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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Oct 01, 2007

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The Biggest Pot I've Ever Seen
Lots of civilians are taking a big interest in poker these days. They want to know what's really going on and aren't afraid to ask. The taxi drivers are the best. They usually tell you they know very little about poker, ask a few questions, answer them themselves, tell you a whole lot of stuff you didn't really want to know, and then charge you €15. Other people normally require an answer or two. One of their favourite questions is, "What's the biggest pot you've ever won or seen?" The real answer is that it's not the size of the pot that's important, but the effect it can have on people's lives.

The biggest life-changing pot I've ever seen was also one of the strangest. It occurred in a TV one-table heat between an Internet qualifier and some guy's mate. The Internet guy and his girlfriend who travelled with him from the U.S. had both just lost their jobs in the same factory, so the chance of making a big score was a little more important for them than for anyone else in the tournament. It looked like just one more broken dream when he hit a big flush on the river but the other guy hit the nuts. Our man bet strongly and, amazingly, the guy with the nuts just called. Try explaining that from the commentary box! I couldn't. An hour later, the inevitable happened: The jobless Internet guy is $5,000 richer and in the semifinal. Seven hours later, he's giving expert advice in the hotel bar. It was one of those great days.

Inasmuch as the semifinal was 10 days after the heat, the guy and his girlfriend had to stay in the hotel in the middle of nowhere, dreaming of a better future. They both seemed quite happy. He drank everything in sight, played sit-and-gos with the lads, and talked up his chances. She was a lot quieter but was happy to hang around the bar, chatting to the lads, while he played. In fact, as the days went on, even I noticed that she seemed to be spending more and more time with one guy in particular. Inasmuch as part of this guy's job description was to keep the Internet qualifiers amused, I was very impressed with his dedication, and thought he'd go far. He did.

The semis came around and our man ran out of luck. Despite a good start, he finished sixth and didn't add one cent to the $5,000 he'd won already. Lots of the people working on the show were hoping he'd go a bit further. Everyone loves an underdog, especially one who's down on his luck. And it didn't stop there. Two months later, the lad who'd been hanging around with his girlfriend packed in his job and flew off westward to marry her.

The next time someone asks me about the biggest pot I've ever seen, I'll probably tell them the first figure that comes into my head, but I'll really be thinking that three people's lives were changed because some muppet didn't raise with the nuts on the river.

White Noise
Some guys seem to think that the fact that they have a microphone in their hand means they've suddenly become great entertainers and don't want to let their public down by not using it constantly. This can be pretty irritating, especially at the World Series of Poker when a whole lot of guys are tooled up in the same room. That said, there were a few classics.

On day one (D), some clown interrupted the main event in the middle of a level to introduce some politician from Florida, who proceeded to make a speech that lasted about six minutes. Some tables played on, others didn't. A couple of the guys at my table weren't very impressed, but it was all made worthwhile when one guy said that this had to be good news, because it indicated that they were possibly going to give democracy a try in Florida.

Later, they wanted us to give a round of applause to some 94-year-old guy, the oldest player in the tournament. I was sure at the time that it must be Willie Tann, but fortunately couldn't get a bet on quick enough.

Then, they wanted Freddy Deeb to stand up for a round of applause because he'd won the H.O.R.S.E. event. I like Freddy, and I was quite happy he'd won (though Bruno Fitoussi would have been a better result because that would have pissed off the Americans and the French!), but asking him to stand up for the applause was ridiculous. Everyone knows that Freddy is the only player in the world who's exactly the same height whether sitting down or standing up.

Padraig Parkinson is well-known on the European poker scene, both for his poker prowess and sense of humour. He was one bluff away from winning the 1999 World Series of Poker, but unfortunately got called.