When we first conceived of the idea of The Poker show, we knew it wasn’t happening without Padraig Parkinson. Padraig’s wit and WSOP spirit, not to mention his poker credibility, were key to both carrying the show and helping us to secure guests. Padraig is the only guy I know who can both completely take the pis out of someone without them realizing it, and then later when they do realize he was taking the pis out of them they find it funny to boot. It’s a unique skill set. Unfortunately for Padraig, he also possesses the skill set of being able to play poker, and quite early on in 2005 it was clear that The Poker Show and Padraig’s chances of winning a bracelet were going to have trouble coexisting over the course of the summer.
I took him down for the count on a 124 degree day early on, when we rented a 1960’s convertible and spent the day at the Neon Boneyard with no bottles of water. Padraig never recovered from the heatstroke.
It’s not like taking Padraig out of the WSOP was inconsequential. The WSOP main event means the world to Padraig, he was 3rd in 1999 and usually spends several months a year before the main event getting in shape by eating right and going off the drink. Here’s a chat from 2004, steeped in the history of the Binion’s Horseshoe coffee shop. The whole interview is gold, but this snippet may give a little insight into the reverence Padraig has for the institution of the WSOP. You can also read a great Q&A Padraig did just this week with Nolan Dalla, Facing the Firing Squad .
I’d like to think The Poker Show was worth it if only because of Off The Wall. We wanted to have a segment in the show that was Padraig’s alone, and he came up with this idea. Like much of the show, we would film Off The Wall with no script, no plan, and no idea where Padraig was going to take it before it happened. This Off The Wall segment was one of my favorites, because it was so unexpected, so brilliant, and it generated so much buzz. Our audience was literally up in arms with who Padraig decided to make his first victim, but as Padraig never failed to say with a straight face, it was the voter’s decision and we were as shocked and disgusted with the result as everyone else.
Myself, though, I call it the greatest prediction in the history of poker. For who besides Padraig Parkinson could have foretold that the first modern poker hero to be shunned in disgrace would be the same one who literally came, Off The Wall. Take that, Bub.