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Barny Inspires Another Generation

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Apr 12, '24


Back in 1999, the late Rob Gardner and Presentable were the visionaries who brought poker from the back room to our living rooms when they ran tournament called Late Night Poker, made for tv.

Under the table cameras allowed viewers to see each player’s cards and Jesse May’s excited commentary got the audience, many of them just home from the pub, involved even if they’d never played the game. Luckily The Devilfish, a larger than life character, won the first LNP series, beating a mixture of good players, a few eccentrics and a few guys who just wanted to be on tv. It was perfect. The future of LNP was assured and some people were quicker and smarter than others and saw the commercial opportunities that the rest of us didn’t.

People like The Hendon Mob, a group of four London players led the charge. The name was fantastic and the website that followed was a work of art. It also provided Barny Boatman with the perfect platform to showcase his great sense of humor, which certainly helped. The lads negotiated a gig sponsorship deal with Prima, which had them playing big tournaments all over the place for free. Living the dream!

From there, they moved on with a great deal with Full Tilt Poker. Barny and the lads became popular visitors to the Irish Open and Joe Beevers won the title in 2003. The Full Tilt collapse didn’t deter Barny and Ross, who continued to show up every year. Neither of them has yet won the Open, but Barny got a decent consolation prize of over half a million, and a WSOP bracelet in 2013, when he won one of those big field 1500 NLH events. I watched most of the final table alongside Ross (of Eastenders fame), which was great craick as ever.

In 2008 Rob Gardner, Jesse and Mickey May and I were making The Poker Show twice a week from the WSOP in Vegas. It was broadcast on TV in The UK and also available on "": One day, Mike Sexton and Barny were our guests. How could it go wrong? Barny decided he wanted to appear as The Unknown Poker Player and disguised his identity by wearing a brown paper bag on his head. I loved it. Mainly because it wasn’t my idea. It turned out great. The Unknown Player predicted that he’d win The Main Event and lots of other stuff. The look on Mike Sexton’s face was priceless. Fast forward to 2013 when Barny won his first bracelet, he was far from the type of player The Unknown Poker Player represented. It was a popular win, especially for the generation who had been inspired by Barny and the LNP pioneers.

A few years later, Barny won the 500 dollars PLO WSOPE event and another bracelet. Not bad! Barny is not the type to meander into his sixties, play a few seniors and superseniors events and bitch about how there’s no characters left in the game. He kicked on at what he’d been doing and last year, while in town for the Open, dropped in to the Sporting Emporium to play a few hands and have the craic. His buddy John Duthie had visited us the year before and gone on to run deep in the WSOP Main Event. Barny was to do even better than that.

A couple of weeks ago, I was told that he was in Paris for an EPT event. A couple of days after that some guys told me he was doing okay, so I started to pay a little attention to what was going on. It was a joy to watch. Some guy raised, flopped a flush draw and bet. Barny called with top pair (jacks). After a brick on the turn, he bet again. Barny called. Rag paired on the river. Guy stuck Barny in for big chunk. Barny called all-in. And won. Guy didn’t take it very well. To say the least. He criticised Barny for risking his tournament life with “just a pair of jacks”. Barny told him it was only his tournament life, not his real life!

Barny told me a couple of days later that the guy was a bit optimistic if he thought he could upset him, as he was stacking up eight million in chips! The guy tried one last insult. He asked Barny if he was Irish. You couldn’t make it up. Barny said he’d visited Ireland so much he thought he must have a bit of Irish in him at this stage! Brilliant. Next day, a 68 years old Barny won EPT Paris and 1.3 million. I think he got a trophy too. I was shocked. I thought he was 70.

It was fantastic stuff. The Irish loved it. He can have a passport any time he likes. The older guys in particular loved it. Not just because he’d been playing here lots over the years. He’d just taught us that poker life doesn’t end when you hit a certain age. He let us know it’s okay to dream, no matter what age you are. And it’s okay to try and make your dreams come true. Thanks Barny. That’s a hell of a gift you’ve given us. Little while later Barny signed with Pokerstars. I wish them both well.

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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