It sounded like it should be fun. It had all the ingredients. A popular poker player who is a cancer survivor running a charity event for The Irish Cancer Society a few days after Christmas in a great pub venue.

The player is Peter from Skerrys. About six months ago, in the middle of his battle with cancer, he showed up at a tournament in The Regency Hotel. The guy beside me remarked that he looked like shit. “He’s still breathing isn’t he?”, I replied: “Anyway, he spoke to me for 45 minutes on the phone the other day without pausing for breath, so he’s okay”. “Only 45 minutes?” he said, “Told you he wasn’t well”.

Of course, he was right. It’d take Peter half an hour to get the time from the talking clock. The venue was Joe Mays in Skerrys, where there is a fun game every Tuesday evening. I’d strongly recommend a visit if you enjoy the craic. They’re even very nice to me! I turned up an hour late with popular Irish players Eamonn and Willow Connolly; they asked me to call them that. With Willow involved, that was like being early. After final tabling the partypoker Fitzwilliam Festival before finishing runner up to John Power in the partypoker Grand Prix Cork, Willow was in top form. Eamonn too as she’d stopped whingeing however temporarily. We hit the bar and were soon joined by a Northern Ireland brother and sister team who we are, for reasons that will become obvious, going to call Bonnie and Clyde. It fast became a party as various other players joined us, all in sparkling form. That might explain how it all went pear-shaped later.

We eventually joined the tournament but continued sinking pints. Clyde was proving a big fan of Hop House 13, which I’m told is quite nice though I’m not sure a guy who is 120lbs soaking wet should be attacking the second gallon with quite as much dedication as Clyde was showing, but I didn’t feel I was really in a position to criticise. He didn’t hang around too long in the tournament but took like a duck to water to the cash game. A duck that had missed a few swimming lessons.

I was surprisingly detained in the tournament and having a ball so I missed the main action. Barny, oops I mean Clyde, really liked the trophy Peter had laid on, wrapped his coat around it, shook hands with everyone and left the building with it under his arm followed quickly by Bonnie who wisely figured he might need help. I’d swear this was the first time he’d ever “borrowed” anything in his life. There was only one eye witness to this hideous crime.

As the tournament was drawing to a close, Peter started looking around for the trophy. He had probably spent all week practising the presentation, so he eventually began to panic. Despite being on the recovery from several months chemotherapy, he finished up on his hands and knees crawling under tables searching for a trophy that was about a mile away. He didn’t find it.

After I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the tournament, the eye witness to the crime, burdened with the guilt of alone knowing what had happened, told me everything. I hadn’t laughed as much all year as I did then.

Next morning, I messaged Clyde to congratulate him on finally getting his hands on a trophy. He seemed surprised he was a suspect but told me he planned on returning the trophy to the scene of the crime that lunchtime. I couldn’t help phoning Peter later in the afternoon to see what line he’d been fed.

I wasn’t disappointed. Bonnie and Clyde had explained to him that they had found the trophy in Bonnie’s bag and that it must have fallen in. I said that sounded very plausible indeed. I forgot to mention they had already posted pictures of Clyde posing outside in the dark with his trophy on social media. That would have taken a little explaining! You couldn’t make this stuff up! Happy New Year.

This article first appeared in Bluff Europe Magazine

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