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Who the Hell is Furlong?

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Sep 07, '08


I used to lose lots betting on the basketball playoffs during the World Series. I know nothing about basketball but it was great fun. When the dates got changed, I was horrified until I realised ESPN planned to cover the 2006 soccer World Cup and subsequently the 2008 European Championship. I didn't know they knew soccer was a sport, especially because the Americans aren't very good at it. Imagine my surprise when I found that they had an Irish guy doing the commentary on all the big games. He would probably have had trouble getting a job over here, just because of his accent. I never really could decide whether to turn the sound off or listen to his words of wisdom whilst wondering how the hell he ever got the job. At least I knew what he was saying.

Ciaran O'Leary phoned me the other day and told me he just watched Marty Smyth's WSOP final table on ESPN. What a joke. Marty would be the first guy to tell you that Irish bridge superstar Tom Hanlon was probably the best Omaha player at the table. ESPN only showed his exit hand. To be fair, they hadn't time to show much else as they were so busy showing the Grinder and one of the Pham lads. The Grinder's hold'em record speaks for itself but to be fair I'd have a better chance of being the first Irish astronaut on Mars than he would have of being accused of being an Omaha player.

At one stage, half the crowd burst out laughing after he called Billy the Croc. I assumed this hand didn't make the cut because you can't show the crowd laughing at an American, can you? It must have been a complete pain in the ass for the Yanks when an Irish guy and a Canadian played heads-up for the title. The best laid plans etc… Where is Phil Hellmuth when you need him? According to Ciaran, when an ecstatic Irish crowd was singing "You'll never beat the Irish", the American commentators were reduced to asking what the Irish had ever won. If they really don't know, I wish the lad who's doing the soccer all the best. At least he knows what he's talking about.

Stereotyping Can be Good
I was playing a tournament with TJ Cloutier a few years ago in the Bellagio. He made a great call and afterwards explained to me that he played with the other guy before. TJ's great record as a tournament player, he'd tell you himself, is based on remembering every guy he's played against and exactly how he plays. I can barely remember what I had for lunch.

After a break, I sat down at the wrong table and passed a hand and then raised the next one before somebody told me I wasn't supposed to be there. I'm probably not going to be the next TJ. Knowing players is an art form that's had better days. These days in a big event you're more likely than not to be at a table where you only know one or two guys at most. You've got to start guessing. Just like the internet. Like an Irish guy is likely to be drunk. With the Finns, it's practically guaranteed! An English guy is liable to be in love with himself. A guy from Houston will probably bet anything. And so on… It's not an exact science but it's better than playing in the dark. Jesse May is an extraordinary player. While commentating, he gives the impression that he has little idea what's going on. He keeps asking the colour guy questions. The truth is that he probably knows the answer better than the stiff beside him. I think it's called professionalism.

Padraig is currently involved with Jesse May in hosting Irish Pub Poker Tours for medium-sized corporate groups. For info you can contact him on Twitter @padraigpoker.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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