When you're away on a poker trip with your closest poker friends, there comes a point where you have to be a little more creative when it comes to conversational topics. You know all their stories, you've told them all of yours, and there's only so many times you can debate the merits of the check call versus the check raise. So in London I sat mostly listening to Jason and David recount tales of flights they had missed in the past. My only contribution to the conversation was a boastful one full of pride: that I had never missed a flight in my very long life. If years were chips in our group, I would have almost half the chips in play.
Pride came before a fall as thanks to the fiendish machinations of the world's most hateful airline Ryanair I was no longer able to truthfully make such a claim 24 hours later. I was at my gate in plenty of time, where I joined the back of very long queue. When I got to the top I found it was actually 2 queues and I was in wrong one. The other gate was more or less hidden behind one I queued for. I went to the right gate and even though screen over it said Final call and I could see the plane outside the bit... of a Madam working for Ryanair said it was closed. After a bit... of a heated debate over how tenable her position was in light of the screen saying Final call right over her head and the fact that we could see passengers still filing onto the plane before our very eyes, I realised that while I might be the one wearing the Poker Stars badge (slapped onto my shirt at the UKIPT Champion of Champions the night before) I was also the one drawing dead in this particular game of poker.
After mucking my argument I asked her how I got back out now I was plane committed but drawing dead to a departing flight. She gave me a look of disdain similar to the one Lappin gives people who try to check raise bluff him and sniffed "Back the way you came from". This turned out to be as much of a gross oversimplification as the statement you should always shove with a flush draw. It's a nightmare getting back out. I basically had to be escorted out by security.
A long argument with Ryanair desk about how much I had to pay for a new flight ensued. Then when I thought things couldn't get any weirder, just after I got my new ticket an Italian guy asked me if I was a professional poker player. When I said yes he said I love watching you on tv. At this point I figure he must be mistaking me for someone else as I have the Pokerstars badge still on from last night. As gargantuan as my ego is it doesn't allow me to believe that I'm "big in Italy". I nevertheless decided the easiest thing was to play along with it and let him go on believing I was Marcel Luske or whoever he thought I was. I chatted to him in as friendly a manner as a man who has just been gypped by the world's most hated airline possibly could, asking him his name, where he played and so forth. I figured I owed it to Marcel or whoever he thought I was and him to leave him with a positive experience and impression of his poker hero. He asked me if he could have photo taken with me. I said yes of course, giggling inside at the thought how easy it would be to smile in this photo thinking about the lengths he would have to go to to try to identify which particular TV poker hero he had been fortunate enough to run into. My smile widened as I thought about the fact that he was basically drawing as dead as anyone expecting a big display of humanity from a member of the Ryanair Ground Gestapo when he got round to showing the photo to all his friends in the vain hope that one of them might recognise the not really that well known grafter in the online poker mines.
Good luck with that, Michele. Finally, a shout out to my oldest son Paddy, the one member of the O'Kearney family who was on TV this week. Long time readers of this blog may remember that Paddy is a bit of an ecowarrior type, and his latest project, an urban farm in the centre of Dublin, came under the spotlight this week on RTE's Local Heroes. I don't know how long this link will last for, and I'm pretty sure it won't work for those of you outside Ireland, but here goes anyway.