You've Got To Know Where You Come From...
by Padraig Parkinson | Published: Jun 06, '12
… To Know Where You’re Going. Check Padraig’s WSOP adventure on Twitter.
I stopped off in Dublin on my way to Vegas to host a game in the 888 sponsored Voodoo Card Club that was to be streamed on the net. Those people in the Voodoo aren’t dumb. They didn’t want a host who is a proper player because he might win and spoil everything.
You can’t go to a game in Dublin without visiting at least one pub first (three is optimal). So, I dropped into O’Donoghues on my way to meet our very own snooker legend Ken Doherty, seven times world champion, Stephen Hendry, snooker impressionist John Virgo, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Madonna, The Queen, Tom Jones and Willie Nelson.
Actually, they couldn’t all make it (I just wanted to feel like Phil Hellmuth for a minute or two) though the snooker lads all turned up and kindly signed a cue to be auctioned at the Paris Goal Ball where the Irish in Paris get drunk and raise funds for people who have nothing, not even hope. The way Ireland is shaping up this could be a very sound investment in our future.
O’Donoghues holds a unique place in the history of Irish music. For decades, musicians of all shapes and sizes have just turned up there and entertained themselves and everyone else in sessions that have become legendary. It was there in the early sixties that The Dubliners, who were to become internationally famous, got together. They went on to become Dublin’s favourite sons, not just for the music and entertainment, but because the fame didn’t change them one little bit. You didn’t have to know them. You just felt you did. Perhaps that what true greatness is all about. This is not a dig at poker players but looking in the mirror just to make sure a nice guy hasn’t become an arse isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Dublin was shocked recently when Barney McKenna, one of the founder members of the Dubliners, died suddenly. It wasn’t long before everyone was smiling as it seems everyone has a Barney story so O’Donoghues seemed a good place to swap a few of them. My favourite was one from the sixties. Barney was driving the band home in a minibus after a late night gig. They were stopped by the cops who asked Barney if he’d been drinking. When he said he had, they asked him how much. He said he’d had 10 pints and 4 or 5 gin and tonics so they asked him to blow in the bag. “Why?” said Barney, “Don’t you believe me?”
I skipped pubs two and three and headed for the Voodoo. The game was as advertised. Poker with a smile Irish style. Plenty of banter and good humour doesn’t mean people aren’t trying. Somewhere in the middle of it I was asked what was the funniest thing I’d seen at the table in Vegas over the years. Easy one that. Ireland’s Alan Betson was playing in an allnight PLO game in Binion’s several years ago. An American guy who was probably the worst player in the game was winning pot after pot. The more he won the more he talked.
Being unbelievably boring didn’t slow him down. The other players had to just suck it up as hey were terrified he’d leave if they upset him. Running out of material he improvised by picking up Alan’s cigarette pack and remarking that he’d never seen that brand before. Alan told him that they were made in Ireland. “Oh!,” he said “I didn’t think they made anything in Ireland”. Alan just raised an eyebrow and said “We made enough fucking Americans didn’t we?”