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People in Glass Houses

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Dec 01, 2009


The World Series of Poker Europe may not have been a huge success numbers wise but the small fields certainly help to make it a lot of fun. In the £2,500 event, I got drawn at a table where I not alone knew everybody but was on speaking terms with every player at the table. It was more like a tea party than a poker tournament.

The £5,000 Omaha wasn’t any better. I got a table that included five guys who’d made the final two tables in the previous year’s event and a couple of guys I didn’t know but should have known.

Barney Boatman was in the middle of it and when he wasn’t in a pot, was providing most of the entertainment. He eventually finished up playing every pot but kindly changed tactics and was involved in all the banter anyway. His finest moment came when he told us a joke that he credited to some Scottish comedian called Boyle. Apparently, this guy was going on about Obama one night. He said that every time he appeared in public (when he wasn’t making Sarkozy look like a dwarf) he was surrounded by bullet proof glass. Our man thought that this stank of racism on the grounds that just because the US president was black, that doesn’t mean he’s going to start shooting people.

Make a Wish
Paul Zimbler, also known as “The Marbella Kid”, probably because he went there on holiday once, hosted the The Poker Show Live a couple of weeks before the WSOPE. He announced that he was going to try to set a new world record for non-stop heads-up play. I was surprised when I heard that the previous record was only about three days. Most poker players over the age of 40 can claim to have played some very long sessions in the days when you started to play when you could get a game going and finished when you ran out of either money, credit, or customers. Paul had taken advice from medical people and dieticians on how best to ensure that he completed his task though, to be honest, I have found that being stuck about €20,000 is more than enough to get a man’s attention for as long as it takes.

About 24 hours into his record attempt, Jesse May and I went upstairs in the Empire casino to take our shot. Jesse was very enthusiastic about the upcoming Caesars Cup (the North America Vs. Europe poker team event) so in honour of that event, we tag teamed him with Jesse playing preflop and the turn after looking at our cards whilst I played the flop and the river on the blind. It’s not as bad a system as it may appear because I’ve got a serious tell on Jesse.

As we were walking away, Jesse was a little concerned that Paul might come up short on the grounds that he appeared to be hallucinating and rabbiting on about nothing after just one day but I put his mind at rest when I pointed out that this was nothing out of the ordinary for Zimbler. I was proved right. With the help of the Betfair lads and Lucas from Full Tilt, Paul achieved his goal and set his record and had the pleasure of playing most of the world’s best players. Far more importantly, he raised at least £40,000 for some marvellous charities. If there were more Paul Zimbler’s around, the world would be a better place, for sure.

After a well-deserved sleep, Paul joined us at the bar the day before the main event. He mentioned that he wasn’t in the event though he’d love to play it. One of the charities he’d raised money for was the “Make-a-Wish” people, who make dreams come true for sick children.

Someone just had to point out to Paul that he could get into the main event no problem, all he had to do was say that he’d spoken to a sick little girl who’s dearest wish was that Paul Zimbler played the £10,000 main event at the WSOPE. It’s not easy being a good guy. Spade Suit

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