Dave Lappin talks Season 10 of the Chip Race, wanky speeches, and more


Unibet Ambassador, Dave Lappin, talks to CalvinAyre about the forthcoming 10th Season of The Chip Race, wanky speeches, and more.

In draft one, I wrote a lengthy introduction on Mickey Mouse treating Oswald the Lucky Rabbit like a vivisected frog as he road Steamboat Willie into a horizon reserved for icons. I likened the award-winning Chip Race podcast to Mickey Mouse and the also-rans to the role of Oswald.

dave-lappin-talks-season-10-of-the-chip-race-wanky-speeches-and-moreWhat an own goal that would have been. Using the Disney metaphor to show that the Chip Race is to poker players what a salt shaker is to a two-year-old, doesn’t work because in the U.K. and Ireland, ‘Mickey Mouse’ means shit.

I don’t think The Chip Race is shit.

Side note, I was going to start this piece using info on the rising levels of gonorrhoea. Dave Lappin didn’t want me using the word ‘gonorrhoea’ in his article. Between you and me, Dave’s gone a bit Kardashian since winning his award and considers the term ‘gonorrhoea’ too lower class.

Fuck Dave Lappin.

Does he realise how difficult it is to spell gonorrhoea?

So with no gonnnorrhoea or Mickey Mouse you end up with no introduction, and for that, I wholeheartedly apologise.

The Chip Race is a variety show (don’t call it a poker show or Dave Lappin will add you to the rest of the debris floating around in his beard) about to embark on its Tenth Season. But when did the hourglass start dropping sand on this one?

“Doing a poker podcast wasn’t actually our idea,” says the co-creator Dave Lappin. “Four years ago, Dara {O’Kearney} and I were approached by a company who make sports podcasts and asked if we would host a poker show. Our interest was immediately pricked. We wanted it to stand out from what was becoming a crowded market, so Dara, Daragh Davey and I spent a lot of time thinking about the format. After some back and forth, we settled on the variety show concept – an eclectic five segments covering different aspects of the poker world.”

As someone who hosts his podcast from a laptop sitting on an ironing board, the production of the Chip Race Podcast impresses me. It’s the compound fracture amongst leg breaks – something different that makes people go, “Holy fuck!” From speaking to Lappin previously, I get the impression that part of the reason the show is so perfectly manicured is Lappin’s attention to detail.

“To this day, curating the show is a big focus,” says Lappin. “We want it to be fun but also serious when it needs to be. We want to cover real news stories but also offer our opinions. We want guests from all over the poker landscape – old-school pros, online beasts, writers, bloggers, dealers, TDs, industry professionals, male/female, different nationalities, etc. Then you have Dara’s strategy pieces which are a treasure trove of free poker content. He dials the difficulty level up and down on those but, to be honest, he articulates his points so well that even the advanced hands are very accessible for our recreational fans.”

One of the things that make The Chip Race standout from the crowd is the decision to make it seasonal. I wonder if Lappin, O’Kearney and Davey thought of the idea while watching Daniel Negreanu’s documentary on Netflix?

“I’ll hold my hands up there,” says Lappin while holding his hands up. “It’s a bit of a marketing gimmick. Seasons of seven with a mid-season hiatus is a very old-fashioned concept, but it allows us to promote ‘season premieres’ and ‘season finales’. It also suits how Dara and I work on the show in fits and starts. We both play a lot of live poker, so it‘s handy to be one month on, one month off.”

One of the toughest challenges any podcast faces is finding interesting and malleable guests. The paradox being the people the audience most wants to hear from are less likely to want to talk. I ask Lappin how the team has found this part of the graft?

“Mostly great,” says Lappin. “I’d say there are three or four people we’ve tried but failed to get over the years. I won’t say their names because we are relentless so we will probably try to get them again. Poker people are great. Even the bigger names are very forthcoming.

“Sometimes, we know the person ourselves. That’s an easy one. Sometimes we are one degree of separation, so it’s a case of using a go-between to make the initial introduction. With guests with whom we had no connection, we have sent Facebook messages or emails, introducing ourselves and asking if they would like to come on.”

A podcast is a casserole of vulnerability mixed with a few shame dumplings, chowed down with slices of bread baked in a shop called courage. The host and the guest both feel the squeeze. Some revel in the grand reveal and others are as tight as a naughty Zippy. What constitutes a great guest?

“If a guest has a good sense of humour that’s great for us because a joke is a great ice-breaker and shortcut to familiarity,” says Lappin. “A bit of star-power never hurts because a big name on the tin is a huge selling point. That said, Dara and I are drawn to stories and points of view more than anything else so basically somebody who has carved an interesting path through poker or has an angle on a relevant subject matter.”

And what about the other side of that coin – what type of guest bamboozles you so much you want to take a one way trip to Mars minus a respirator?

“Mr One Word Answer” is a nightmare,” says Lappin. “It’s our job as hosts to put the guest at ease, warm them up if need be, tease out the responses but sometimes, and it’s rare, you hit a brick wall. In that spot, we still put out the segment. The guest has given us their time, and we respect that. I will always edit the piece to accentuate the best parts – at least I hope I do!”

After choosing the right guests, fluffing them in the right way, and shining the show in the editing suite with all the vigour and verve of polishing the bottoms of your Peruvian Subbuteo stars, what are the shows that make Lappin’s sizzle reel?

“It’s tough for me to pick favourites,” says Lappin. “Jennifer Tilly’s episodes are an obvious highlight, especially the one that featured Mrs Doke {Dara’s wife}. Of the 2019 shows, I loved the episodes with Krissy Bicknell, Bryn Kenney, Dominik Nitsche, Joe Ingram and Jungleman. My favourite this year is probably the last one with Garry Gates and Luke Vrabel. Garry is a gentleman, and he told his story with such humility and gratitude while Luke had us in stitches from beginning to end. He’s a polarizing character, but I love him. He has a good heart really, and I think we captured that side of him while also allowing him to fire off his shots.”

During my starring role as a guest on the Chip Race, which is coming up during Season 10, and wasn’t good enough to make the 2019 favourites list, the boys asked for my opinion on awards shows.

I steal his question and throw it right back at him like a javelin from Fatima.


“The Global Poker Award nomination was a lovely surprise,” says Lappin. “Lots of people work hard on the show, so it was recognition of their time and effort. Neither Dara nor I reckoned we had a chance at winning, so an impromptu jaunt to Vegas wasn’t on the cards. We just tried to exploit the extra attention for its marketing value, hoping to pick up a thousand extra listeners.

“On the night of the awards, I went to bed. It was my son’s second birthday party that day, so I was exhausted and went to bed before the ceremony even started. I pinged everyone from the show to say ‘Obviously we aren’t going to win, but I want to say thank you for all the hard work’, and then I drifted off to sleep. I woke to 170 notifications on my phone and was like ‘no… fucking… way!’

“The praise was really nice but to be honest, neither Dara nor I take awards seriously. There are loads of great podcasts, any of whom could have won. I will say though that respect from your peers is a meaningful pat on the back.

“On the flip-side, the derision from one particular quarter was met by us with incredulity. Imagine being the most famous poker player in the world at an event run by your sponsor, where you are there in an ambassadorial role. Then the podcast with the guys you don’t like wins, and you make an embarrassing show of yourself in front of a room full of people. Then you take to your own podcast and allude to subterfuge in the jury room to try to undermine the result. Then you take to twitter and make disgusting misogynistic comments about one of the host’s girlfriends. Well, you don’t have to imagine it. It actually happened, and it was beyond the Pale. But I guess he ultimately reaped what he sowed. The company that stood by while he black-faced finally had enough of his crap and canned him.”

It’s impossible to avoid controversial remarks when interviewing Lappin, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that a two-year-old’s birthday party knackers him out.

Who would he love to have on his show, other than the former PokerStars Ambassador?

“Our wishlist includes Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Vicky Coren, Erik Seidel, Stevie Chidwick, Phil Ivey and Viktor Blom all for different reasons. Firstly none of them are over-exposed. Quite the contrary, in fact, so I know there would be a huge appetite from our listeners to hear their thoughts.

“Doyle is a legendary figure and would offer an amazing perspective on poker across over half a century.

“Chris’s story, particularly the Full Tilt stuff, is largely untold and while I would far from give him a pass, there are a lot of details in what happened that have never been reported and I know that if the full story were known, players would see him in a more complex, not 100% negative light.

“Vicky is somebody Dara, and I have wanted on the show since the beginning. She’s the only two-time EPT champion, a wonderful writer, an accomplished broadcaster and the host of my favourite quiz show!

“Erik Seidel is a bit of a mystery – one of the few guys who has managed to stay at the top of the game through a dozen paradigms. That takes some mind, and I’d love to get inside it.

“Stevie Chidwick is arguably the best player in the world right now, and the nature of our game means that makes him the best exponent of the game that there ever was. How could you not want to ask him about his method?

“Phil Ivey is another mystery-man. I remember those ‘Life of Ivey’ episodes and was fascinated by the only proper content that gave us a glimpse into his world. A lot has happened in his life since then, and I would love to ask him about it all.

“Viktor Blom is a friend of Dara and I so we’ve asked him many times. We’ve cajoled him and bribed him. We even got him drunk, and he agreed, but then he woke up the next morning and said (or pretended) he didn’t remember. He’s a sweet man with a mind-blowing story, but he’s a shy guy, and I respect that he prefers to keep things private.”

Thanks for that list, Dave.

I’ve already placed calls to get them on my new show.

dave-lappin-talks-season-10-of-the-chip-race-wanky-speeches-and-moreAny ideas that didn’t pan out so I can avoid those flying eggs?

“You’d probably have to ask our audience,” says Lappin. “Some interviews are better than others of course, but I’m not sure that counts as an idea that didn’t work. The edited nature of the show means nothing slips through that isn’t vetted thoroughly.

“I guess attempts at humour have been misconstrued by some people. The Irish sense of humour involves a lot of good-natured banter and ribbing. There’s nothing we can do if a joke doesn’t land for someone or a bit of slagging is misinterpreted as malicious. End of the day, it’s entertainment. It’s not life and death.”

Not until you wake up one morning and find 170 notifications on your Twitter account calling you a c*nt.

With the newest season of Peaky Blinders already confusing people who’ve paid for a VPN and still can’t access the BBC iPlayer to check out those dastardly Shelbys, there’s only one other returning season to make your pubes stand on end.

Season 10 of The Chip Race.

“Episode 1 is a banger with Jason Mercier, Barny Boatman, Jamie Kerstetter and some undecorated writer we plucked from obscurity called Lee Davy.” Says Lappin. “I’m not sure of the exact running order after that, but I can tell you that we will have four guests per episode and they include Sarah Herring, Joe Beevers, Dylan Linde, Patrick Clarke and return visits from Dominik Nitsche, Maria Konnikova and Ryan Laplante.”

I wonder what Lappin and the crew feel their audience values after shipping more seasons than Game of Thrones?

“I think they value our honesty,” says Lappin. “Dara and I will always call balls and strikes as we see them. I hope they like our interview style. We try to loosen up the guest, relate to their story and go a little deeper if possible. We’ve gotten better at this over time. One thing I know they value is Dara’s sage wisdom dispensed in our strategy segments. Listening to those or watching Willie Elliot’s brilliantly animated versions of them on our YouTube Channel is literally money in their pockets.”

When Lappin and O’Kearney aren’t playing poker, one of them is travelling around making money in some of the toughest tournaments on the planet, while also scribing New York Times Bestselling books, and the other is in bed by 8 pm after being run ragged by his nipper.

So, what else is occurring?

“September is jam-packed with live poker,” says Lappin. “Right now is the Unibet Belgian Poker Championships in Blankenberg. On the 10th of September comes the Unibet Open Malta and then on the heels of that is Unibet U.K. Tour Brighton and Unibet DSO Tallinn. October is just as crazy with the Battle of Malta; the Unibet Poker sponsored IPO in Dublin and the Malta Poker Festival in consecutive weeks. I’ll finally get to play some online poker in November before the Unibet Open Paris at the end of the month which, mark my words, is going to be the biggest Unibet Open of all time!”

If you didn’t realise it before, Dave Lappin is a Unibet Ambassador, and it seems that it makes him feel pretty cool, but how does podcasting make him feel?

“That’s a wanky question, so you’re getting a wanky answer,” says Lappin. “It makes me feel grateful. I’m grateful to have any audience, let alone a tribe of over 15,000 who like and support what we do. I’m grateful for Willie, Daragh, Ian, Daiva, all the editors and anyone who has worked on the show over the years. I’m grateful to Unibet Poker – our old boss Dave Pomroy and our current boss Kris Bergvall, the events team and the marketing/social media team – who pay for everything and help us promote the show.

“Most of all though I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with Dara. He always says I use at least one part of all my interviews into talk about our bromance, so I guess that’s this part. Dara is a phenomenal player, a superb coach, a talented writer and the best gosh-darn podcast co-host a fella could ask for. That wanky enough for you?”

And to think, this man wants you to believe he goes to bed, ignoring his awards nominations.

I bet his unread GPA speech was even wankier than that.

Postnote: Dave Lappin’s use of the term “Mr One Word Answer” was as misogynistic as they come, and his views do not reflect those of the interviewer.