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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Jul 06, 2005


You Lose Some, You Win Some

Ireland's Liam Flood recently pulled off two of the greatest coups of his long career, within the space of a few short weeks. For a man who thought he was dying, Liam's come back with a bang. His first great accomplishment was the introduction of the €2 cup of coffee at the recent Irish Open. The Irish Open is steeped in history. It's the oldest tournament in Europe and was founded by Terry Rogers, who introduced Texas hold'em this side of the water. It used to be held in the old Eccentrics Club in Dublin and was famous for the great spirit in which the game was played and the lavish hospitality provided by Mr. Rogers. Even if you were financially embarrassed, you could always turn up to the old Eccentrics Club and get a free meal, as much tea or coffee as you could drink, and listen to war stories from Terry himself.

At the recent Irish Open I decided to have a cup of coffee. The craic in the bar was great as ever, but as that avenue of entertainment isn't open to me at the moment, I decided to join the English and have a cup of coffee. I went up to the girl at the refreshment counter and ordered a cup. Five or six English guys immediately got in line behind me, because if there's anything that the English like better than a cup of tea, it's a queue. The young lady handed me my coffee and said, "That will be €2, please." I nearly collapsed in astonishment, but not wanting to let myself down in front of the English, I gave her a fiver and told her to keep the change. Just as she took my money, there was an incredibly loud noise. This was like mothers' milk to the English, who could now indulge in their other favorite pastime, discussing the weather. "Was that thunder I've just heard?" asked one of them. "No," I replied, "it was just Terry Rogers turning in his grave."

Spurred on by this success and completely undaunted by the fact that he was first man out of the Irish Open and a major event the following week, Liam, to everybody's surprise, stumped up $14,000 to play in a PartyPoker televised event. Though there's still great speculation as to what happened to the rest of the coffee money, Liam produced an inspired performance. The stamina-sapping two-day tournament may no longer be the forte of the former European champion, but he's still a formidable force in the four- or five-hour one-table version of poker. He beat Phillippa Flanders and Lawrence Gosney in his heat, only to be rewarded with a very dodgy draw in the semifinals, stuck in a tough spot between Tony Bloom and Tony G. Liam came through with flying colors and went to the final table with a healthy stack. He finished a magnificent second and was denied a great shot at victory only by a cruel runner-runner.

I watched this from the commentary box, and luckily it wasn't live, so they were able to edit out my comments when the river arrived. Nevertheless, it was a great achievement by Liam and was the biggest win of his career. When I arrived in the hotel bar later, Liam was celebrating in true Irish style. He mightn't be any good at drinking, but he was certainly no slouch when it came to buying them. The party was in full swing and Liam asked me what I'd have. I was about to order a Coca-Cola, when my mind went back to the Irish Open. "Thank you, Liam," I replied. "I'll have a cup of coffee, please."

Best-Kept Secrets

It was at the Irish Open that I discovered two of the best-kept secrets around. One is that poker, the fastest growing sport in the world, is one of the very few sports at which the Irish can compete at the highest level. This is a secret only in Ireland. The other is that highly respected poker player Dave Colclough is the unluckiest player around.

You're never going to see World Poker Champion Noel Furlong or Donnacha O'Dea being brought to Lansdowne Road by sponsors of Irish rugby to spice up the event for the media – and rightly so.

The thought of Furlong and O'Dea being parachuted into an Irish team would make a mockery of the game. The reverse happened at the Irish Open. As a sports fanatic, it grieves me to have to say this, but apart from the little guys on horses, poker is far and away our best sport in terms of international successes. The Irish are highly respected and welcomed all over the poker world, and despite fixture congestion, all the top Irish pros still turned up to contest their national open championship.

I can guarantee you that most of them would turn up if the prize fund were only three quid; it's the title that most of them want more than any other. Also present amongst these Irish World and European titleholders were such superstars of the game as Julian Gardner and Dave Colclough.

The betting firm Paddy Power is new to both poker and poker sponsorship in Ireland, and a long-term relationship between them and Irish poker could prove fruitful for both sides. Imagine my surprise, and the surprise of just about every senior Irish poker pro, when I discovered that the sponsor's idea of publicizing the event was to stick a number of members of the Irish rugby team into the event for publicity purposes. What is the media supposed to think? If you witnessed the media hysteria that took place recently in Copenhagen when World Champion Greg Raymer, WPT star Gus Hansen, and all the major stars of European poker turned up to play, you'd appreciate just how ludicrous it was to turn the Irish Open into a glorified pro-am. Pro-am events are fine for a bit of a laugh and should be treated as such, and I hope that with the experience gained, the sponsors will discover that poker is a serious game and not a sponsor's toy.

Another Internet site recently sponsored the 2000 Guineas, one of the classic horse races of the season, and they contented themselves with having their sponsored player, The Devilfish, present the trophy rather than having him cause havoc by riding a pantomime horse across the field at the two-furlong pole. I can't help feeling that somebody should have told Paddy Power beforehand, for everybody's benefit.

What's this got to do with Dave Colclough being unlucky? Well, he's the only Welshman to line up against the Irish rugby team this year and not walk away with the silverware.

Own Goal

The night before the big tournament at Bellagio, Julian Gardner and I went for dinner with John "Schofe" Sheffield, who as usual had a joke.

The story is as follows: An American in New York kept hearing a voice every morning telling him to sell everything and go to Las Vegas. After several weeks, he began to believe there must be something to this, so he sold the lot and headed for Sin City. "Buy into the $10,000 event at the World Series of Poker," was the next instruction the voice gave in his head. He did. On the very first hand, he got dealt two black aces. The first player raised and the next player went all in. Oh, good. "Call," said the voice. The man called, as did the original raiser. The flop came down J-10-9, all hearts. "Oops!" said the voice.

Julian thought this story hilarious, but he didn't think it quite so funny the next day. He got the red aces, and after a raise and a reraise, the flop came down J-10-8, all clubs. And that was the end of Julian's $25,000. Next year, we're having dinner on our own.

Padraig Parkinson is well-known on the European poker scene, both for his poker prowess and sense of humour. He was but one bluff away from winning the 1999 WSOP, but unfortunately got called. Padraig co-authored the manual The Secrets of Online Power Poker, available at