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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Oct 01, 2005

Padraig Parkinson at the WSOP

It Wasn't Supposed to End Like This

This year's World Series of Poker put me in the mind of Irish cyclist Paul Kimmage. For anybody who doesn't know, Kimmage was a domestique. And to call anybody who did what this guy did a domestique is a joke. Ireland knew all about cyclist Stephen Roche, who in 1987 did the most unbelievable treble of all time with the Italian Giro, the World Championship, and the Tour de France. But the big Irish hero was Paul Kimmage. He did all the pain in the mountain stages, his job being to get Roche to the finish line. One year in the Tour de France, the year that Kimmage was going to retire anyway, somehow Roche didn't turn up for the team time trial. It wasn't Kimmage's fault, but Roche turned up 10 minutes late and then just dropped out of the Tour. That wasn't Kimmage's fault, either. The Irish were actually amazed that people ever turned up on time at all; they thought maybe Roche not turning up was par for the course. But, anyway, Kimmage kicked on. There was no Stephen Roche, no time trial, and no team leader; it was all about pride, when nobody knows except maybe your family. And then on one of the mountain stages, Kimmage decided he'd had enough, and he quit. They have a van in the Tour de France that's called the brush truck. That's where all the heroes go who don't realize they are heroes. First you get the riders, then you get the carnival, and then you get the brush; that's where all the guys who quit go. That's where Paul Kimmage's career ended, and it wasn't supposed to end like this.

Poker players shouldn't be amazed. The domestiques who support the team leader are the bravest men, but no one knows their names. And to call the truck the brush truck is a huge insult, because the guys in the brush have so much pride that they think they have lost. But, they've actually won. They just couldn't take anymore.

Looking at the World Series of Poker, the brush truck was everywhere. Everybody was in the brush truck. Maybe some of the great superstars of the game didn't understand that the game involved a little bit of pain. The smallest guy who can find a bicycle is liable to hit them over the head with the bicycle in the first mile or two. So, watching 5,000 players in the brush truck is actually quite funny. Sometimes, poker players one minute think the overlay is huge, and then the next minute they want to complain about it. Poker stars all go around screaming and roaring their bad-beat stories, how they would have won the tournament if they hadn't lost this particular pot, how they would have won the World Series if they hadn't lost the other pot, but they don't understand what happened. They're all in the brush truck. All that happened was they got knocked out of the world championship, and their egos got a little bit bruised. But all these guys should go and talk to the domestiques, they should go and talk to Paul Kimmage. It's a career that makes a hero. There's pain in the Tour de France, like the climb up the Alps 23 minutes behind the pack when you can't feel your legs anymore. There's knowledge that you are never going to win, but your pain will contribute to the team leader's gain. That's heroes, unsung heroes. The A-K against the two sevens? Go talk to Paul Kimmage.