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Irish Stu

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Mar 06, '13

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On our recent tour of Ireland, Scott Gray and I visited casinos, clubs, pubs and backrooms all over Ireland, playing with guys who play for the love of the game. It was great craic.

At every venue, we were giving away 888 gear as spot prizes to the bubble, high hand, 7-2 winners etc but in Claremorris, a guy suggested the main prize go to the first guy who had to go to the cash machine! That’s the Irish for you.

We were asked all the usual questions like “How good is Ivey?” and “Is Helmuth for real?” etc, but I was surprised at how many guys wanted to talk about the great Stu Ungar. I’d only played an hour or two with him, which was fine by me. His buddy Mike Sexton had advised me to stay well out of his way and I did!

Scott had played with him in a big no-limit hold’em game in Binions back in the day. Stuey was obviously between bankrolls at the time, as there was a large gentleman sitting behind him who was hugely interested in proceedings.

As a result of this setup, Scott ran a bluff on the river in a big pot against him. He said he’d never have done it if the big guy wasn’t supervising Stueys play. Stu squirmed a few times, looked at Scott, looked at the pot, looked at the big guy, looked at the pot again, looked at the big guy again and mucked his hand.

Being a gentleman, Scott showed the bluff.

Stu tapped the table and complimented Scott on his play. Well, that’s not exactly what happened. Stu stood up, screamed “I fucking knew it” a couple of times and ran out of the room. For the next week, he followed Scott around challenging him to a heads-up match (a good internet play). There was no chance of that happening, so they became friends for life!

In 1981, Stu was one of the big names who travelled to Ireland for a star-studded event that kicked off big time tournament poker in Europe. At one stage Doyle, who was also on that trip, included him in his list of the top five players in the world.

He liked that but was less than pleased when he also included him in his list of the top five steamers!

It’s a shame Stu is no longer with us. He could have joined us on our Irish tour. He’d have loved Claremorris. If Doyle was right, he’d have either won all the money or at least got an 888 shirt for first visit to the cash machine. A win-win situation!

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.

 
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