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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Apr 01, 2008

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Called to the Bar in Galway
Some of the biggest names in Irish, English, European, and American poker turned up in the west of Ireland in January to attend a celebration of being alive, cleverly disguised as the PartyPoker Irish Poker Championship. The locals kicked ass and sent the big names home a little poorer but happy at being reminded that, played in the right spirit, big-time poker can still be a lot of fun.

Lots of the invaders didn't help their chances by turning up several days early, looking for a party. They found one. Mad Marty, a man with an English brain and an Irish heart, was in the middle of it, as usual. On New Year's Eve, as the poker players hung around the bar in our hotel, he and the DJ organised a dancing competition for a few dozen female Dublin old-age pensioners. Marty wasn't allowed to take part himself, on the basis that he was of the wrong sex, though several people made a case for him on the grounds that he should have gotten pensioned off years ago. The winner, a little old lady of about 85, was awarded Marty's star prize - a skipping rope. She was delighted.

Marty didn't shut up for days. He told story after story. As usual, they got longer and less believable as the week went on. Ciarán O'Leary enjoyed the first half-dozen or so yarns immensely. But he's from Cork and likes to talk himself. When Marty is in full flow, this isn't an option, so O'Leary took to staring sadly at his pints. Marty doesn't tolerate anything less than 100 percent enthusiasm from his victims or audience, as he likes to call them, so he asked O'Leary if something was wrong. "Yes," said Ciarán, "I was feeling a little down because I just remembered that my uncle died tragically four years ago today."

"What happened to him," enquired Wilson.

"Well," replied O'Leary, "for years he had this habit of lighting a cigarette, taking three or four puffs, and then grinding it into the ground with his foot. He'd repeat this process every 10 minutes, and that's how he died."

"Did he die of cancer?" asked Marty, looking quite concerned.

"Yes," said O'Leary "cancer of the foot."

Bar Talk
The bar is always a pretty good place to be at an Irish tournament. That's where I was right after the tournament finished, having a drink with Sean Fagan. This is also a good idea if you've got a sense of humour. We were joined by Colette Murphy, who'd battled to make the money without much help from the dealers. She described her day to Sean as follows: "I never once got a decent hand all day, and the odd time I did get one, nobody called." Did I mention she is Irish?

Joking Apart
Mike Sexton had been threatening to come to the Galway races for years, so when he heard his sponsor PartyPoker was behind the Galway event, he was in. Party had asked the organisers to give him and his wife, Karen, the VIP treatment. So, Fintan Gavin booked the best suite in the hotel for them. It was pretty impressive. We had a little time on our hands, so we decided to pass it by winding Fintan up. I phoned him and told him Mike wasn't very happy with his accommodation, and that he had, in fact, said that he had a doghouse at home that was bigger than his room.

Fintan went into a class-A panic and said he'd sort things out immediately. He phoned the hotel manager and told him that the way Mr. Sexton was being treated was a disgrace. The manager was a little surprised, and said that according to his computer, Mike was classified as a VIP 2 customer and was in the best suite in the hotel. He explained that only the president had a higher VIP rating. This didn't help.

Fintan told him that he didn't very much care where the president slept or what the man's computer said, and suggested that he get up off his arse and find out what was going on in his hotel (these weren't his exact words). He phoned me back and told me he was on the case in a big way. I passed the phone to Mike, who thanked Fintan profusely for the arrangements he'd made for them. Fintan was pleased that it was a false alarm until he remembered the precise words he'd used in discussing the matter with the hotel manager. He phoned the manager again and explained what had happened, hoping that he was talking to someone with a sense of humour. He wasn't!

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.