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Padraig Parkinson

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Padraig Parkinson

Me, Phil and History

“Nobody will ever know how well I played”. Sometimes Phil Hellmuth can surpass even himself in the nonsense department, and this statement that he made to Barny Boatman after a recent relatively early elimination is right up there with the best of them. Barny thought so, anyway. I’m still glad he said it because, like a lot of the stuff he does say, it brought a smile to my face. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the great characters of the game and it just wouldn’t be the same without him. You only have to watch the camera seeking antics of some of the wannabe Phils to realise that he’s a one-off. Maybe it’s because he really cares.

“It’s all about making history” Sometimes that Hellmuth guy speaks a lot of sense when you’re not really expecting it. This is our Olympics and our chance to write our own little piece of history. Phil was on to this from way back. He may also have suspected that the money would follow the history, but I think he would have gone for making history anyway. Sometimes there’s no choice. Playing poker is what we do. Most of us are crap at everything else anyway. Some of us are even crap at poker, but at least we’re playing the game, and maybe that’s what matters.

Inspired by Mr H. I made my own piece of history at this year’s WSOP. I cashed for the third time in seven events when I managed to secure 40th place in the 2000 pot-limit Holdem event by very cunningly re-raising with AJ when my opponent only held a miserable looking AQ . Very unusually, I failed to suck out on him and received $ 3221 for my efforts. History at last. Three cashes out of seven, and I was still behind. Quite impressive in itself but I’m sure it’s been done before. What made my achievement historic was that I was also an overall loser in the three events I cashed in (I’d shared 27th in the 10 000 pot-limit Omaha and received 6200 as a result). I got phone calls and emails from lots of my friends, containing all the usual words of encouragement. I hadn’t the heart to tell them I would have been better off not playing at all, and at this steady rate of progress I’d be skint by Christmas. Anyway, I’d made history.

Three events later, two exits before the first break and a heads-up loss in the first round of the shoot-out to Layne Flack (who turned up an hour and a half late), I headed downtown for a little bit of inspiration. I didn’t find it there but the taxi driver opened my eyes for me. He told me a story that I hope is true. He said a colleague of his had found a briefcase in the back of his cab. On opening it he discovered it contained eighty thousand dollars in cash. My cab driver was of the opinion that there were only two moves here : keep the lot or hand in the lot. He asked if I agreed. To be polite, I said I did. Apparently, his colleague found a third option. He handed in half of it. The cab driver was gleefully describing his buddy’s interrogation as we arrived at our destination when an overenthusiastic hotel casino employee practically manhandled me out of the cab to let an important customer in. Obviously, I never did find out what happened but he did get me to thinking that maybe there were some options at the poker table in these big fields that I was maybe dismissing a little bit too quickly.

I’m not sure if this realisation almost led me to making more history in my next event, the $ 1500 no-limit Holdem, but something did. I held the chip lead for an hour or two, but managed to get myself back into familiar territory with great ease. I was on the verge of finishing about 120th and a historic fourth cash finish without being in overall profit in the four events when destiny lent a hand and things started looking up. Then history really started. I found myself at the final table of ten with 69 year old Boston Billy and 82 year old Mr McKinney. Mr McKinney, the oldest man to ever win a bracelet when he won the Seniors last year, is one of the great gentlemen of the game and it was an honour to play with him. Boston Billy, a long time highly respected pro, was putting in one of the great performances of this year’s WSOP. He’d also made the final table of the $ 2000 event the day before this event started and could easily have won both without even a rest day. A remarkable achievement by a remarkable man who in his wonderful humorous fashion described himself to me a couple of years ago as being “in the twilight of a mediocre career”! With four players left and Mr McKinney and Mr Billy departed, we were level in chips, I was offered a four way chop. I think we would have got about $ 300 000 each and played for the bracelet. Money is money, but history is history. I figured it would be a lot easier to win the bracelet if we were still playing for the money. I finished up with neither but nobody said history came cheap.

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