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Paddy's Corner

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Mar 02, 2009


England 1 - 1 England

ParisIn the summer of 1998, Paris was the place to be if you liked your football or your poker. If you liked both, it was heaven. England's player A was in both categories. He also had another fairly good reason to be in Paris that summer. The English police wished to speak to him regarding a minor misdemeanour that they thought he might know something about. He also thought he might know something about it, so to be on the safe side he headed for the World Cup and the dealer's choice game in the Aviation Club de France. The Irish understand that one.

English player B was also in Paris. He didn't give a monkey's about the football and wasn't wanted for questioning about anything at the time that he knew about but was stuck into the poker every day, where he and player A developed a bit of a rivalry.

One afternoon, player A and I went to see Nigeria play Bulgaria, had a pleasant dinner and were happily banging away in the biggest game we could find when player B appeared on the scene and casually remarked to me that there were two English policemen at reception, making a few enquiries. Player A, who was in the middle of a pot, dropped his cards and showed a surprising turn of foot as he left the card room in search of a back entrance. He didn't find one but it turned out he didn't really need one because when he reappeared, he found player B having rather a large giggle and I was trying very hard not to laugh myself. It's always way more fun when you're not the target.

It didn't take long for player A to score an equaliser. Player B had been sniffing around one of the waitresses like a dog in heat but she was blanking him every time, and there were lots of times. Player A, pretending to be the waitress, wrote a note to player B explaining that despite appearances she really did like him but it was against the rules of the club for the staff to fraternise with the punters and that it would be great if he could phone her on her home number. He then added his own number to the note and slipped it into the pocket of player B's jacket which was hanging in the cloakroom. Player B was keen as mustard and rang the number the next morning. Player A answered and put on his best "Clouzot" accent and told player B the object of his affection was out and to phone back in a couple of hours. When he did so, the Clouzot voice asked him what his business was with his girlfriend etc…etc... That was the end of the phone calls. It would have been all forgotten about if player A hadn't repeated some of the conversation in the club that evening, shortly after player B arrived. It was one of the better matches of that World Cup, and most observers thought a draw was a fair result.

A Question of Religion

About a week before Scotland played Brazil in the first match of that World Cup, I got a phone call from a friend of mine asking me if I could get a couple of tickets for the game, as a guy he'd done business with, and was retiring, was a big Scotland fan and he wanted to treat him. He also asked me to suggest a good hotel so he could pass this information on to his pal. I suggested the Hotel Concorde Lafayette, purely because the view of Paris from the piano bar on one of the top floors is magnificent. I suggested to my friend that perhaps I could hand over the tickets over a coffee in the Aviation Club, which seemed fancy enough to me.

He nearly had a heart attack and said that his client was a Presbyterian by trade and wouldn't dream of going near a gambling joint, no matter how upmarket. I offered to deliver them to his hotel instead. It turned out that he hadn't taken up my suggestion and had found his own hotel. The address sounded pretty ropey to me, and I was proved right. Some travel agent had stitched him up and booked him into a not very salubrious establishment in Pigalle, right between a sex shop and a sex shop. The guy and his wife were really nice and I would have spent more time with them if I could have wiped the grin off my face. I never could understand religion.

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