Monday, May 13, 2019

The year I wrote a book

A famous Irish writer, Flann O’Brien I think, once created a character who would refer to years by their most memorable quality. “The year I took a bath”. As I get older, I have a new appreciation for this. When was my youngest son born? The year we lived in Paris. When did I become a Bowie fan? The year I did my Leaving Cert. 2007 was “the year I learned poker”.

I’m pretty sure when I remember this year’s Irish Open, it’ll be as “the year I wrote a book”. Because certainly from a personal point of view the poker itself was very unmemorable. I did make one final table, but it lasted all of two hands, in the smallest event I played.

My main event came down to a very uneventful day one, at the end of which I bagged up a bit more than starting stack on my first bullet, followed by a very eventful day 2. I more than trebled my stack in the first level of day two, then failed to win another pot and bust about ninety from the money. Not even many interesting hands: I posted the most interesting one on ShareMyPair.

I brought two boxes of books to Citywest on the off chance somebody might want one, and spent much of my weekend there signing books for people. I was overwhelmed by how many people wanted a book signed: dealers, bloggers, industry people, players and random passers by. Parky bought a book then immediately lost it, as you do if you’re Parky.

A year can have more than one mnemonic. 2008 is, in addition to being the year I won my first big live tournament, also the year I quit competitive running. And this Irish Open will also be remembered as the year of the GPI award. Roland and Hans presented me with the award in the bar as I was waiting for my lift one night. In the run up to this year’s Open I couldn’t help but notice that while there was an overwhelming consensus in our favour in the great Dnegs v The Chip Race Twitter spat, most of the very few dissenting voices from said overwhelming consensus were Irish. Very few in number, but I figured there was always the chance it might be the tip of the iceberg, so I steeled myself in advance for some negative feedback. As it turned out, I needn’t have bothered: of the literally hundreds who stopped me to talk about it, there wasn’t a single divergence from “Congrats on the award” and “Dnegs is an absolute tool”. People I’ve known for years and would have assumed took no interest in such things taking the trouble to do this made me unexpectedly emotional, and delighted at the pride my fellow country people were taking in the fact that from modest beginnings a poker podcast by (in the words of Kat Arnsby) “two Irish weirdos” had got to where The Chip Race is now. And not just the Irish.

In the run up to this year’s Irish Open, I took a trip down memory lane tweeting out my Irish Open blogs of years past, and at the event Laura Cornelius interviewed me about it. Trends from the past were reenforced: bricking the main, a stint in the commentary box, lots of drinking and socializing, and a draining of both my bankroll and energy as the event wound to a close. This time at least, the books in the boxes in my room gradually disappeared, and 20s appeared as if by magic in my bag to help replenish the bankroll.

At the start of the year I quit competitive running, I sat down in Drogheda to play my first big live event. I was starstruck, because to my immediate right sat Jen Mason, all English sophistication and technical perfection. I still get a little starstruck when I run into events regularly, even if she works mainly on the industry side these days, and no less so than when she asked me to sign a couple of books for her.

Throughout that European Deepstack back in the year I quit competitive running, the long suffering Mrs Doke was chauffeusing me back and forth to Dublin. While I was mostly folding upstairs, she sat down in reception reading a book. The highlight of her day was usually when someone she described as a charming dapper Englishman would come out for a break, and talk to her.

As long time readers of this blog will know, the final table of the event featured wield famous Joe Beevers, and 8 unknown Irishmen, many (myself, Gary Clarke and Marc McDonnell) recording their first cashes on Joe’s Hendon Mob site. When Joe bust, the relief was palpable that the world class player at the table was gone. My phone beeped with a text from Mireille:

“The nice Englishman just left :(“

Luckily for us, the nice Englishman is still gracing poker rooms with his elegance. I almost had a heart attack when he bought a book on the last day, and asked for a signature and a photo. As if this wasn’t already above and beyond, he also set about selling a few copies of the book to his tablemates.

One of these years I’ll get a proper run in the main event, but until then the friendship and warmth of the event is more than adequate compensation. Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to say hi or have a chat, and apologies I didn’t get to speak with most of you for longer.

This is my 498th blog, meaning my 500th is coming soon, and we all know I live a milestone. I need to have a think what I want to put in my 500th, but for now, I want to thank you everyone who followed my journey through poker yet. It’s not done yet, and I’ll try to keep it interesting.



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