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Sunar Or Later

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Jan 01, 2013


The World Poker Tour in Paris used to be a huge deal. These days if you go for a walk you’re likely to trip over a WPT event, but up until a few years ago Paris was the only stop on the tour in Europe and attracted the world’s finest. The atmosphere was electric.

Somehow or other, probably a combination of jetlag and the difficulty of trying to play poker whilst worrying about how much your wife or girlfriend (or both) is spending on shoes on the Champs Elysées, the Europeans’ got way the best of things. As far as I can remember, that’s the way it was in 2004.

The night before the final, a bunch of us were drinking in the early hours with finalist Surinder Sunar, optimistically thinking he might pick up the tab. Drink does strange things to that part of the brain that controls levels of optimism. At about 5 a.m Surinder asked if I was coming in the next day to support him.
I love Surinder, but I’d consider having a testicle removed without anaesthetic
infinitely more fun than watching him play poker for 10 minutes (about half a hand). I must have been out of my tree because somehow or other, ten hours later I was walking up the Champs Elysées towards the Aviation Club swearing I’d never drink again. I postponed the implementation of this plan when I met Dan Heimeiller in the street and he suggested we go for a pint.

I justified this sign of weakness to myself by thinking that the alternative was watching Surinder. It turned out to be a smart move as the club got robbed while we were having the craic and I generally prefer not to be spectating when guys are waving guns around the place.

When I finally arrived in the club Mr Sunar was delighted to see me and insisted the spectators moved around a bit so I could sit right behind him. He also told the garçon that I required two Heineken immediately. I couldn’t figure it out but beer is beer so I went along with the plan.

As soon as I was almost finished the first beer, Surinder ordered two more. The whole thing was way more fun than I thought it would be, partly because of the beer but also Tony G was in the final for the second year in a row. What was even more impressive was that he was drunk as a monkey for the second year in a row also. He wound everyone up which was certainly good for the game. From where I was sitting anyway. He finished second to Surinder eventually but not before both he and I had received warnings from the tournament director.

It was much later that I discovered what was really going on. Surinder is the most superstitious guy in poker and the previous evening he was telling people that someone accidentally spilling any liquid on you was just about the luckiest thing that could happen to you. It had been mentioned that I was world class at that kind of thing and that was good enough for Surinder. What a nut job.

I was banging away in the sixhanded pot-limit Omaha in Cannes a couple of weeks ago. A guy I’d never seen before joined our table and sat down beside me. Being a polite chap, I said hello. He looked at me as though I’d asked him for money or made a derogatory remark about his sister. You get that these days. About 20 minutes later, he poured himself a steaming hot drink and proceeded to spill it all over himself. I swear to God I didn’t laugh. Out loud anyway.

A couple of days later, I was wandering around during a break in the main event and stopped to watch a bracelet ceremony to pass the time. There on the stage singing the Portuguese national anthem was my hot drink spiller. I can’t wait to tell Surinder. ♠

Padraig Parkinson is a World Series of Poker main event finalist and Late Night Poker winner. He writes and Tweets for 888poker.