Padraig's Poker News
IRISH OPEN ENTRIES
A lot of you have asked us about Irish Open satellites. As usual we listen and react to what you’re telling us.
We don’t want to dilute our weekly events by staging normal satellites but are happy to do what we did last year i.e. guarantee the cash value of an Irish Open entry to first place finisher on Monday 12th February.
We will continue to do that on Mondays if that’s what you want. We’d be delighted to hear your thoughts. If they’re negative tell Luke. If they’re positive feel free to talk to me about it!
LIVE MUSIC IN GALWAY AND FUN IN SPORTING EMPORIUM
Galway has always been a magnet for gamblers and poker players from home and abroad. Whether you’re traveling for the iconic Race Week, the annual horseracing festival with poker around the clock in the Eglinton Club, or one of Fintan’s magical poker festivals, it’s advisable to arrive fresh as it can be difficult to sleep there because of the fear you might miss something.
Normally, the craic doesn’t start until you get to town, but this year the craic surrounding the Irish Poker Tour in association with Paddypower Poker Galway event got off to a flying start on the train. Luckily, Mary was with me and Dublin player Peter was seated nearby so I have witnesses. Otherwise, you might be tempted to think I have lost my mind completely when I tell you what happened.
It all started as we were approaching Athenry group of elderly gentlemen talked an old guy who was about the size of a 2 litre Coke bottle into playing a tune on his harmonica. He stood in the middle of the carriage and started to play The Fields of Athenry with great gusto. The passengers started to sing along. Some of them even knew some of the words. By the end of the tune, the whole carriage was in full voice and gave the little guy a huge ovation. The guy mightn’t give Neil Young sleepless nights but at least he was there. For an encore, he played a jig. He not alone played it, but performed one as well. A kind of a Riverdance moment. This was considered a popular move by his new fans who further encouraged him by stamping on the floor, banging on tables and whooping at appropriate intervals.
I was thinking what a boost it could be to the tourist industry if this kind of entertainment could be added to future train journeys. I was also wondering if this guy had an agent when a guy who’d obviously misunderstood Irish Rail’s alcohol consumption policy approached our hero, told him to shut up (not his exact words) and proceeded to grab him by the throat. There was no shortage of volunteers to jump to the musician’s aid but the attacker’s wife appeared and told him to sit down before they all got thrown off the train (not her exact words either). They sat down to a chorus of boos from the audience. It was pantomime season after all! But the show wasn’t over yet. The musician spent a few moments checking his larynx and stuff like that and when he was satisfied all was well walked down to where his attacker was seated.
He stopped right beside him and told him they were only having a bit of fun and most certainly had no intention of annoying anyone and that he was sorry if he’d taken offence. I’d like to tell you the attacker apologized too and it all ended with a handshake but that’s not quite what happened. Instead, he just said “You started it” (I think I missed a word). The audience started laughing hysterically and were still laughing when we got to Galway. And that didn’t disappoint either!
The craic in the Sporting Emporium has been good as ever. We had a student’s night in January which was great fun considering it took place right at the height of Storm Isha. One of our aims when we restarted poker in the club was to revive the spirit of fun that was the hallmark of Irish poker in the eighties. If it’s left up to this lot we will be fine.
Before Christmas I rang the godmother of Irish poker, the great Colette Doherty. In the seventies, Colette not alone crashed the party when she dared to take on the best male players in Ireland but she consistently beat them. That shut a few people up for sure. She won the first ever Irish Open and later won it again to shut up a few more. I have played with, dined with and laughed with Colette in Dublin, London, Las Vegas and Paris and it was always an education as well as being great fun.
Colette hasn’t been out too much since lockdown so I was surprised and delighted when she agreed to pre-Christmas lunch. Over a fun few hours Colette, her son Peter and his charming wife, popular Dublin player Namir and I had a great time. We even managed to talk Colette into agreeing to come to the Emporium to play 1-2 PLO for a few hours some evening soon. WSOP final tableists Don O’Dea, Scott Grey and Andy Black will be joining us too. I don’t know where this is going but I can’t wait to find out. Feel free to join in!
PLO OVER HOLIDAY PERIOD
We are both aware of and excited by the fact that PLO is the future and are grateful for your support for WEDNESDAY PLO NIGHT. As we are in holiday season there won’t be our now normal PLO DOUBLE CHANCE 120 TOURNAMENT on Wed 27th Dec or Wed 3rd Jan.
Instead, we will have PLO cash or Round of Each cash. Up to you as always.
Exciting news coming !!!!!!
GENIUS AT WORK
It’s been a dreadful year for Irish music. First, we lost Aslan’s charismatic front man Christy Dignam, a proud son of Finglas.
The night Christy died, I left the poker game in the Sporting Emporium and walked towards Grafton Street. I thought the crowd in the street were shouting, but it seemed they were singing Crazy World! Praise indeed.
Christy’s death wasn’t a surprise as he’d been battling a serious illness, but the death of Sinead O’Connor came out of the blue. Sinead was a true Irish hero. Her fantastic voice brought her worldwide attention and she courageously used it to tell us what we didn’t want to hear. Thankfully, by the time we lost her, we’d come to accept that she’d been right all along. A proper role model.
Just when we thought there was no more they could do to us, they took Shane MacGowan, arguably the greatest treasure we had left. Lyricist, poet, singer, genius, he had it all. There is a poker angle to this story, albeit tenuous. I was playing poker in one of Larry’s gigs on Dublin’s Northside. I was supposed to be anyway, but I was at the bar. A guy I didn’t know sat beside me and decided to tell me a story. It was worth listening to. He told me he’d worked in a Private Members Club in London several years ago. The clientele was of the famous Irish persuasion. Shane was there. Funny that. He was locked. He either voluntarily or at the request of the house stepped outside. He took a few beermats with him. He stopped a girl in the street and asked if he could borrow a pen. She asked if an eyeliner would do. He took it and started to write on the beermats. A few minutes later, he was done. The result? A Rainy Night In Soho, my favourite song. Ar dheis Dhe go raibh a anam.
DUBLIN UNDER SIEGE
Last week, the far-right agitators and Dubliners who like burning garda cars, buses and trains, not to mention wrecking and looting businesses who were desperately hoping for a good Christmas after lockdown and quiet time in town, conspired to ruin everyone’s night. That’s not the beautiful, funny city I grew up in. I was playing a tournament in the Sporting Emporium as things escalated outside in the streets. The club decided, in the interests of safety of members and staff, to close immediately and get people home safe. So, we cancelled the tournament at 10.15 pm and gave everyone their buy-in back. We didn’t start the riot, but the management decided in a generous gesture to add 500 euro to the prize pool of 120 euro tourney on Thursday 7th December. Obviously, if it’s sold out, players who played in cancelled tourney get priority.
In true Dublin fashion, everyone accepted the club’s gesture. A guy who said he’d been chip leader approached me. He said it was first time he’d ever been chip leader. I told him he could tell everyone he’d taken the chip lead and never lost it! He laughed, clapped me on the back and kept going. Irish poker is still my favourite!
NEW YEAR FUN
For all needing fun but challenging tournament poker right after Christmas, the SPORTING EMPORIUM END OF MONTH 300 on 28th December may fit the bill as ever. Will for me anyway.
I’ve spent many New Years in Galway, for fun and poker with friends like Mike Sexton, Jesse May ,Kev OConnell, Mad Marty, Kenna James etc etc, in the glory years of Irish poker. Good to see Irish Poker Tour and online partner Paddy Power there again in very early January.
Happy holidays !
SUPER SATELLITE FOR END OF MONTH TOURNEY
Thanks for your continued good and friendly support.
I am aware quite a few of you consider €300 a little steep for their bankrolls and have asked for a super satellite to make participation in our signature END OF MONTH event more manageable.
It’s very much your club so Luke will be running a supersat at 8.15pm Tuesday 24th Oct in response to your requests. Should be good craic too!
See you Tuesday
Details on our Tournament Schedule page
GUARANTEE FOR MONDAY 10TH JULY NLH TOURNAMENT
We’ve had plenty of action the last few weeks. Thank you.
Last Monday was quiet, so we are going to guarantee a €1,000 prize pool for next Monday’s €100+20 NLH event.
This is to assure our players that it will definitely take place as usual and there is no chance of players taking wasted journeys.
See you Monday!
There Is Poker and Then There’s Irish Poker
These words were spoken by Mike Sexton as we hung out in the bar in the Radisson in Galway at the Irish Poker Championship in the 90’s. Mike would be delighted to hear me saying that he walked the walk, rather than just talked the talk. He joined us twice at the Irish Poker Championship, which he loved, and twice at the Irish Open which he helped grow. He was a huge fan of Irish poker and Irish poker players. He “got” their infectious love of the game and the craic, not to mention their love of the underdog and, of course, the bluff.
When I was talking with the SPORTING EMPORIUM people about becoming their poker ambassador, I got lots of advice from Mike. He loved the idea of a luxurious poker room in the upmarket centre of Dublin, where the idea was to recreate the fun atmosphere of Irish poker in the 80’s, where a stranger could walk in, be treated with respect by staff and players, enjoy the craic and leave happy that, win or lose, they’d had a good experience.
Mike could of course see the potential for a fun game involving regulars and visitors to our city. He was right as usual, and we talked of him coming to town to perform an official opening ceremony, even though we both knew that was unlikely as Mike’s battle with cancer wasn’t going well. Anyway, it was a nice thought. For the record, he would have loved The Sporting Emporium, for sure.
Daniel Negreanu was another superstar who bought into the Irish poker craic. We were both knocked out of the Open one Easter Saturday, so we watched The Masters and had far too much beer (In Ireland the technical term for such overindulgence is “having a skinful”). At some stage, we arranged that I would take Daniel to the Voodoo Club the following afternoon to meet Dublin’s grassroots players. Luckily, Daniel remembered. I didn’t.
The club was full to the roof with enthusiastic players and fans. It was pretty good craic. I’m not sure whether the players or Daniel enjoyed it most. It was close. After a couple of hours, we hit the pub across the street mobhanded. When Daniel and I left, Eamonn Connolly went back to the Voodoo, carrying a full pint Daniel had left behind. When challenged by the doorman, he said it was Negreanu’s pint and he was going to auction it for charity. He got in! Jesus!
Around about that time, I invited on behalf of Paddy Powers Irish American Dan Harrington to be a guest at the Irish Open. He wasn’t too hard to talk into it and enjoyed himself so much he came back four or five times more under his own steam! I had breakfast with him every morning after which we’d go for a long walk around Dublin, stopping off for coffee or to browse through a second-hand book shop. He was very smart but also very funny. I loved it. One year, I asked him if he’d like to join Jesse and me in the commentary box for twenty minutes. He stayed two days! Don’t tell me he doesn’t love Irish poker.
And then, there was the Late Great Doyle Brunson. He was part of the original raiding party Terry Rogers brought from Vegas to Dublin’s Killiney Castle Hotel in 82. Later, he came to the Irish Open as Paddypower’s guest in the 90’s. As I was a guest as well, I got to hang out with him and watch the great man charm journalists and fans like the pro he was. He kept me laughing for two days.
A few years later, I was very close to bringing the WSOP EUROPE to Dublin. Several poker superstars supported the Irish bid. The WSOP had proposed that Doyle host the event. I was delighted. At the eleventh hour, the proposed sponsor who had been involved from the start had a change of direction so, sadly, it didn’t happen. Would’ve been fantastic for Irish poker.
Couple of weeks ago, I attended the Irish Poker Tour event in Dundalk. I had spent 3 years pre lockdown crisscrossing the country, visiting Ireland’s grassroots players in their own environment and, tiring as it was, I loved it. Whether I was with Scott, Eamonn or Fitzy, it was great fun. A lot of people’s habits have changed since covid. People have rethought how they spend their disposable income and poker has to compete or die.
From what I saw in Dundalk, Fintan and sponsor paddypowerpoker have hit the spot. Players want fun tournaments at working man’s prices and that’s exactly what they got. You only had to walk into the room and hear the laughter to figure that out. I did an interview there, where I said that just because a player with responsibilities was “only” playing a €180 tournament, it didn’t mean he wasn’t a very good player. I think Andy Black said something similar, though I’m not sure as there wasn’t an interpreter around.
A couple of weeks later, Mary and I spent a few nights in Galway. There was the usual craic over dinner with the locals and then we headed to the Eglinton Club for a €10 rebuy PLO tournament. It came highly recommended by Ian Hamrock, who described it as “mental.” That was an understatement. Two tables in a ten euro rebuy event produced a €2,000 prizepool! It was unbelievable, especially as I was the only one drinking and I didn’t have a rebuy or add-on! Even by the Eglinton’s high standards, it was hilarious.
When I got back to Dublin, it was business as usual in The Sporting Emporium. A lot of the entertainment was provided by Irish American Joe, who visits Dublin a couple of times a year. When he went home, I emailed him wishing him a safe journey. I got a reply saying things nearly went very badly when, as his flight approached its destination, the pilot tried to squeeze between two thunderstorms and misjudged it.
Joe thought he might have played his last poker hand. He cheered himself up when he told himself that he’d at least played it with a nice bunch of guys. High praise indeed! Two days later, he was back in his local PLO game. He soon got into the groove and played a huge pot when he flopped top set and the nut flush draw against an opponent who had an open-ended straight draw. They ran it twice and Joe lost both times! He said he then realized that worse things can happen in this life than your plane crashing!
GUARANTEE FOR MONDAY 26TH JUNE NLH TOURNAMENT
We’ve had plenty of action the last few weeks. Thank you.
Last couple of Mondays have been quiet, probably due to lovely weather, so we are going to guarantee a €1,000 prize pool for next Monday’s €100+20 NLH event.
This is to assure our players that it will definitely take place as usual and there is no chance of players taking wasted journeys.
See you Monday!
RIP DOYLE BRUNSON
Sad to read that Doyle left us aged 89. He must surely be THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME following a career that saw him win the WSOP MAIN EVENT twice as well as 8 other WSOP bracelets and be part of poker going from the back rooms to our sitting rooms.
Until very recently he was still beating the biggest games no matter how many kids were in them. If anyone wants to challenge him for the GOAT title let’s see how they’re doing at 89!
Doyle also part of Irish poker history as he was one of the US players who accepted Terry Rogers invite to a week’s poker in Dublin’s Killiney Castle in the very early 80s. Over 20 years later he returned to honour us with his presence at the Irish Open in The City West where he charmed the fans – and gave them a pallet load of free books!
I think first time I played with him was on the first day of the WSOP Main Event 2003. We were on the TV table. Also there was 2002 champion Robert Varkoni who had very luckily knocked out our own Scott Gray in 4th place the previous year. Things were going along nicely until Doyle got a phone call that upset him. It turned out Doyle had got his dates wrong and his old basketball buddies were arriving in town for a reunion that night rather than the following week as Doyle thought.
We all heard Doyle’s end of the conversation and I, for one, expected he would try to gather a monster stack or go meet the boys. So when I raised with AK and Doyle moved all in for loads I had an easy call – Doyle had K9. He missed and we were both delighted. I never bragged about knocking him out because we all knew what was going on.
A few years later we were both guests of Paddy Power at the Irish Open. We were asked to talk to the press. Easy peasy. All I had to do was show up and listen to Doyle answering the questions. Nice gig! During a break we were chatting. Doyle showed me just how totally competitive he was. He wanted me to know that what happened in 2003 was because his basketball college buddies were arriving in town. I told him I already knew. Then he told me again. Now that is competitive!
A few years later some idiot thought it’d be funny to announce Doyle’s death online. Not once but twice. Few years later again some other idiot thought it’d be hilarious to announce I’d died at home in Paris. When Doyle saw what was happening on twitter he welcomed me into the RIP Club. I sincerely hope he’s not doing that again too soon.
NEW STARTING TIME FOR END OF MONTH TOURNAMENT
As part of our Spring/Summer schedule our EOM tourney will now start at 8.15pm from Thursday March 30th until September. Unless of course circumstances suggest we should revert back to the previous earlier starting time.
Thanks for your support.
NEW cash League commences Monday 27th March and finishes at close of business on Wednesday June 7th with final to be played Saturday June 10th at 8pm.Good luck all!
MONDAY TOURNEY / IRISH OPEN TICKET
Several of you requested that we organise an Irish Open Satellite as they wanted to qualify in their own club. Quite right too.
Our regs don’t like Sundays, Friday and Saturday are busy, Tuesday and Wednesday have EARLY NLH and PLO and Monday and Thursday are tournament nights. So we decided to tweak next Monday’s tournament to provide the winner with €1150, the buy in to the IO.
Everything else is business as usual. The prize will be paid in cash and the winner can play the IO or not. At the final table you guys can agree to alter the pay-out structure if you all agree of course. Your money. Your decision.
Luke will be there on the night to answer your questions and to get feedback on whether you guys want us to repeat this process. Good luck if you win and decide to play!
Monday 27th February – €100+20 NLH will have a guaranteed prize pool of €1,000. Last Monday numbers were a little down as many of our regs were playing a Senior’s event.
Nevertheless we’ve decided to guarantee next Monday’s event to assure our players there is no possibility of a wasted journey.
Thanks for your continued support.
See you Monday!
SQUARE PEGS. SQUARE HOLES
Cash leagues, in their traditional form, have always made me smile. What is the sense in players playing dozens of hours playing cash games to qualify for a final played as a tournament? It gives all-rounders a ridiculously unfair advantage.
That’s why Luke, after consulting the players, designed a structure where the final would be played as a closed rake free 2hour cash game. Players could cash out after two hours or continue playing in a game open to all. Sounded good to us.
In practise most players played way tighter than they usually would, as if they were determined to get something out of the league at all costs. The suggestion was made that if players had the option to take half the chips they had earned in qualification in cash and play the rest in the final, the game should be better and everyone happy.
Also, the idea of playing on Sundays doesn’t seem to suit our players. A lot of our players play Saturdays anyway so, as the final is only scheduled for two hours, we’ve decided to play the next final at 8pm on Saturday March 25th. Come join us!
CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE IN THE EMPORIUM
We wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas.
Thanks for your good-humoured support throughout what’s been an interesting year! The challenges covid brought and our policy of prioritising staff and player safety certainly slowed our mission to make the club not just the classiest poker venue in the country but also the most player friendly in the tradition that put Irish poker in a class of its own, but we are on track and will get there.
Players have been asking what the holiday schedule is. It’s actually business as usual.
€100+20 NLH 8:15pm. This tournament, in response to requests from members, now has a 20-minute clock.
EARLY NLH €1-2 (optional €5). 8:20pm kick off.
€1-2 PLO no live options. Game typically starts 8:15pm and runs for 5 hours. There is usually a €1-2 NLH game from about 10pm
€270+30 END OF MONTH. 7:15pm. Our flagship tournament will run as usual! We are delighted to host this iconic event on the last Thursday of every month.
Normally our busiest night with 2 or 3 holdem games. From second Friday in January there will also be a PLO €1-2 cash game.
Enjoy the holidays. See you at the tables. Your feedback is very welcome.
A LITTLE HELP IS BETTER THAN GREAT PITY
After a bout of Covid Light and boredom, it was good to get back to the poker and craic, which is par for the course in Dublin’s Sporting Emporium. A couple of days later, I got a call from a guy from Loughrea who said he was the son of a cousin of mine. I believed him, because if I threw a stone in Loughrea the likelihood is I’d hit a blood relative, or at least an in-law. He invited me to attend a charity poker event a few days later as a “special guest”.
I was wondering what special guest had pulled out leaving them stuck at the last minute but hey, an invite’s an invite. I forgot about that when he told me the event was a fundraiser to help send a couple of lads to Kenya as part of a group of young people embarking on a historic mission with the aim of, over time, planting a million trees to help present and future generations.
I loved the idea of our young people helping others in such a positive way whilst creating an awareness of the massive damage our generation have done to the planet through greed and stupidity. I think the whole thing comes under the umbrella of Warriors For Humanity, Self Help Africa, the GAA and people like that. It struck me as ironic that older generations typically criticise the young while it’s the young who are valiantly trying to clean up the mess we have left them. You couldn’t make it up! Anyway, Mary and I were happy to head for Loughrea though to be honest it was less about altruism and more about us knowing the craic would be good, especially when we heard Pat Lawless would be running the show which practically guaranteed a good laugh, if nothing else.
We weren’t disappointed! The venue was An Crush Nua, a pub a few miles outside Loughrea. I was told several times what the name meant, but I forgot. I do remember it’s owned by a cousin, marketed by cousins, staffed by cousins but despite that and it being in the arsehole of nowhere, it seems popular with young people and on the night of our visit was hopping. Shows what I know! As usual, we got a very warm welcome in Loughrea. I don’t know why, but we liked it anyway.
Someone asked me about sports stars playing poker. I told the story about a World Series of Poker in the noughties when I was an ambassador for 888. Their marketing department had pulled off a bit of a coup by hiring boxing superstar Lennox Lewis to play the main event wearing their logo. I was asked to teach him a few basics to ensure they got a decent bang for their buck publicity wise. Fair enough. I showed up on the morning of the event to give him a lesson. He was lovely. Polite. Charismatic. Generous when I asked him to sign a couple of tee shirts for charity. But when I told him I was there to give him a poker lesson, he politely told me he didn’t need a lesson, as he knew how to play already. Grand. I had a coffee with him and wished him luck. A few minutes later, I met one of the 888 bosses .He asked why I wasn’t giving Lennox a lesson. I told him Lennox thought he didn’t need one. He said that he certainly did. I said “If you want to fucking tell him that, I’m happy to teach him.” That was the end of that.
Over the years, I’ve introduced Poker Hall Of Famers Daniel Negreanu, Dan Harrington and Mike Sexton to the joys of Irish grassroots poker and they all absolutely loved it! They would have been right at home that night in An Crush Nua as a mixture of young lads and some older lads I had the craic with on previous visits combined to make it about as funny and good natured as it gets. They seemed to have inside information that the price of beer was going to go through the roof. They were certainly behaving as if that was the case.
Mary was having a ball at the bar, although the raffle was a huge disappointment. It was like doing 6 lines in the lottery without getting one number up. I hope it was fixed as I’d hate to think I was that unlucky! Then, one of my cousins knocked me out fair and square. I didn’t mind, that but next day at lunchtime his Mammy was able to tell me what happened. What happens in An Crush Nua doesn’t stay in An Crush Nua!
Thanks lads for a fun night and fair play to you guys for walking the walk rather than just talking the talk.
On returning to Dublin and The Sporting Emporium, I got bad news. Dublin poker was recovering from the shocking and premature loss of one of her favourite sons when Noel Murphy had what I think was a massive heart attack while driving. Over a few phone calls, his heartbroken poker playing buddy Martin told me just what a great guy he was. I’m sure all of us who met this absolute gentleman around the poker table would agree. May he rest in peace.
The next bad news was the sad sudden death of Billy Rogers. Billy was the son of Terry, the innovator who took tournament NLH from Binion’s to Europe. Those of us old enough to remember the young Billy when he was on the periphery of the Irish poker scene back in the day, will forever remember the smile and sense of fun that were his constant companions. His sad death is a reminder of just how lucky most of us are. Rest in Peace Billy.
I was delighted when Connie O’Sullivan, my comrade in arms from the hilarious partypoker Grand Prix Irish Tour, phoned to tell me that he’d be dropping into the Sporting Emporium to say hello. I hadn’t seen Connie since before lockdown and wondered how much hello was going to cost me. I didn’t really care as I was happy he’d survived what an ordinary mortal would consider a major health scare, but to Connie was just an inconvenience which interrupted his smoking for a couple of weeks. They don’t make them like that outside of Killarney anymore.
Connie was in town to promote the upcoming Macau Poker Classic which the Macau Club in Cork is putting on as the centrepiece of a festival, which also involves Fintan Gavin’s Irish Poker Tour and Paddy Power Poker. The main event runs from 1st to 4th December and has a guaranteed prizepool of €100K for a €1K entry fee. Connie started bullshitting about how many satellite qualifiers there was going to be, and value and that kind of thing, and I had agreed to go before I remembered your average Cork qualifier was like a piranha fish without the conscience. Oh well. The Cork lads are great craic anyway and Timmy O’Sullivan and the West Cork lads will probably be the icing on the cake. Anyway, it would be an opportunity to promote the Sporting Emporium and, in particular ,our iconic €300 End Of Month Tournament which, strangely enough, takes place on the last Thursday of every month and, stranger still, is mighty craic.
Connie joined the cash game and of course just had to tell the story of my first visit to his Cue Club in Killarney to promote the upcoming Partypoker Grand Prix Killarney. I travelled down from Dublin with a suitcase full of party freebies : hoodies, tee-shirts, that kind of thing. I met a guy on the train and we hit the beer so much I nearly missed my stop in Killarney and just about got off after grabbing my suitcase. Connie collected me and, after a few pints, we went to the club. Quite a crowd had gathered. Not to meet me of course but to view the goodies I’d brought.
I opened the case with a flourish only to find it full of lady’s underwear. I’d grabbed the wrong suitcase whilst exiting the train. The poker players seemed quite pleased and I got the impression some of them hadn’t seen lady’s underwear, especially of the fancy variety, recently. Or maybe ever. Then my phone rang. It was the station master from Tralee, the final stop of the train I’d taken. He was standing beside an irate passenger who wanted her underwear. As did half the Killarney poker players. I handed the phone to Connie and got myself a beer. Is he never going to let that one go?
EARLY MIDWEEK CASH GAMES
After listening to suggestions and preferences from our members it became obvious that a lot of you were interested in an early game with a strong probability that it is populated from the advertised starting time. Makes sense to me! So rather than putting a dealer with a deck and a tray of chips sitting at a table and waiting to see what happens we have been proactively canvassing our members and encouraging them to them to book seats in our Tuesday and Wednesday games. This has been a huge success thanks to your enthusiastic participation. Thank you.
TUESDAY NLH €1-2 optional €5 straddle under the gun.
8.15 pm start.
We started promoting this game this week 11/10. The response was great, and the game ran till after 3a.m.
The feedback has been very positive. Apparently, it was a good game and the craic mighty!
WEDNESDAY PLO €1-2 no live straddles.
This game has been running successfully for several weeks. Players like the early start and the no live straddles which generally leads to more play through the streets. It generally finishes around 1am as lots of our players work, but we hope more players will join us when they can be sure the game will run every week.
On several Wednesdays we have had a NLH game as well. We would expect that to be more likely as we approach the busy winter season.
As ever we look forward to hearing feedback/suggestions from you guys.
The easiest way to book seats is to join our players own WhatsApp group by texting your name and number to 0852169932
CASH LEAGUE FINAL RULES UPDATE
Some players have requested more information on the Cash League Final. Luke has added clarification to the rules on the SPORTING EMPORIUM website.
LEST WE FORGET
The covid lockdown didn’t do us any favours. I lost two good American friends for life who were legends of the game, poker ambassador Mike Sexton and John ‘Scof’ Sheffield of WSOP Binions fame. Had so much fun with these guys over a few decades. Vegas won’t be the same. That’s for sure. Next time around I’m only going to have friends that are way younger than me. On the plus side Mary and I and a few friends visited Vegas a few years ago to visit Scof and Fiona when we heard he was in bad shape. We were of course joined by Mike and had a memorable evening laughing at stories of Vegas from the best. We couldn’t attend Mike’s funeral but I had the honour of appearing on Matt Savage’s Mike tribute. Matt was fantastic especially as several contributors had had a glass or two and went on a bit. I know Mike would have had a good laugh at that! I was talking to Jesse May who, like me, was waiting patiently to do his bit. He was concerned that his turn would come when he was dropping his six year old son to school. I told him not to worry. That the way things were going his son would probably be in college before he got called upon!
Mike wasn’t the only huge star we lost in the last couple of years. I was shocked to hear my former 888 teammate, Australia’s favourite son, Shane Warne had died suddenly while on holiday in Thailand with a group of friends which included our mate Gareth Edwards, former 888 boss. Warney was in a class of his own. He may have been Australia’s heartbeat but his charisma and personality made him much loved everywhere the game of cricket was played. I had some hilarious times with him at the televised 888 UK Opens and, of course, at the WSOP. But Keith Hawkins nailed it better than I ever could when Warney was surrounded by cameras as he played the WSOP Main Event. Some Americans asked who the was. Keith said he was cricket’s Michael Jordan. He sure was. RIP mate.
Ireland didn’t come out of covid too well either. We lost one of Ireland’s most popular players ever when Leslie McLean left us. I knew Leslie from the Jackpot days in the 80s. Even then he looked like a kid in a sweetshop. He always had that wonderful smile on his face which helped to make him the successful salesman he was. He absolutely loved the thrill of playing the game he loved. They say he was a great loser but a bad winner, though I didn’t see him win often enough to have an opinion on that. He once made a complete idiot out of me in the early 90s. I won the Griffen’s flagship weekly tournament three weeks in a row. I said in the pub that it was unlikely to happen again as the line-up was always pretty tough. Three weeks later it happened again. It wasn’t done by any of the up and coming Irish lads who were to punch above their weight internationally over the next decade or so. Nope! It was Leslie .It was regarded as about as big a shock as a rocking horse winning back to back Grand Nationals. To be fair it was as popular as it was unlikely and an absolute joy to watch. At his streamed funeral Leslie’s grandson Stephen did him proud. In his eulogy he said his grandad was certain there was no afterlife. That this was it. So we’d better make the best of it. He sure did!
A few months ago I joined poker legend Colette Doherty, Scott Gray, Peter Mabasha and half the Ivory clan at a celebration of the life of plo player Neil Duggan who left us way too soon during covid. His partner, the lovely Sandy, and family were unable to give him the send-off they wanted to at the time but sixteen months after his death they put that right with a lovely afternoon of food, drink, music and laughter and stories of the wisdom, kindness and humour of the man they missed so much told with great pride. I didn’t know Neil as well as the other poker people did as I was in Paris for decades but I did spend several nights a week sitting beside him in the Fitz game for its last couple of years in business. Neil always spoke very softly so seated beside him I heard some of what he had to say whilst most of the table didn’t and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing!
We also got to witness another grandchild deliver a great eulogy when Natalia Furlong stepped up to pay tribute to her much loved grandad Noel in a streamed funeral service. To say Noel was my nemesis is a bit of an understatement. He rivered me for the Irish Open in the early nineties. I had just about gotten over that when in 1999 he knocked me out in third place at the WSOP main event. Some didn’t give Noel credit for his achievement but they maybe weren’t aware that he had previously been at the final of the main event and had won two Irish Opens. He certainly had his own way of doing things and what’s wrong with that? Noel didn’t play a lot of poker. He was a highly successful businessman and also liked a punt or two on the horses, the most famous of which was when his own horse Destriero won the 1991 Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. I got to hear that story and a hundred others about his life when we visited Foxwoods for a WPT event for a week. Heads up he was hugely entertaining and certainly didn’t have to make up stories!
Noel frequently had tournament last longer bets with another veteran of the Eccentric’s Club, Frank Cruess Callaghan. Frank was favourite in that one though Noel was more likely to actually win the tournament. In the game of life Frank lived a little longer than Noel but he also left us quite recently. Frank was a success in business, a lucky racehorse owner and loved his poker. He was also fond of the odd pint, especially in Hartigans. Frank played a huge part in the history of Irish poker. In the mid-nineties The Irish Open, which was where it all started in Europe, died. Frank was disgusted that, when poker was becoming hugely popular elsewhere, we didn’t have our own signature event. Frank thought this ridiculous and invited Don O’Dea, George McKeever to join him for dinner in Paris to discuss the problem. It wasn’t hard to get the lads behind a plan to revive the event and we quickly got lads like Scott Gray, Frank McGuigan and a host of players onside. The rest is history. Thank you Frank. When Frank retired he and the lovely Evelyn bought an apartment in Paris not far from where Veronique and I were living. Frank employed Vero as a part time French teacher which was odd as he was already taking classes. We then discovered he really wanted to make sure his homework was done well enough to impress his teacher and classmates. Typical! The last time I saw Frank was in The Fitz a few months before it closed for their iconic Last Thursday Of The Month event (a tournament which is now played in The Sporting Emporium and great craic). I remarked to Colette that he didn’t look well enough to play for eight or nine hours, let alone win. He did and he did. I should keep my mouth shut more often. RIP Frank.
More recently again we lost Harold Huberman. Harold played on the club scene in Irish poker for decades and epitomised all that is special about Irish Poker. He truly loved the game and the characters who play it. But most of all he loved the craic. He was a master of quick wit, irony and sarcasm and whether it was The Fitz, The Merrion or the Sporting Emporium he was playing in he made the world a happier place. In the nineties I christened him Harold the fifth because that was his most likely finishing position. Too tight to win and too tight to lose. He liked it! But I’m sorry. Harold the first is probably more appropriate.
NEW MONDAY STRUCTURE
We have a policy of giving players what they want, not what we think they want. Some players have told us they’d prefer 20 min clock on Mondays so that’s what they’ll get for a few weeks from Monday 29th. After that we will let the players decide which structure they prefer.
SATELLITE FOR KILLARNEY €2,500 PLO event.
Donal has asked us to run a satellite for the €75k guaranteed €2,500 buy in PLO to be played in Killarney on Friday Sept 30th, and we have agreed. The satellite will take place on Wednesday Sept 7th with the buy in €320+€30 at 8.15pm. The Irish Poker Tour are guaranteeing one ticket for Killarney. There will be a €40+10 sat on Tuesday 6th to qualify players for main satellite the following day. Structures etc will be posted shortly. GL to all!!
OMAHA REVISITED. FREE POKER
Now that we have our weekly tournaments and NLH cash games running successfully it’s time we got on with building a pot limit omaha cash game in The Sporting Emporium. After talking to a bunch of players we are going to concentrate on building a player friendly and bankroll friendly 1-2 game which will give players a chance to learn and enjoy the game without needing to get a second mortgage.
More good news. Partypoker are to sponsor the next Poker The Homeless event which will be played in the club. I applaud them for that as, though party and I parted company amicably with several names a few years ago. I still have several good friends there like Colette Stewart and Emma who were more than colleagues. Ask Mike Sexton! Mike absolutely loved the Padraig’s room bit. Sadly that’s not going to happen now though I know in my heart he will be there. Kills me he won’t be there to launch grass roots PLO game.
JESSE MAY VISITS THE SPORTING EMPORIUM
About a decade ago, Scott Gray and I set out on a two week tour to play poker with the Irish grassroots players who are the heartbeat of the game here. It’s always tremendous craic. Tim O’Sullivan invited us to visit the pub game in Clonakilty, in West Cork. He got more than he bargained for when we showed up with a TV crew and The Voice of Poker, Jesse May. We think we broke a record because Jesse paid over €200 for his flight from Denmark to play a €30 event! He drank about half his bodyweight and nearly won the thing. The punters loved him. In an interview over breakfast the next day, he shook his head and said he’d never woken up in Ireland before with more money in his pocket than he’d started the previous day with!
When I got involved as poker ambassador for The Sporting Emporium, it was inevitable that he’d pay us a visit. He did, and was kind enough to write about Irish poker and his trip, as only he can. It goes like this:
I had enormous craic playing poker the other night at @SportEmporium. I was reminded of the very first time I ever played poker in Ireland. Which was the same night I first met the man who’s taught me more about poker than anyone else. That was the night I met Padraig Parkinson. It was the fall of 2000 and I was broke. Specifically, I was the kind of broke where you are not only broke but also have no prospects, so you pretty much are up for anything no matter what. Which is why when Liam Flood called to offer me a free buy-in to the main event at the Autumn Festival at the Merrion Club in Dublin and all I had to do was write an article for a poker magazine, I was on my way.
The Merrion Club was an old Dublin townhouse that had a sign out front telling about the famous poet who had lived there in the 17th century, quite narrow and quite high with big twisting staircases and high ceilings and lots of wood.
The tournament started and I was sitting there for a while terrified out of my skull. I was terrified because Noel Furlong was sitting on my left. He had just won the World Series the year before and I’d been told that he might be the most fearless poker player that’s ever been.
There’s a certain kind of tournament poker player that when something goes wrong, they always have the two jacks and I don’t want to go into why, but it’s a fact and unfortunately it says a lot more about the poker player than it does about the jacks.
At that time, I was exactly that kind of poker player and so of course, the first hand I played in Ireland, I had the jacks.
I got dealt the two jacks and raised it up under the gun and Noel Furlong 3-bet me. European champion Alan Betson was on Noel’s left and he immediately came over the top of Noel. And on Alan Betson’s left was Aidan Bennet, who I had never seen nor heard of before.
I’m not sure if I actually cried or I just wanted to. I didn’t even think twice about mucking the jacks, but Noel Furlong called like a shot. And Aidan Bennet had the situation read as perfectly as could be because his A-8 suited was miles ahead of Furlong’s Ace-six.
And that was my first ever hand of Irish poker.
Mercifully, the dinner break came soon afterwards. Kevin O’Connell, who I had become friendly with the year before during the filming of the first season of Late Night Poker, took one look at me and literally grabbed me by collar and said: “Come with me.” Which I did.
Because honestly who wanted to eat turkey and ham in the basement when the pub was across the street and on the corner? Kevin O’Connell wasted no time. Within minutes, I’d had my first pint of Guinness and my first shot of Paddy’s.
Pretty much the entire field spent the dinner break in the pub and by the time we went back into the Merrion Club, while I still had no shot at winning the tournament, a few things had improved. I was no longer terrified of the table, and I loved Irish Poker.
That camaraderie had me for good. No matter who you were and where you’d been. If you loved the game and treated it with respect, Irish Poker welcomed you with open arms.
It was only a few hours later that I was knocked out and on the rail. I was standing in a room on the ground floor of the Merrion Club when in walked Padraig Parkinson. My first memory of Padraig is him walking up to me and he had six arms and each of them was carrying a pint.
He was talking a mile a minute like we’d known each other all of our lives, and to be honest maybe we had. Padraig led me out into the Dublin night, which was a sea of Guinness, pubs, and talk about poker. And that began a friendship which has lasted a lifetime.
There’s a lot of things I admire about Padraig, but his love for the game stands even apart. And though I hadn’t seen him since before the pandemic, walking into his poker club in Dublin last week felt like coming home.
There’s a nice buzz, there’s a regular game, and as long as you treat everyone with respect you will be eternally welcome. If you thought live poker was dead, think again. @padraigpoker is hosting Irish Poker nightly in Dublin at @SportEmporium.
To be honest, I have never met anyone who can write or lie like Jesse May😂
THE VOICE OF POKER TO VISIT THE SPORTING EMPORIUM
In the year 2,000 Scott Gray and I were in the Isle of Man for the very first Pokermillion event. There we were introduced to a writer called Jesse May and haven’t managed to shake him off ever since. We even tried buying his book but that didn’t work. (The book is called SHUT UP AND DEAL and is a masterpiece.)
Jesse and The Devilfish were the two guys who did most to drag poker from the back rooms to our living rooms. They were the brightest stars of the iconic Late Night Poker series. The Fish was made for TV and along with Jesse’s infectious enthusiasm and instinctive sense of timing captivated the imagination of a generation of viewers who previously knew nothing about poker. Jesse was an overnight success and a must if you wanted to make poker TV.
As Jesse’s sidekick I got to take part in a couple of hundred TV and radio shows and to witness first-hand how it all worked. Jesse and our buddy Rob Gardner were pioneers of poker on TV and were generally about twelve months ahead of the competition. The Poker Show which was filmed in Vegas during the 2006 WSOP introduced a new audience to poker’s brightest stars and the craic that is unique to the world of poker.
Scott and I were in a Dublin pub a few nights ago and one of the bartenders was asking me about Jesse. I told him he’d be in town on Thursday so he could ask him himself! So can you.
Jesse will be playing (loose use of the word) poker in The Sporting Emporium from 8pm on Thursday so feel free to drop in and meet the VOICE OF POKER.
RETURN OF THE CASH LEAGUE
It is club policy to listen closely to what our players tell us they would like and, where possible, to give them what they want. It’s their club. Lots of you have requested that we run a cash league so that’s what we intend to do, starting from May 5th, the day the “Voice Of Poker” Jesse May is due to spend an evening in the club.
Over eight weeks €1 will be taken from each pot of €30 or more and added to the cash league prize pool .We will be tracking the number of hours every player plays and at the end of eight weeks play every player who has played a minimum of 40 hours will have qualified for the final in which he or she will be given a chip stack proportionate to the number of hours played. The final six players in the final will be paid prizes based on the size of their chip stacks at that point.
The club is aiming to make our flagship event, The End of Month, as big, as relevant and as much craic as possible. This will involve inviting as many of our friends from all around the country to join us and I hope they do. To make this a more attractive proposition for them we will not be taking money from pots for the cash league on those nights as they should not have to contribute to a prize pool they won’t be competing for.
If anyone has any suggestions etc. please speak up. As I said, it’s your club!
ICONIC END OF MONTH TOURNAMENT RETURNS AND POKER FOR THE IRISH RED CROSS UKRAINE APPEAL IS BORN.
When the Fitzwilliam Club, poker’s headquarters in Ireland, closed their doors for the last time a few months before Covid, it left a gap. Over the years they had built their famous End of Month event to the point that it attracted players, live and online, from all over the country for a monthly meet up to exchange info and maybe swig down a pint or two in McGrattans.
When I got involved with the Sporting Emporium the suggestion I got most from players was that it would be the perfect venue to host a continuation of this proud chapter of Irish poker history. I loved it, so as soon as we could we held our first End Of Month event on the last Thursday in February. The players got right behind it so roll on the last Thursday in March! Details of satellites will be up on the site soon.
Like everyone else I’ve watched the horrific events in Ukraine with a feeling of disbelief. When women and children become targets there is something very wrong. It has been shocking stuff but sometimes the good guys step forward and give us new hope. Sometimes it’s great to be Irish. We sure love the underdog and love to share what we said we didn’t have! I got several calls asking if the Sporting Emporium could help. Of course they could!
They will be putting on an event to raise funds for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal on 22nd March at 8.15pm. Buyin €100. So, if you’d like to help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in their time of need and have a fun night’s poker please join us. Info is available on the website or you can call me on 085 2169932. Thank you
BREAKING TOURNAMENT NEWS – BACK TO THE FUTURE
If you want to move forward successfully it is a good idea to learn from the mistakes and successes of the past.
When the Sporting Emporium and I joined forces with the intention of creating a poker room in the centre of Dublin where first time visitors would feel very welcome and the craic that has made Irish poker unique and envied would make the experience special.
We decided to break with tradition and ask the players what they wanted. As we were in lockdown I had plenty of time to listen! One of the things they almost all said was they missed the Fitz End of Month event.
It had been more than a tournament. It was a monthly meeting of players, live and online, from all over the country. They mostly showed up for the craic. I was living in Paris for twenty years and several times left behind a better game than I was going to find here to fly over for the night because I knew it would be fun. I’ve never been called smart!
I was delighted to hear that a decent end of month event was what the players were asking for as I love the idea myself. So from the 24th of February the tournament on the final Thursday of each month will be €270+30 NLH .
A Terrible Beauty Is Born
Some time in the late eighties The Irish Open was moved from it’s spiritual home, The Eccentric’s Club, to the more spacious and posh Griffen Club in Dublin’s Merrion Square. It remained there for a couple of years until it’s founder, Terry Rogers and club owner Teddy Hickson fell out over something stupid but that was Terry for you!
By that time the event attracted quite a few English players .Londoner Micky Moran was a regular when he wasn’t doing time for forgetfulness. He used to import gold and forget about the VAT but that’s another story. On one occasion he was accompanied by Mick ‘The Clock’ Cooke and the hilarious Alan Vinson. The London lads and the Irish guys were to become good pals over the years but they stitched us up nicely this time. They joined our dealers choice game and when they got to choose what game we played they chose Pot Limit Omaha. This was a new one on most of us though they assured us it was ‘just like hold’em. Yeah right! Being Irish and liking a gamble we loved it. The English guys told us we were doing very well. Bastards! They went home with the money but we had fallen in love with this action game. It transformed Irish poker and made it even more fun. That’s all we needed!
It was always our intention when The Sporting Emporium reopened to establish PLO as one of the games on offer as you had told us that’s what you guys wanted. We are going to start the ball rolling with a 1-2 optional 5 game on Friday 17th December and take it from there.
The game will run from around 6.30. Text 0852169932 if you wish to join the list!
Should be fun!
A Glimpse Of The Future
When the project to put The Sporting Emporium on the map as The centre of poker in Dublin and a ‘must visit’ spot for visitors from home and abroad it would be safe to say that we didn’t allow for a pandemic. Roy Keane wouldn’t be impressed! Nevertheless the plan is still there and the dream lives on.
It was always part of the plan to give the members and prospective members a very real say on the way forward. This was never a manifesto promise . It’s for real. I’m delighted that your suggestions have almost all been added to our plan and some added to. Despite the restrictions of time and staffing issues we made a start on the first item on the wish list on Monday of last week.
A weekly €120 tournament .The event started at 6.15 and ended in a three way deal at 11.40. Perfect. To be fair to you guys you voted with your feet and the great turnout makes moving on with the plan a lot easier. It was a truly special night with an excited buzz in the air that Irish poker seems to specialise in. The staff bought into it too. Some were caught smiling but thankfully weren’t reported! I missed it all as I was sick.
I would like to thank those who took time out from playing to phone me and tell me how much craic it was and helpfully suggesting I should be sick every Monday. A tad harsh I thought. The feedback and social media comment on the event was superb and I was happy to see the staff get the plaudits their efforts in tough times so thoroughly deserve. Thanks to all who took the time to contact us for your kind words.
Monday this week again produced a good turnout and was good fun. Our government announced increased restrictions to which the club has responded as expected. The club policy has always been to put the safety of staff and players first. I am totally in tune with that. We already close at midnight but until restrictions are eased, hopefully in January, poker will be played on extra large tables. These tables were made over a year and a few false dawns ago. At least they’ll come in handy now! Thankfully there are four of them so we can continue with Mondays event, albeit with numbers reduced to 32 plus alternates.
See you Monday,
Stay safe, Padraig
A Month’s A Long Time In Poker
The 22nd of October was a day for optimism in the Irish poker world. The iconic IPO marked the return of poker festivals and, much more importantly, The Sporting Emporium and the other casinos and clubs got to open their doors to the public again after 19 months in lockdown. I had been in discussions with the Sporting Emporium people over 20 months about how best to make the fantastically located upmarket casino Ireland’s number one poker venue, attractive to Dubliners ,players from all around Ireland and visitors from all around the world. We were both on the same page in that we thought that going back to the basic fun and craic that made Irish poker unique and encouraging members to tell us what they want rather than telling them what they want.
So we were delighted to get two tables in action on the first night back ,despite the IPO being in full swing. We were joined by England’s John Kalmar and his lovely wife Kyla. Skally, as he is better known, is a former WSOP final tableist but that didn’t help him here! The following night we were joined by my friend Rob Yong, entrepreneur, cofounder of Luxon and owner of DTD, Simon and Nicola who make DTD work, Paul Jackson, famous for THAT hand against Phil Ivey and a good friend of mine and Irish poker, winner of first poker million, John Duthie. Rob and his entourage had flown by private jet from the UK. I asked Rob’s Kevin O’Connell why the private jet? He said it was quicker than a helicopter! I give up! Rob was kind enough to record a vlog which gave us great publicity overseas. Hopefully we will see the spin off from that when things improve.
For the last few weeks poker has been well supported especially as we have been held back from introducing the tournaments and plo games you guys have been asking us to put on due to staffing issues that seem commonplace these days.
Then the government decided they wanted town locked down from midnight each night. Its another blow to those who’ve just got back to work especially when the club meticulously protects the safety of staff and customers alike. It is a blow for sure but it does provide the opportunity to do things with the poker schedule to benefit customers and staff alike.
We will be opening at 6pm every day now and, shortly, a little earlier on Saturdays.
We will, starting on Monday 29th November, be holding the €120 NLH tournament you guys have been asking for. It will start at 6:30pm. It would help if we knew what numbers to expect so it would be helpful if you texted me on 0852169932 to book your place asap.
We will be offering plo, initially on Wednesdays and Fridays, starting on Wednesday November 24th at 6.30pm. Blinds will be 1-2 optional 5 but hopefully 2-5-10 is not too far away. Again please feel free to text me to book a seat. It will fill up for sure.
We also intend to soon start opening a little earlier on Saturdays and, again as suggested by you guys, holding a tournament with a buy in of about €150 .More on that soon. I hope you guys will enjoy the changes in our schedule.
Good news. Partypoker have agreed to sponsor our Poker For The Homeless charity event which we will hold in the club in next few months. As in the last few times we ran it, Brother Kevin will receive two thirds of the money raised with the other third going to Pieta House, the suicide people. Both these charities are popular with the poker community. We hope rugby legend Reggie Corrigan and snooker legend Ken Doherty, huge supporters of our efforts over the years can make it. We were talking about this in the club the other night. I was telling the guys about one morning years ago when I was having breakfast with Ken. He was telling me he and The Mammy had been among the VIPS to meet The Queen the previous evening. I rang Reggie and asked why he hadn’t been invited. He said it was because when he played against the English we won! Ouch.