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Three Wishes

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Mar 01, 2010


One night, after poker in London’s Victoria Casino, a bunch of us were having a few pints in the Metropole Hotel. Mike Sexton said that it was his wish that every serious poker player got to play the main event at the World Series of Poker at least once in their lives and got one shot at experiencing the unique buzz of playing a final table in a bracelet event.

To be honest, we were all a bit surprised that anyone could have a wish that involved somebody else winning something, but we got used to him after a while. With online qualification, the main event wish is very achievable these days and if Harrah’s go through with their plan to have 430 bracelet events every year, the second part shouldn’t be a problem either.

Years later, we were having a few pints of the black stuff in O’Connor’s pub in Doolan (arguably the best pub in Ireland) and Mike added a third wish to the list — everyone should have the pleasure of playing at least one major event in Ireland. Anyone who played either the recent Paddy Power Poker Irish Winter Festival in Dublin or PokerStars Irish Poker Championship in Galway will know just what he meant. The Irish never consider themselves beaten, it’s more just a case of running out of chips until the next time. With the Irish economy deep in the shit, only hard work from sponsors and organisers make major tournaments feasible these days but on the plus side, the fact that there are so many qualifiers in these events adds even more to the craic as so many people have very little to lose.

Behind Closed Doors
The funniest moment at the IPC occurred the day before the tournament began. Last year, there was an unfortunate breach in security and extra tournament chips magically appeared in play as day two progressed. The good news for the homeless in Galway was that the organisers made a very generous contribution to Galway Simon [homeless charity] to make up for their error.
Mike Sexton
Big hearted as they are, there was absolutely no chance of a repeat performance. Fintan Gavin, the main man, had everything under control and was proudly showing the PokerStars people around the venue. As the tour progressed, Fintan was becoming more and more impressed with himself and began to run off at the mouth a little more than was absolutely necessary. When his little group came to the door of the room in which the tournament chips were to be kept he made a little speech to the effect that security was Fort Knox-like and that only he and one of the girls on his staff had access to this room. He theatrically unlocked the door and threw it open, expecting his audience to be impressed. As with a lot of Fintan’s plans, it didn’t quite work out, mainly due to the fact that there were five guys sitting around a table having a laugh, surrounded by tournaments chips. This is a story that will be told for years around the bars at Irish tournaments. It’s highly likely that very few of the narrators will bother to mention that the guys in the room had actually just delivered the chips. The Irish were never great believers in letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

A Slip of the Tongue
On the first morning in Galway, I bumped into popular and noisy Irish player Phil Baker. He was undoubtedly the happiest guy in the place as he’d just received the great news that his recent thyroid operation had been a complete success and he’d got the “all clear” from his doctors. He couldn’t wait to tell me that while a lot of Irish players had expressed delight at his good news, a long list of them had added that it mightn’t have been a bad idea if the surgeon’s scalpel had slipped a little to the right and done a job on his vocal chords.

If you’ve ever had to sit beside Phil at a poker table, you’ll know just where they are coming from. He can add the name of Vinny Cosgrove to that list. Vinny made the final table of the main event and was sitting there minding his own business as Phil announced the finalists to the crowd. He was a little surprised when Phil said that he had just won €22,400 in the Irish Winter Festival main event, especially as he hadn’t played it (Phil had gotten a bit mixed up between Vinny and Paul Dooley). To make matters worse, Mrs. Cosgrove was on the rail and seemed quite surprised that Vinny hadn’t told her about that particular upturn in the family fortunes. 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