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Pat's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Mar 01, 2006


Recently, Scott Gray got two kings in a big tournament. He got half his money in before the flop, and then timed out when it was time to put in the rest. The man was in a state of shock. He timed out because he had just gotten a phone call to tell him that one of the most popular poker players in the history of Irish poker, Pat Crow, had moved on to the next game. Scott phoned me shortly afterward. He seemed to think that Big Pat Crow wouldn't have approved, but I know he would have. He'd have loved it.

Big Pat learned his poker the Irish way. He fell in love with the game, played like an idiot, lost everything, and then decided to work out how to play. He wasn't unique. That's how we all learned our poker in Dublin. At least that's what I did.

Pat and I were both broke at the same time long ago, but we got real lucky. It was a thing called Tourney Wars. Both poker clubs in Dublin were trying to outbid each other in terms of how much they would guarantee each night. Enter Padraig and Pat. Lord James was the tournament director in the old Jackpot Club, and no matter how badly we screwed up and how skint we were, Lord James not only loaned us the entry money and gave us back any profit we made, but he introduced a bounty of £20 on any other player of his choice. The bounty was normally the same guy, but was subject to change from the tournament director. On one famous occasion, Lord James changed the bounty because a woman had really ticked him off. He knew that, I knew that, and Pat knew that. Pat still went to great lengths to knock out the previous target in a ridiculous fashion. Pat just said, "Old habits die hard."

Whenever the Irish hang around the bar at a poker tournament, wishing they were in a poker tournament or wishing there never was a poker tournament, some stories just keep getting told and retold. Some deserve it and some don't. One of the great ones is when Dave Thuite was owed several thousand pounds by a customer from his automobile business. Dave decided it was time to go collect, and he decided to bring Big Pat along as half of the muscle. They arrived at this guy's house and he gave them £50 out of a three and a half thousand bill. Dave's a nice guy, and he considered that Pat should be looked after anyway. So, the two guys went into a Chinese restaurant. They seated themselves and ordered a meal for four. Twenty minutes later, they called the waiter over to inquire why they hadn't been served, and the waiter informed them that he was waiting for the ladies to arrive. The boys told him that there weren't any ladies coming and that he could get on with it. They duly polished everything off.

Pat lived for poker. He did whatever it took. He turned a great taxi business into a no taxi business. He once even had the food franchise in the Griffin Club. Pat ran the franchise well, except once he got a few quid to play upstairs, you could make your own ham sandwich. I did, and so did everybody else. Pat moved on; he ran the taxi that used to be outside the club all night. It wasn't a bluff, he was inside. He then ran a restaurant. We all ate there; Pat was in the club. You couldn't dream of a guy like this. Pat was just it.

It was probably the most popular win in the history of Irish poker when Big Pat won the Winter Tournament in Dublin a few years ago. Don't tell anyone that that wasn't the Irish championship. We gave him one.

Pat finished up dealing in the Fitzwilliam Club. I didn't get back there often enough. The last serious conversation I had with Pat, he was delighted. Dealing the game he loved, putting a few quid by, paying a few quid back, he was the happiest I'd ever seen him.

Thanks, Big Pat. Thanks for showing us that in poker, as in life, it's not all about the trophies or the money. They're the mirage. Thanks, Pat Crow, it's all about how you play the game. There's a line in Irish: Go neirigh an bothar leat.