Just before I came to Cannes, I heard that legendary Belfast gambler Jimmy Flood had been found dead. Guys who knew Jimmy better and longer than I did swear that with his brainpower, wit and salesman’s patter he could have made a living doing anything he wanted but what Jimmy wanted was to live on his wits. He was a kind of a Robin Hood character. He liked that. Especially the taking from the rich bit. Damon Runyon would have loved him.
I got to know Jimmy when he spent some time hanging around Dublin’s gambling clubs. Whether he was telling stories of his rather colourful life at the snackbar, playing backgammon or kalooki with some poor bastard or having the craic with the lads in the poker game, he was pure box office. When Jimmy was in full flight, nobody went home. There was no point. You wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway what with wondering what you might be missing. He was just the funniest guy in town.
On one famous occasion, Jimmy turned up in the club with a gentleman who went by the name of Manchester George, who was known far and wide as a bit of a lad. They left after a little while to go for a drink. A few hours later, Jimmy arrived back minus Manchester George. George had come back with him but had been told by security that his membership application had been accepted in error and that if it was ok with him they’d rather he didn’t reapply. I thought this a tad harsh. All the man had done was have two cups of tea. George was running really bad. He’d left his expensive glasses on the counter in the night club and they were nicked within five minutes. Jimmy managed to keep a straight face as he shook his head and said “You’d be amazed how many dishonest people there are around the place these days.”
When I first saw the schedule for WSOP EUROPE, I thought someone had made a gigantic cockup. The buyins are too big for the average travelling pro and sadly this has been reflected in the turnout. It’s a pity really as the venue is great and the events have been run superbly. Then, I attended the first bracelet ceremony and was delighted to learn the event had been won by a kitchen worker. Then I realised it was all part of a master plan. I was wrong again!
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