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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Mar 01, 2008


Looking After Business
In snooker, they often say that the balls don't forgive you. I think they mean that if you haven't been giving it 100 percent, don't expect the luck to go your way when you finally decide to do things right. There's a similar theory in poker. Some think that the cards have a memory and will punish shortcut takers if you give them the chance.

Several years ago there was a club in Dublin (in Rathmines, to be more precise) owned by a guy called Stephen. He had some good traits. For example, when he went to the pub, he always ordered a Black Bushmills family size. Considering most of the barmen in Dublin at the time came from large families, he used to get a lot of respect for this play. On the negative side, he was a first-class idiot when it came to running a poker room. The big problem was that he was a snob. He gave credit based on occupation and postal code rather than real ability to pay and honesty. As you can probably imagine, this wasn't a business model that too many were in a big hurry to copy.

Fortunately for the club, and unfortunately for Slattery's pub next door, Stephen decided to take a long holiday. He left Mick "The Quick,"who had a piece of the action, in charge.

The Quick had his ear to the ground and didn't confuse social status with honesty or financial liquidity. He gave every regular player in the club a credit limit stretching from "do not touch with a 10-foot barge pole" to "£3,000." There were few complaints and business picked up dramatically. Even Slattery's picked up a few extra customers, which cheered them up somewhat after their tragic loss.

Unfortunately for The Quick, he hit a bad run during his triumphant turnaround of the club's fortunes and lost most of what would have been regarded at the time as a substantial bankroll. He had the brains to take a few days off to get his head together before launching a recovery mission. It was working out very well before he made the fatal error that was to come to the attention of the deck.

There was a character around the Dublin scene who went by the name of "Famous" Seamus. It was a nickname that was well-deserved. While Seamus was neither particularly talented nor particularly lucky, he made up for it by possessing a God-given talent to create mayhem in just about any game he cared to play. He dived into a game one night after a visit to the pub, and in no time at all he had lost his cash and used up his £3,000 limit. The main beneficiary was The Quick.

As Seamus put the last of his chips into a pot, obviously taking way the worst of it, The Quick made a crucial error. Instead of looking after business and hanging around to explain to Famous that rules were rules, he left the table and left the club at high speed, leaving the staff to deal with the credit problem. Seamus called for more chips and was ignored by the cashier, as she wished to remind him of the situation in private. Seamus assumed she hadn't heard his cry for help and reached over and took a temporary loan of a thousand from The Quick's stack. Everyone at the table, including the dealer, knew what was going on and cracked up laughing, but this went completely over Seamus' head.

We weren't laughing for long, because in no time at all Seamus had a huge stack in front of him. The Quick returned half an hour later and was surprised to see Seamus still seated at the table, happily informing him that he was playing a thousand behind.

The Quick sat down and was dealt in, and the deck now decided it was punishment time. A monstrous pot soon developed as one of the short stacks and The Quick flopped the nut straight, while Famous had the idiot end of it. When the dust settled, The Quick declared his straight and Seamus told him it was good. It looked for a second as though The Quick had been handsomely rewarded for not looking after business, but at the last second Famous spotted that he'd backdoored the nut flush. To add insult to injury, he announced that he knew he had a backdoor spade draw when he put all of his money in but had forgotten. The dealer was laughing so much that he dropped the deck, and The Quick set an even faster time as he ran from the table to the door again. Famous suddenly remembered an urgent appointment and cashed out, followed shortly by the rest of us, which is how we found out that Seamus' appointment was in Slattery's.

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.