Preliminary Day Two

The Poker Mi#ion Preliminary Day Three: Parkinson's Gear Shifting Derails Opponents

THE ISLE OF MAN-In the 1999 World Series of Poker, Ireland's three representatives put on a show that it's hard to imagine will ever be duplicated, or even approached. 393 players started the event, three of them Irish, and after 386 players had been eliminated, all three Irishmen-Noel Furlong, Padraig Parkinson, and George McKeever-still remained.

Furlong eventually won the title, knocking out McKeever 7th and Parkinson 3rd, so not only did all three make the final seven with an Irishman winning, but because Furlong took down his two countrymen, no one in the field ever knocked out an Irishman except another Irishman.

Today, I had both the privilege and misfortune to be able to watch one of that Irish triumvirate up close. In the final supersatellite before The Big Event, 120 players entered and coughed up enough rebuy money to create seven 000 seats.


When 22 players remained, and the blinds at 000-2,000 and the antes 0, Fate sent Dublin native Parkinson to my table, and he arrived with a stack roughly equal to my own. With the blinds and antes already quite high compared to the stacks, I was all set to start moving my chips much more aggressively.

Parkinson never gave me-or anyone else-a chance to make a move. He kept firing out, and although I (and I assume any number of my fellow competitors) had plenty of hands I was willing to raise with, I never found anything I could call him with.

It was a dramatic reversal of form from limit hold'em, where late position is normally so critical. Faced with Parkinson's onslaught, the notion of position changed entirely. I didn't want the button. I wanted early position so I could get a bet in before Parkinson could, and so did everyone else, because whenever Parkinson did decide to pass, one of the two players on his left raised.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Parkinson's A-K busted two players on one hand to get us down to 18 players, because I now had a 50-50 chance of getting away from him, and even if we did wind up at the same table, I would have another even chance to get him on my left, instead of my right.

The table change cards arrived, the random deal sent them out. Padraig Parkinson, Table B, Seat 6. Andy Glazer, Table B, Seat 7. Exit Andy Glazer (I think 16th). I went off to try one last one-table satellite, got all my chips in with Q-Q against A-10, and this time a Ten on the flop teamed up with another on the river put me in press row for the Poker Mi#ion.

Frankly, if I was going to have to contend with Parkinson again, press row was clearly a much safer spot for me.


Meanwhile, the big Super was drawing to an exciting finish. Eight players remained for the seven seats, and when I arrived, Parkinson was one of the shorter stacks, and the gigantic blinds (000-10,000) and antes (000) meant that it was costing ,000 to sit out a round. That was just about what Parkinson had in front of him when I arrived.

He moved in two straight hands, got no callers either time, and suddenly his stack was safely large enough to wait for the finish, which came when Maurice Samuels took Q-Q against A-K. The first card off the deck was an ace, and we had seven winners: Parkinson, Paul Testud, Dessie Higgins, Chris Bjorin, Hamid Motagamin, and Kevin Song.

"A pleasure watching you work, Maestro," I said to him as he rose from his seat. "Always nice to see a great artist perform. Kind of wish I hadn't been in the line of fire, though."

He took the compliment gracefully, and if he plays the same way the next few days, the 000,000 won't be going so very far away from the Isle of Man.


In the afternoon supersatellite, WSOP finalist Jim McManus, the amateur poker player and gifted novelist who came to the Series to write a story for Harper's Magazine and then instead became the story himself (his article about his storybook finish came out in the December issue of Harper's a couple of days ago), got down to the final five in a super where they were giving away four seats, and had his small pair counterfeited on the river when a second pair hit the board, giving the hand to Maurice Samuel's A-10.

McManus did earn 295 for fifth, a bit less than the quarter mil he took home from the Series. He's here covering the Mi#ion for Playboy. A writer's life can really be hell sometimes.

"Well, now I know how you felt on the first day," Jim told me (I'd also come fifth in a four seat giveaway event). "We have way too much in common."

Yeah, we're practically identical twins, if you don't count the quarter million from the Series and the fact that he's here writing for a magazine slightly better known than or Card Player. I really wish Jim wasn't such a nice guy so I could just hate him instead of feeling happy for him.

The results in McManus's super saw Fariborz Azima, Panz Wilson, Maurice Samuels and "Captain" Tom Franklin getting seats, and Richard Whitehouse (295), Steven Wilston (5), Eddie Biber (0) and Sheree Franklin (5) taking the other money finishes.


We did have a nine player "Mammoth" today, with TJ Cloutier, Derei Asher, and Mark Brocher grabbing the three seats, much to fourth place finisher David Plastik's dismay. Twice Plastik saw opponents go all-in in situations when a KO would have given him a seat (and a nice two-step, because he got his seat in the Mammoth by winning a 0 one-table event), but the short stacks survived both confrontations.


Cloutier stayed busy, and I chanced upon an amusing confrontation towards the end of a 0 one-table satellite he was playing. With three players left, I arrived in time to see a reasonably large pot already in play between TJ and Daniel Negreanu. The flop came A-K-J, TJ moved in, and Daniel thought for a while. Layne Flack was chatting away with Daniel as he pondered the call. It seemed pretty clear Daniel thought he might be losing, but the pot was offering a good price on a call.

"What do you think he has?" asked Flack.

"Well, I hope he has A-Q," Daniel said. "If he has A-Q, I know I got him dead."

"Why, you have A-9?" asked Layne, alluding to the heartbreaking hand that knocked off Cloutier's A-Q at the end of this year's World Series. No answer from Daniel. Finally he called.

TJ turned over A-Q, and Daniel turned over A-9. The turn and river changed nothing. A-Q had held up this time.

"I guess that makes up for it not holding up at the Series," laughed TJ. Almost. By my estimate it will have to hold up in about 200 more situations like this one for TJ to get even just on the money from the Series beat, and that's not counting the magic title that got away, of course.


The big question everyone is asking is still "How many people will buy in tomorrow?" No one knows and there is a nice little market building in over-under bets.

I'm guessing 190, but that's strictly a guess, based on nothing more than rumor, innuendo, a tiny amount of deductive logic, various astrological phenomena, and some ancient Aramaic scrolls I found on the beach here. No bets from me on this one.

With most of the world's best no-limit players assembled here, not much in the way of dead money, and a virtual impossibility that we could start with fewer than 125 players, it's obvious that no one player would be worth an investment at even 20-1 odds.

I gotta tell you though, after watching Padraig Parkinson today, the oddsmakers better not offer a very long price on him. If they do, I might plunk down enough on him to catch me up with Jim McManus' quarter million. Then, if I could just talk to Hugh Hefner for a little while.

See you tomorrow.