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RIP Micky Moran. An Unlikely Pioneer.

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Oct 10, '23


Much has been said over the years about Irish bookmaker Terry Rogers bringing no limit poker tournaments to Europe in the early eighties after a chance visit to The WSOP in Binion’s. I should know. I said a lot of it. What doesn’t get talked about is the part played by English players like Micky Moran, Tall Alan Vinson, Mick The Clock Cooke, Surinder Sunar initially and, a little later, Kevin O’Connell, George Geary etc. in building the Irish Open.

The interaction between the Irish players, many of whom had a background in bookmakers shops and snooker clubs, and the London lads who specialized in cynicism and gallows humor created an atmosphere that was simply unique and craic that can’t be reproduced. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

When Micky was around, the atmosphere was electric. A friendship developed between the Irish and English players that has endured since then. You could be walking through the WSOP and hear an Irish guy who has just been accused of being English throwing a wobbly and spouting on about 800 years of oppression. Don’t be fooled. He’s only having the craic. The clue is the English lads are laughing the loudest.

Micky didn’t play all the early Irish Opens due to forgetfulness. He didn’t forget the event was held at Easter every year, but he did sometimes forget to pay VAT on gold he was importing. This was frowned upon by the authorities, so they locked him up every now and then to improve his memory. England is indeed a strange place.

One year, Micky and his crew came to Dublin to play the Irish Open in The Griffen Club in Merrion Square. Micky was in flying form. He drank endless cups of tea and tipped whichever waitress who brought it to him £25 every time. This was well above the usual tip, which was somewhere between £1 and nothing. He caused quite a stir amongst the staff who competed amongst themselves to be the chosen one when Micky next wanted a cuppa. After a couple of days, they were all circling but Micky wasn’t biting. Eventually, one of them cracked and asked him if he’d like a cup of tea. “I’d love one" said Micky “but I can’t afford it”. Vintage Micky Moran.

A year later, the pioneering continued. At that time, the games of choice in Dublin were 7 card stud and dealer’s choice. That all changed one day at the Irish Open when Micky and The Clock introduced us to the joys of Pot Limit Omaha. It was like being introduced to crack cocaine. The Irish loved it and pretty soon PLO had taken over. Even down the country, it took off although they insisted on calling it Burny Turny, for reasons best known to themselves. We hadn’t a clue how to play properly but that didn’t interfere with the craic.

In 2008, Micky had his best ever result when he finished fifth in the televised IPC event in the fantastic Radisson Hotel, in Galway. It was hysterical. On the morning of the main event, a bunch of us were hanging out and eventually someone organized that Micky, Tall Alan, Rory Liffey, Véro, Scott Gray and I would each swap 5 percent with all the others. Fair enough. I must say it was a bit of a surprise when Micky was the last man standing! In fact, he was the only one who cashed. Jesse May and I tried not to sound too surprised in the commentary box as Micky coolly negotiated his way to the final table leaving a string of teacups in his wake. What a buzz! He eventually finished fifth for 25,000. He was delighted. So were we. Later, Micky was giving us all our 5 percent. He did so saying that he’d added a little extra for luck to all our shares. That was the Micky we all knew and loved.

Luckily, I met Micky and The lovely Maria Walker for dinner in London a few years before covid. Maria was a great dealer and even better human being who’d been friends with Micky for years. Micky kept us laughing for a few hours. That’s certainly the way I want to remember him.

I was disappointed I couldn’t attend Micky’s funeral. Maria told me everyone had a Micky story. And they were all true. Micky went out to The Fields Of Athenry, his favorite song. Typical. An English accent but an Irish heart. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.

Micky certainly saw Irish poker grow from a couple of rooms in Hanlons Corner to what it is today. Sadly, he’s not around to witness a new venture which is aiming at adding a bigger buy-in event to the Irish poker calendar. The event is The Irish Poker Festival Millions in first week of November. The buy-in is 3,000 euro. Guarantee 700,000. Venue is Intercontinental Hotel, Dublin. Details online. Good luck.

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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