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A Man With a Dream

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Jan 01, 2010


Things were a lot simpler in 1996. There was the Irish Open and a few festivals in the Vic in London. When you travelled to the Vic, you had a choice between gambling on picking up legionnaire’s disease in Sussex Gardens or getting robbed in the Metropole. The Metropole had a bar, so it was no contest. Money management was never my strong suit. The bar was, and still is, one of the worst in the world. I think it was designed by Alcoholics Anonymous to stop people having a good time. Beer was a dangerous choice as using the toilets involved completing a course that triathlon athletes would think twice about. The shrewder customers used the bathroom in their rooms. I’ve seen people fall down stairs, but I’ve never seen anybody fall down an elevator.

It was still all great fun. Every night was party night and there certainly wasn’t any shortage of characters around, plus unfortunately too many guys that thought they could play the piano. I arrived there one night at about 2 o’clock to find a table full of lads going about their business. I knew everyone except for one guy, who was doing a lot of talking. I deduced he was American from the fact that he was talking like he thought everybody was deaf, but he didn’t look like a poker player to me. More like a convention guy who’d sat at the wrong table. He said his name was Mike. Definitely an American. We must have had been in the middle of a string of late ones because by about six o’clock, everyone had wandered off to bed, or else had got lost on the way back from the toilets. Everyone except this Mike guy who could talk for America. And he did.

About four hours later, we were surrounded by coffee drinkers in suits. And by then, I was sure this Mike guy was a complete fruitcake, which was OK because I’m a fruitcake myself. He had a dream about what poker could and would become that was beyond belief. He told me sponsorship was just around the corner, and that within a few years we’d all be playing away on the telly, that from being highly suspicious characters, poker players would be treated as valued members of society. I feared for the man’s sanity but on the plus side, I took a real liking to the guy and hung out with him for the rest of the week and we’ve been good friends ever since. Apparently, his other name was Sexton.

A few years later, Mike and I were at the bar in the Bellagio, having a few beers and watching the ball game, I think it was the Lakers. Mike had half his bankroll on the game and most of the other half on the bar in front of him. He had had a dream. Oh God! He was about to sign a deal with Party Poker and relocate to India for a while. I hadn’t the heart to tell him that the Indians weren’t very big on steak and chips, or maybe I was just in a good mood. His latest brainstorm was an online tournament with a million dollars guaranteed and people could qualify for as little as a couple of bucks. I nearly fell off the stool. It wouldn’t have been the first time. The rest is history. Mike made a small fortune, but that wasn’t what it was all about for this guy. He’d been telling the truth all along. His passion for the game and his love for poker people is what really drives the man and he has gone on to be the greatest ambassador poker could ever have wished for. Putting the man in the Hall of Fame is the least we could have done for him but probably all he wanted from us. Take a bow, Mike Sexton, and thanks!

Every Man has His Price
There may be a recession in Ireland but that doesn’t stop the Irish from loving their poker. BoylePoker is very committed to looking after the little guy and they put their money where their mouth is by again sponsoring the International Poker Open. The buy-in was only $250, so over 1,400 of the most enthusiastic players I’ve ever met showed up, determined to have a good time and get the big-time experience, with a shot at taking on a whole bunch of top pros. They beat us again but reminded us just how much fun it’s all supposed to be. I’m sorry Mike wasn’t there, he would have loved it. 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