Two years ago to the day before I flew out to Brighton for the Unibet UK tour, the first episode of the Chip Race launched. Lappin, Daragh and I felt we had given it our best and hoped it would be well received, but nothing could have prepared us for the reaction over the course of its short run. For the next two months, everywhere we went people told us how much they loved the show. The reaction in Ireland was overwhelming and heartening: the reaction abroad was astonishing. Everyone I spoke to in the UK when I played there seemed to be listening and loving. When I went to Vegas that summer people recognised my voice and told me how much they loved the show. Genuinely baffling for a podcast that was intended for the Irish market.
We recorded only seven episodes over seven Monday afternoons. Given that Sunday is the busiest and often most tilting day for online players, Monday is not necessarily the best of days to be dragging yourself into a studio in Clonskeagh hoping to speak intelligently about poker. One day on our walk from Lappin's pad in Portobello, a total stranger stopped us on the street to tell us how much he loved the show. That's the only time in either of our lives someone has stopped us in the street because poker.
We wrapped our first season (or what we thought was our first season) just before I flew to Vegas for the WSOP. The plan was the company who commissioned the podcast would line up a sponsor over the summer to make it worth everybody's while to go on dragging our tired tilted Monday asses to the studio in Clonskeagh.
Vegas went well, and when I chopped event 45 headsup for almost 300k, one of my first thoughts was this should make it easier to get a sponsor for the Chip Race. My profile had never been higher. The first season went on getting downloads and rave reviews. Some big players in poker expressed interest. Even random Americans in Vegas were talking about the show.
It didn't happen. The company who owned the Chip Race had gone into liquidation, leaving us in a legal limbo. We put the relaunch on hold until the legal situation was clarified. By the time it had, it seemed the moment had passed.
When I go abroad to play live, and a total stranger at the table looks me in the eye and clears his throat in such a manner as to suggest conversation is about to break out, I can generally predict the opening line as one of the following:
(1) You're such a luckbox/fish/donk online (followed by some bad beat they expect me to remember)
(2) I read/like/love your blog
(3) Is your study partner Daiva as beautiful as she looks in photos?
(4) Is Lappin really that much of an idiot/gobshite/dickhead? (Or if I'm in the US, "Does this Lappin guy actually exist, or did you just invent him to make your blog more interesting?")
(5) Will the Chip Race ever come back?
With trademark arrogance I no longer get surprised that people read the blog. It's been the one constant throughout my career. This is my 460th entry, I've written close to a million words as I went through my poker career here, and have been seen by over a million eyeballs (the traffic counter on the front page only tracks the last few years). Add in the fact that most blogs fizzle out after a dozen entries and it's not too surprising most people see me as "blog dude".
It's more surprising that two years on people still ask about something we only made seven short episodes of. It's a testament to the incredible work David Lappin put into designing the concept and the format, writing scripts (seriously, who scripts a poker podcast? Lappin, that's who), and painstakingly editing my jumbled verbal Grampa Simpson ad hocs (we quickly realised I'm not a person who can stick to or even read a script) into coherence.
So when David came to me and said Unibet wanted us to make a comeback, I felt a bit like Ewan McGregor when Danny Boyle asked him to do Trainspotting 2. I of course immediately agreed, as did Ewan, who reportedly added "But It better not be shite, Danny". It's fair to say I feel a certain trepidation that we run the risk of tarnishing the memory of something that was pretty good if we are not careful. I guess it's up to us to work our balls off to make sure that that doesn't happen. That it isn't shite.
Actually, come to think of it, it's David's balls that will be doing all the work. They say you shouldn't mess with a winning formula, so I'll just keep showing up, saying whatever random stuff passes through my head, leaving David the hair pulling task of extracting some pearls of wisdom from my verbal dung pile. Good luck with that, David.
One of our first guests is Ian Simpson, and it's fair to say the interview was not without its contentious moments, as this picture of David literally taking it on the chins from Ian immediately afterwards implies. So tune in to see what got Iany so riled up.