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Only in Galway

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Aug 19, '13

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If you like gambling, the craic and the company of people whose sanity is at best questionable, you’d love the endurance test that is The Galway Races. Just to complicate an almost impossible obstacle course, Fintan Gavin, Dave Curtis and Full Tilt got together to add an extra week to the festival by erecting a tented village and staging a UKIPT event etc. Its rumoured that the DPP are currently deciding on whether to charge them with attempted murder. If they’re not, they should be!

I was pleasantly shocked when I noticed that one of the horse races was called the Sean “Budgie” Burgess Memorial in honour of an old friend of mine who passed away not so long ago. It brought back some great memories Burgess was one of the worst gamblers I’ve ever met but was so enthusiastic he could get you into all sorts of trouble. Years ago, we travelled together to Galway for race week. We had to stop at various hostelries along the way to check on the progress of Stephen Roche in the Tour de France. All was going fine till we got to within about twenty miles of our destination. Sean asked me if thick black smoke coming out of the back of a car was a big problem. Why he was asking me, I will never know, but I noticed the car he was talking about was ours. Sean parked the car, grabbed our suitcases and we walked to the nearest service station. Sean explained our predicament to the girl working there and politely asked if shed mind making a phone call for us. “Is it a tow truck you’d be after”, she asked. “"No,” replied Sean, “A taxi”. That just about sums the guy up.

It wasn’t just poker that was being played in the tent. I played an event called the World Twenty Five Championship. It was a massive overlay so loads of people played who’d never played the game before. I hadn’t played in 40 years but was giving Andy Black a three minute lesson. This is a game designed by a sadist. You play as an individual but have to legally collude with the other players to nobble the poor bastard who is in the lead. There is a scoring system but the main object of the exercise seems to be to have as many rows with as many people as possible. The guys at my table were a good laugh so we didn’t get around to the fighting bit but were enjoying Andy’s performance at the adjoining table. He managed to get involved in a row with the lady sitting beside him. She walked away but eventually returned. Fintan later introduced me to her. She is his mother. Nice one Andy!

One of the best poker lessons you could get is by watching legendary draw poker player Dennis Winters work a room in Galway. He is an absolute genius at getting into the best game in the place. His customers mightn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of beating him but they all have a great time and keep coming back for more. A forgotten art. One of the Cork lads told me Dennis was once asked if he’d ever had a job. “I did,”, he replied “and I can honestly say it was the worst two days of my life”.

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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