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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Nov 30, 2008


A Bad Day for the Goliaths

The Irish like a laugh, and we certainly got one when Irish poker operator Fintan Gavin got the big end of the deal when coming second at the recent Barcelona European Poker Tour event to German pro Sebastian Ruthenburg. It was the single biggest take-home score in the history of Irish poker. Andy Black won a couple of hundred thousand more for his World Series of Poker final table, but being a poker player, had shareholders. Nobody in their right mind would buy a piece of Fintan, or contemplate a swap, so Fintan had 100 percent of himself. If this was part of a master plan, it worked perfectly.

As usual with Fintan, there's a story behind a story, behind a story. He phoned me a couple of days before Barcelona to see if I was going (maybe he wanted to swap). I told him it was way too expensive and asked him what the hell he was doing going there. The answer was quite complicated, which didn't surprise me one bit. Apparently, he'd won a seat online for Monte Carlo for a $200 investment. Fintan saw a window of opportunity (he usually does, but sometimes they're locked doors), and dived straight in. He thought that if he said he couldn't make it to Monte Carlo and arranged to play another EPT event instead, he might get the balance of the value of his package in cash. Like a lot of Fintan's plans, this didn't quite work out, so he ended up having to play two EPT events. You can't blame a man for trying. I wished him luck and, not surprisingly, never considered even a small investment in his venture. Apparently, Fintan's wife, Fiona, didn't fancy his chances too much, either. Before he left for Barcelona, she very nicely told him that he didn't really have a poker player's temperament, and inasmuch as he was already working seven days a week running the Eglinton Club in Galway and working on the Irish Poker Championship and its associated tour, it might be a good idea if he left poker playing off the menu. And inasmuch as they have two young kids, this made a lot of sense, even to Fintan.

I was in a pub in Dublin a few days later during a break in the Connelly's charity event in aid of Console when phone calls and texts started coming through. Fintan was doing the business in Barcelona and was marching toward the final table. Half of Galway were headed for Shannon Airport at 5 in the morning, which may explain why the final table was more like a riot scene than a poker occasion. Fintan turned up in a Barcelona shirt. They may well sue. The least he could have done was wear their goalkeeper's jersey. Their support was great, but I'm told that when deal time came around, they weren't really in great shape to be advising anybody about anything, other than maybe the waiter that if he speeded up, the tips would be better. Several hours later, the German had the trophy and Fintan was almost a millionaire. The lovely Fiona sent him a text saying she was prepared to reconsider.

Well done, Fintan Gavin. You're a shining example to those who subscribe to the theory that success is much more likely to come to those who keep climbing back on the horse than to those who think it's OK to cry into their pints.

Anyone for Tennis?

Willie TannThere's no shortage of Willie Tann stories. I've heard a lot of them, but Boyle Poker's Paul Spillane told me one at the WSOP Europe that ranks up there with the best of them. Just in case anybody doesn't know the legend that is my friend Willie Tann, he's a magnificent tournament player, an average sports punter, and a disaster at the dice. You get the idea. Paul and Willie were in a lift in the hotel at the Aussie Millions a few years ago. If you have money in your pocket, it's not a great spot.

The lift stopped and in stepped Roger Federer, who was in town for the Australian Open. Willie wasted no time in asking him if he was going to win. Federer politely replied that he'd certainly be doing his best. This was no good to Willie. "That's not what I needed to know. I need to know if you're going to win," said Willie. The lift stopped again and in stepped Chris Ferguson. He ignored Federer, but gave Willie a very big hello, indeed. By the time the hello had finished, Federer had escaped. He went on to win the tournament. I don't know how Willie did.

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. Padraig Parkinson plays at and is sponsored by