Men With Vision: Mike, Rob And Me
by Padraig Parkinson | Published: Jan 22, '13
The World Poker Tour in Dublin last week was what you’d expect at a major event in Ireland these days. Half the tables were populated by guys who loved themselves and would have loved themselves even more if they weren’t constipated.
The rest were having the craic and giving the impression that poker was fun. Strange concept that!
After several levels of sheer boredom, I got moved to a seat beside Andy Black at a table where insults were flying and people were breaking all the rules by laughing quite a lot.
If anyone even looked like they were going to dwell up, they were told not very politely to “get on with it FFS”, and they did. I had made a New Year resolution to keep my mouth shut, but couldn’t help myself when an English guy started moaning about players not getting food vouchers.
I told him there were plenty of vouchers available but not for the English, out of respect for the million or so people who’d died during the Great Famine. Pay back is a bitch.
It certainly is because within a few hours one English guy dogged me for half my chips and another one dogged me for the rest.
The next day I was in the bar with a bunch of guys watching football. The game was shit (Newcastle were playing) and eventually a discussion started about who were the visionaries in the poker world.
I immediately claimed to be best ever in that category. A case was made for Mike Sexton. I first met Mike in the bar in Metropole Hotel in London in the summer of 1996, during the European Poker Championships. By 10 in the morning we were the only two poker players left in the bar amongst the suits with their laptops and biscuits. Mike was telling me about the future. TV, sponsorship, respectability. I blamed the drink. It was certainly my excuse for listening to this bullshit.
A few years ago, I was delighted to be asked to nominate my friend for the Poker Hall Of Fame. Shows what a judge I am!
Next name to crop up was Rob Gardner who sadly is no longer with us. When I met Rob in the bar in the Aviation Club, he and Nic Szeremeta were promoting the idea of a made for TV poker tournament. Yeah right.
They were drinking red wine by the bucketfull, so I politely turned down their invitation to play and went off looking for beer drinkers to drink with. Six months later, I was watching Late Night Poker on TV. A couple of years later, everyone was televising poker, but Rob had moved on. He and Jesse May were at the World Series of Poker doing interviews for the Internet outside the poker room in Binions.
The following year, everybody had copied that but Rob and Jesse were doing The Poker Show for TV. Yep, you guessed it. The year after that, everyone was doing poker TV shows.
Where do I come in as a visionary? Rob and Jesse talked me into cohosting The Poker Show in 2005. They assured me that neither talent or effort would be required for this role which suited my skillset just fine.
It turned out to be great craic. Daniel and Evelyn were great on the first show and we never looked back after that. Well we did actually, but why spoil a good story?
I had my own segment in the show called PADRAIG PARKINSON’S OFF THE WALL. It was a couple of minutes long and involved me standing in front of a wall covered by photographs of the biggest names in poker telling the viewers they could vote by email to have the person who least deserved to have their picture on the wall removed.
Lots of people voted but they needn’t really have bothered as I had already decided who the first guy off was going to be. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a great believer in democracy. But only in elections where I can’t decide the result in advance.
It caused quite a stir when I removed the first photograph from the wall claiming I didn’t agree with the verdict of our viewers. It caused such consternation that most of our viewers thought it was for real when I did a piece outside Clarke County court house claiming we’d been challenged legally but had won a great victory for free speech. Jesus!
You may well ask how that makes me the greatest visionary of all times in the poker world. Simple. It was 2005 and the guy I chose to take off the wall was Howard Lederer!