Hanging out with Surinder Sunar is usually good value. He’s the most superstitious gambler I’ve ever met. We were in Dublin airport recently on our way to play the European Open TV event when he spotted me purchasing nail clippers. This got him very excited as we’d swapped a piece and he explained to me that playing poker with long nails was desperately unlucky. Especially the feet.

We thought we were going to be staying in the Marriott hotel in Waltham Abbey. When we got there we found we were actually staying on a building site that had Marriott written outside. It would be a marvelous place for snow men to spend a well earned weekend away as they could hang out in the restaurant cum bar for as long as they liked without ever being in danger of melting. Kevin O’Connell was in the bar, working on some kind of a theory that involved a battle between Scotch whiskey and hypothermia. The whiskey seemed to be shading it. Kev is getting married to the lovely Leona later this month, as long as he gets his paper work sorted, which is no gimme. Skally, Jesse, Julian and I are turning up one way or the other. As the original best man can’t make it, Kev has decided that the rest of us have to play a game of spoof to decide who gets the job. He hasn’t told us yet if the winner or the biggest loser is going to be the victim.

Kevin was first out of his heat the next day. I suppose I shouldn’t have laughed (Surinder would definitely have thought that would be unlucky) because I didn’t get as far as the tenth hand in mine. I got a bit carried away with a pair and an open-ended straight flush draw, when I thought my pair was good anyway. I missed everything and didn’t know until the next day who won because I hurried back to the building site to have another look at my toe nails.

Things went from bad to worse and, almost unbelievably, three of the Irish stars of the Pokermillion, Eoghan O’Dea, Liam Flood and Ciaran O’Leary went out first in the next three heats. Stranger still, Fintan Gavin, Ireland’s other representative, didn’t. I heard a few theories that people had come up with to explain the Irish collapse. They all came from English people who just didn’t understand. How do you expect a Paddy to be able to concentrate when all he can think about is how he’s spending 18 hours a day on a building site in England without getting paid.