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My Padraig Parkinson Story

by Greg Raymer |  Published: Nov 03, 2021

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Padraig Parkinson in 2006If you don’t know who Padraig Parkinson is, you need to find out. The Irish poker legend is a great follow on Twitter (@padraigpoker), and even better to hang out with in person. I met him soon after having the great fortune to run good at just the right time in 2004, and win that big tournament. I remember doing a fun interview with him at his vacation rental during the World Series of Poker one summer and getting challenged on his indoor putting green. (As I recall, I made the putt!)

While any time spent with Padraig is certain to result in a good story, I wanted to share my favorite. It was around 2005 and I was playing in a European Poker Tour series in Dublin. It was being held in a conference room at a hotel, kind of far from the city center. There was not much near the hotel, but it did have a bar, so that is where most of the “hanging out” was taking place.

I was in there having some “craic” with Padraig and a fun group of blokes. Everyone but me was drinking (I’m allergic to alcohol), a few were drunk, and Padraig was rather well toasted. A young guy approached the group of us with a napkin in his hand, and politely asked for my autograph.

Now, I was happy to give the kid my autograph, but a napkin is really hard to write on. Plus, you just know it is never going to be kept for long. I suggested he get out some cash, as that is easier to sign, looks better, and he might actually keep and display it.

He smiled and agreed, pulling out his wallet and taking out a 5 euro note. As he started to hand it to me, however, Padraig pushed his hand away and started laying into the poor guy. I’m putting the rest in quotes, although these are not necessarily his exact words. But they certainly are accurate with regard to conveying the gist of this story.

“What the fawk is this? FIVE euros? Are you fawking kidding me!?! This is the fawking World Champion! Five euros is a fawking insult!”

Now looking at the rest of the group, Padraig continued, “Would you believe this fawk! Five fawking euro note, and he wants the autograph of the World Champ, for fawks sake!”
Looking back to the poor kid, he continued, “Here’s how you do it!”

With that, Padraig pulled out his wallet, and removed from it a 50 euro note. He handed it to me, and said, “Sign this for the kid.” I made sure he was serious, and signed the bill, handing it to the young man.

Before he could start to thank me, Padraig pulled another 50 from his wallet, and grabbed the pen from my hand. After scribbling something down, he then handed it to me, saying, “Here Champ, this one is special, and it’s for you. It might be worth something someday.”

I look down and was totally gob-smacked. Padraig had autographed the note, and under that, he had added “1957-2009.” Now, keep it mind it was 2005, and it seemed as if Padraig had just indicated he expected to die in four years. I was floored, and refused to accept the note.

Parkinson in 2016 Credit: WPTHe insisted, and as I’ve made clear, he was quite drunk. Finally, I relented. I told him I will accept it on one condition. I would hold onto it until 2010, at which point he will still be alive and spreading joy, and he will accept it back from me. He drunkenly agreed.

Time marched on to 2010. I was at the WSOP in Las Vegas, and ran into Padraig, so I pulled the 50 from my wallet and handed it to him. He asked me what it was, since he didn’t think I owed him any money. I told him to look at it, assuming it would jog his memory. He got a quizzical look on his face, indicating he had zero recollection of the entire incident!

I laughed, he laughed, and I told him the whole story. He seemed rather sheepish about it, but said, “Yeah, back then, that sounds like me,” while putting the cash in his pocket.

In addition to being a top poker player (he finished third in the WSOP main event in 1999), Padraig is a great character, and a kind-hearted man. If you get the chance, spend some time with him, and just listen to his stories. I guarantee you will be better and happier for doing so. Cheers, my friend! I hope your prediction is off by at least another 30 years!

Have fun, and play smart! ♠

Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker main event champion, winner of numerous major titles, and has more than $7 million in earnings. He recently authored FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies, available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. He is sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To contact Greg please tweet @FossilMan or visit his website.