PLACES TO PLAY

Review Of O'Malley's Irish Pub

Fun At O'Malley's Irish Pub in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I played last night in the Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament at O'Malley's Irish Pub in Woodbury, Minnesota. It was one of the most enjoyable poker games I've ever played in and I can't wait to play there again.

First thing I liked about the place is that there is plenty of easy access parking right in front of the front door. Woodbury is a nice suburb of the Twin Cities and O'Malley's is in a nice area of Woodbury.

Upon walking in the door to O'Malley's, the next thing I noticed that I liked is the decor of the place. My companion pointed out to me that the floor is very unique and classy; a stone type tiles that a person doesn't see very often in a bar. There is a fireplace in the center of the dining room area and a leather sofa in front of the fireplace, giving the place a cozy friendly feeling.

Also giving the place a friendly feeling was the waitress, who welcomed my companion and me to O'Malley's and with perfect timing, asked if she could get us something to drink. I asked what flavors of beer they have on tap and when she was politely saying their names and said "Miller Lite" I almost ordered my standard favorite, but then thought that I was in an Irish Pub after all so I should probably order an Irish beer, so I asked the waitress about the "Finnegans" on tap, whether it was really dark or not. She responded that she could bring me a sample to taste. Now that's great service! And the beer was great too, so I promptly ordered a glass after having the sample. Today I Googled "Finnegans" and was surprised and very interested in what I found. Three things especially. First, the beer is brewed with fine malts and hops, but also a dash a potatoes, creating a beer that is creamy, flavorful and light in body. Second, the beer is brewed right here in the Twin Cities, in Minneapolis. And third, the Finnegans website says "In the same spirit that buys a pint for a lad down on his luck, Finnegans was born from the belief of helping those in need. That's why we donate every single penny of our profits to the Finnegans Community Fund, a nonprofit which in turn disburses grants and such to dozens of local charities fighting poverty." Everything I find out about this beer makes the great tasting beer even better.

O'Malley's Irish Pub is a great place to go to taste a wide selection of beers. In addition to the Finnegans on tap, they also serve Guinness, Smithwick's, Harp, Bell's Oberon and others on tap. There is also a wide selection of Import Bottles, Domestic Bottles and Specialty Bottles of beer available, including a Specialty Bottle brand called "Moose Drool" that I haven't tried yet but I'm sure I will next time.

The host of the poker game at O'Malley's, Chris Belflower, welcomed my companion and me to the game and introduced us to a couple of other members of the team that conducts the poker games at the Irish Pub as well as other locations. They were friendly and professional. Straight Flush Poker Tour is the name of the company that provides the poker tournament at O'Malley's. The quality of the equipment that they provide impressed both my companion and me. She said that she liked how new and in nice condition the poker tables were and I really appreciated how nice and new condition the quality of the cards in the decks were. Chris said the Straight Flush Poker Tour has cards specially made for their games and that they always use new condition cards in their games. Both my companion and I were really impressed by the chips that they use in their games. The denominations are printed right on the chips! Just like in a real game. None of that confusion of when a person plays in a new game for the first time and wonders what color chip means what amount it's worth.

Another special feature of the Straight Flush Poker Tour games that I'm really interested in is that, as Chris explained it, later on in every tournament there, in addition to the blinds going up like they do everywhere else, in his games they also start an ante, just like in the real games. Chris said it is designed to give the player the real feel of playing in a real tournament poker game, just like they do on television.

It was about 7:30 p.m. and the poker game started at 8:00 p.m. so companion and I sat in one of the booths next to the window in the bar. The waitress came over and asked us if she could get us anything and we said that we would like to play in the game and wondered if we had time to order food. She said would make sure that we would receive our food order very fast. Again, the service here was excellent.

Companion said that she would like to continue her quest for the perfect Nachos, so we ordered what's called on the menu the "Golf Girls Nachos" described as "Bacon, cheddar, tomatoes, onions, black olives, and jalapenos on top of a bed of nacho chips. Served with salsa and sour cream" for $8.95. The presentation of the platter when it arrived at our table was excellent. I have always liked the chips of various colors, like some reddish chips, some green chips and the usual corn colored chips, and it was the various color chips that were in our plater piled high with the toppings. I thought the jalapenos were the perfect hotness and companion loved the cheese. The cheese tasted great and there was a lot of cheese on the toppings. The platter came with sides of sour cream and salsa. Companion had the sour cream and I had the salsa, which I really enjoyed the hotness of. I thought it was perfect. We both rated the Golf Girls Nachos high on our list of favorite Nachos platters.

The poker game was getting ready to start so companion and I walked over to the poker tables. The waitress was nice enough to continue our tab over to the poker table, so I ordered another Finnegans for the game. The game is organized at O'Malley's so that the names on the sign-in sheet of people who want to play in the game that evening are numbered consecutively 1 through 3 over and over again starting with the first name on the list. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 correspond to the three poker tables available for that evening's play. I actually prefer this method of seat assignment when I'm playing by myself, but Chris explained that if friends want to sit together at the same table, he will make exceptions to the assigned seating to accommodate the friends to be able to sit at the same table. I was appreciative to him for the way he did this for my companion and I, so we sat next to each other during that evening's game.

I liked the caliber of level of play that the other players at the table brought to the game. Every player played as if playing for real money. I had one of those nights where I'd get the Big Slick Ace-King hole cards and call some rather large bets from players holding small pairs and then nothing in the flop, turn or river gave me anything, so I was about the third or fourth player to be knocked out of the game at our table. Companion was in the game longer than I was, but her last two hands were first a pair of Queens and the next hand was a pair of Kings and the flop, turn and river helped only her competition, so neither one of us were able to last long enough to get to the point in the game where antes came into play. I'll be back at O'Malley's next week though for sure to try to last long enough in the game to get to the ante part. If you're at my table and say to me that you read and enjoyed what I wrote here, maybe I'll buy you a Finnegan. See you there!

On the take-out menu for O'Malley's is printed the following:

O'Malley's Goal: "Serve good food, by friendly staff, in a comfortable atmosphere, to our neighbors, so they hopefully become our friends."

-Todd Hanson (owner)

I do believe O'Malley's definitely accomplished their goal with me yesterday evening.

Peter Mansavage
MN Gaming Staff Writer

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