Daniel Negreanu is running around the tables…literally. He is running around the tables. Dan Smith is playing on his iPhone and Shaun Deeb has just punched a bet into the felt. He has a great big smile on his face and it spreads from ear to ear. He must be one of the happiest bunnies on this earth.
A chair falls to the ground and the table starts to break. Yevgeniy Timoshenko gets a new seat card, but Padraig Parkinson does not. It’s the Irishman whose chair has hit the deck, just has Parkinson has also hit the deck. It’s a knockout punch and he won’t be getting back up from the floor. He is out of Event #41: $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) Six Handed and he hasn’t cashed.
I drag him to one of the tables and shove my Dictaphone in front of his time-travelled face. I love talking to Padraig because he makes you feel at ease. You know you are talking to Padraig and not some shell of Padraig like so many other poker players.
He tells me that he has been coming to the WSOP since the mid nineties, and if the luck of the Irish hadn’t been divided between three final tablists in 1999, maybe there would have been a flag of Parkinson’s cuddly face adorning the walls of the Rio. George McKeever (7th), Parkinson (3rd) and Noel Furlong (1st) all made the final table of the 1999 WSOP Main Event.
“The whole atmosphere of the WSOP is so special. I fell in love with it back then and if I’m not here I am either very, very ill or very, very dead.” Says Parkinson.
It wasn’t that long ago that Parkinson was nearly very, very dead after suffering a heart attack in Paris. That scare prompted a lot of talk about the Irishman’s relationship with the bottle. A relationship that Parkinson believes has been greatly exaggerated in the past.
“When you get a bit of a reputation it can be very hard to shake it off.” Says Parkinson.
There is always a joke in Parkinson. That’s why he is so loveable. I can imagine him going on a world tour where he has people in stitches as he recounts his poker tales.
“After my heart attack my Doctor said I could have two or three beers a day so I left the hospital in the back of a taxi and went straight to the pub.”
I’m not sure if that last line is a joke or not. But what I do know is Padraig Parkinson is a part of this patchwork quilt we know as the WSOP as anyone else. He shells out his dimes every year and let’s hope his heart can keep ticking for many, many more.