I got more into it over time.”

In his thirties he was a “pretty serious recreational runner,” O’Kearney then ran an ultra marathon when he turned 40 as an experiment and ended up winning that race in New York.

“For the next two years, I was a top class ultra runner, representing Ireland in several races, setting Irish records. But actually, my professional running career only lasted two years.”

What followed was a different kind of endurance challenge for the Irishman, who has since become well-known not just on the live poker tables but also the virtual felt. O’Kearney has become a satellite crusher, giving lessons to poker enthusiasts with regards to the perfect strategy, and his Pocket Fives profile boasts several Triple Crowns.

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