It’s an honour to represent your country and one of my regrets is that more than once in the past, I have done so with a hangover that would kill two small villages. I decided a few years ago that that wouldn’t happen again and if Ireland ever appoints a decent captain that can be guaranteed by not picking me. But as a nation we’re not that clever yet. Thank you God.
The hospitality extended by the IFP was unbelievable which makes the way they were subsequently treated by some of the players even more embarrassing than it was – if that’s possible. The Park Plaza hotel was great and I nearly cracked up a few days into the weekend when the charming lady who was sorting out all the rooms asked if it met with my approval. She’d obviously never seen a picture of the El Cortez, struggled through the glue they called a carpet in the Plaza, or dared to look under the bed in Binions. The night before the duplicate event, the craic in the bar was great. Amazingly, the poker players were pretty sober (let’s just assume Andy Black isn’t a poker player) whilst a bunch of suits who were attending some function or other were absolutely slaughtered and behaving in a manner that would have made a lap dancer blush. Changed times! Barny Boatman forgot he was the captain of the English team and joined the Irish contingent. I was surprised to see Barny’s team drinking beer as most of them didn’t look old enough to be served a milkshake. When asked why he’d picked such a young team Barny explained that the London Eye (in which day 1 of the tournament was to be played, believe it or not) was rather expensive and that none of the English kids had been up in it, so the selection was a nobrainer. We felt a little envious as not so much thought had been put into selecting the Irish team.
The next day I had to put on a suit and attend the IFP congress with Derek Kelly. I was under instructions to shake hands with the Chinese, bow to the Japanese and tell the English to fxxx off but unfortunately, I got a bit confused. I hope nobody’s too upset. The whole thing was hilarious. The highlight was when Brazilian geezer started off by apologising for his poor English and waffled for about 40 minutes that seemed like a month and a half. Halfway through I mentioned to Derek that I was considering standing up at some stage, announcing that English wasn’t my first language either before asking that if it was proved that poker was a game of skill could we still tell bad beat stories. He didn’t think that would be a great idea. He was probably right.
Then came the London Eye bit where 11 countries that I’ve heard of and a country called Zynga set about playing duplicate poker to demonstrate that poker is a game of skill. They may not have accomplished that on the night but they proved irrefutably that turning on the heat in a pod on the Eye and finding your seat in a tournament are both highly skillful manoeuvres, the difficulty of which is underestimated. For example the real nice guy from Zynga seated on my right swore his name was Geoff though he was listed as Jennifer. We called him Jennifer for 4 days anyway. There was great excitement later on when the qualifiers for the following days final were announced, especially from the Spanish team. They went out on the town to celebrate. A while later it was announced that the scores were a little inaccurate so we’d have to do it all again in the morning. The Irish were particularly amused at the thought of the surprise in store for the Spanish when they poured themselves back to the hotel. Personally I think that that was particularly childish though in the interests of team spirit I refrained from saying so at the time.
The next morning’s captains meeting was a great laugh if you like that kind of thing. As we were to replay the first round in the County Hall rather than in the Eye, I helpfully suggested they turn off the heating and open the windows to recreate the ambience of the evening before. My suggestion was ignored and I decided that if that was their attitude, I would stop helping them out. I bet they were sorry about that.
Then everything went assways. So far it’d been fun and everyone seemed to accept that such a marvellously ambitious project might be subject to the odd hiccup. So what? It was history in the making. Then the inexplicable and unforgivable happened. When play recommenced, all six players at one table agreed to flip blind for 100 BBs (the max) in the first hand. The play money guy from that place Zynga won which was kinda fair because he was the guy that was getting huge +ev. The others were showing total contempt for their team-mates, those who’d have been proud to play for their country, the organisers and sponsors who’d treated us like kings and the game of poker. In my opinion all six teams involved (including Ireland) should have been thrown out of the tournament and sent to bed with no supper. I was talking to Mr Greenstein about it the next day. He said “At least you only had to travel from Ireland for that nonsense”. I gather he wasn’t pleased!