This article first appeared in Bluff Europe Magazine
I’ve been on the road for 3 weeks promoting partypoker’s Killarney event and generally having the craic in casinos, clubs and pubs in three countries. Whilst in London, I stayed with Irish player Rory Liffey, which is always good for a laugh. We ended up talking about The Poker Show, a bunch of TV shows hosted by Jesse May from the WSOP one summer in the noughties. I had something to do with it too but the main man behind it was our hugely talented friend, the late Rob Gardner, the guy who changed everything with Late Night Poker. Everything went fine until Rob had to return to England for ten days leaving Jesse and me in charge of a TV show. Most people wouldn’t leave us in charge of a goldfish. They’d be right. It’d drown for sure.
It wasn’t all our fault to be fair. Our Welsh camera man and his son seemed nice enough. Especially as the dad’s dream project was making a Rory Gallagher documentary. But one day, whilst filming in the Rio, they had a minor disagreement with a gentleman which ended up with them chasing him around the casino, apparently intent on beating him to death with their camera. Luckily, they didn’t quite pull it off. Not that you’d know that if you listened to the Rio security guys and the police banging on about it. They’re a little on the fussy side in my opinion.
Rory threatened to speak up on their behalf which would probably have brought the death penalty into play, so the lads headed for Swansea double quick. The next day, we showed up early as the new camera man we had employed was German and we wanted to make a good impression. I don’t think we totally succeeded, because a couple of minutes before we were due to roll, he was looking quite confused and a little agitated. Jesse spotted this and kindly asked if he would be more at ease if we showed him the running order for the show. He looked relieved and said that that would help enormously. So Jesse handed him the sheet of paper he was holding in his hand. You can imagine the look of shock on the guys face when he realised it was completely blank. At least, we got a laugh out of it if he didn’t!
As we were trying to entice English players to Killarney, I told Rory about the early years of the Irish Open. English characters who wouldn’t be out of place in a Runyon story used to show up. Micky Moran. Mick The Clock. Tall Alan. Larger than life and full of fun. Micky Moran made a big impression one year by tipping £25 every time he had a cup of tea, which was often. That was about the average industrial wage at the time so the waiters and waitresses had him surrounded one evening as he was doing his brains in a cash game. They were walking in circles around the table, at a good trot at first and then walking as if through treacle when they were within tea ordering distance of Micky. They were getting quite worried as it became obvious that Micky was concentrating on getting some of his losses back and not thinking of having a nice cuppa. They considered this a little selfish on his part and I could half see their point. Eventually something had to give. One of them couldn’t stand it any more and asked Micky straight out if he’d like a cup of tea. Micky told her he’d love one but couldn’t afford it!
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…