I recently played at the final day feature table in The Bonnington with Chris Moneymaker in the event which is named after him. We got to having a laugh at the memories of his first poker visit to Ireland for an EPT, which was played at the same venue although the name has since been changed. But that’s another story.
It all began with a phone call from the visionary who created the EPT, John Duthie, now president of partypoker LIVE. Or something like that. He told me he was going to travel to Dublin to a meeting with the Bonnington hotel people with a view to staging that year’s Dublin EPT there. When I stopped laughing, I advised him to save himself a trip.
No disrespect to the venue, which has been the home of the IPO during its truly great years. It’s perfectly fine for fun events that are about the craic as much as anything else. But for spoilt travelling poker players expecting luxury? No way. There was a sign outside advertising rooms at €40 per night. That was a bit of a clue. Then, he told me Liam Flood had proposed using the hotel. The Irish lads got a good laugh out of that. Me not so much as I liked John and his project and Irish poker. Anyway, the deal got done. Game on!
The day before the start of the main event, everything was going great. Then the players arrived and it took a turn for the worse. For lots of them, it was catastrophic. The biggest mess ever. The internet didn’t work. And wasn’t going to. They were like zombies. And that was before they tried to order room service!
It got worse. Kevin O’Connell was not a happy camper when he found the bar didn’t stock his favourite brand of Johnny Walker, but calm was restored when he bought a bottle himself and presented it to the bar. He then bought it from them a double at a time! You couldn’t make it up.
The next day, Day 1, three WSOP main event winners showed up to play. As did Swedish football star Thomas Brolin. And Westlife star Brian McFadden. Great stuff. Only problem was there wasn’t water in any of the hotel rooms. You’d be surprised how many players hadn’t noticed. I will name them later. It caused quite a stir! Guys who’d never experienced the old side of Binions, had a $20 room in the El Cortez or fought their way through the treacle like carpet in The Plaza now were dealing with a whole new ball game. And they’d just recovered from the shock of there not being a chocolate on their pillow. Or even a complimentary bottle or two of Fuji water. It was great!
Did I mention that I was staying with a friend five minutes down the road? To be fair most of the players saw the funny side of it! Until 24 hours later there was still no water. Then there was plenty. The previous morning, lots of people put the plug in their sink and turned on the tap. Nothing happened. You’d be quite surprised at how many people didn’t turn the tap off which resulted in sinks overflowing and lots of people becoming aware the drought was over the next day when the water came through their ceilings from above. OMG. Someone asked me who was responsible and I said it was Liam Flood. They asked if that was his real name. I didn’t get it so they asked again if that was his real name. Then the penny finally dropped. Everyone’s a comedian.
To be fair, it all ended well. Rob Yong and that Swedish guy William final tabled the main event there was a monumental party. Stephen, the bar manager the Irish players absolutely love, and his staff rose to the occasion.
I’ve been flying the partypoker flag at festivals around Dublin of late and enjoying the craic. The lads in The Fitzwilliam Club were telling me a story from some years ago involving veteran poker player Harold Huberman. Harold impressed the lads by showing up in a brand new Lexus a few years back. They were even more impressed when he showed up a year later in another new one. They asked why he’d changed so quickly. He said the first one had been running fine but the ashtray was nearly full!
A couple of nights ago, I was playing an event in Kings Casino. Larry was guaranteeing €30k for a buy-in of €80. It was mighty craic. I was seated to the left of a popular deaf guy who loves it. One of the Darndale lads who was pretty pally with him was on his other side. A huge pot developed between some guy, who tabled three tens on the turn, and the deaf lad, who had only two sevens. The Darndale lad came back to the table and, on seeing his mate was drawing dead, said “Oh God. Looks like he’s blind as well as deaf.” OMG.
I’m looking forward to the next Grand Prix Dublin in the new year at the Green Isle. The online Day 1s start this Sunday, where if you make it through to Day 2 you come turn up at the event already in the money. That’s a nice place to be!
Over a decade ago Jesse May talked me into writing a magazine article by just telling a story or giving my thoughts on the poker world as though I was talking to a guy in a bar. I didn’t need to practice. This is the result…