An Irish poker legend
I’m presently on the Irish Open, an annual occasion I at all times affiliate with Easter, in addition to a gentleman by the title of Liam Flood. Once I got here on the poker scene, the Irish Open was already considered Europe’s premier stay occasion, and the person most straight chargeable for and in control of that was Liam Flood.
We used to joke that Liam must die for that to vary, and so it turned out.
A traditionalist, he insisted on a 10K beginning stack (he thought any greater than that was simply nonsense) and a construction that banged alongside. We used to joke that Liam must die for that to vary, and so it turned out.
When he did cross in 2014, the Irish Open added a brand new occasion to the schedule: the Liam Flood Memorial. I’m unsure the 20K beginning stack would have met together with his approval, however the 15-minute clock actually would have.
Our first assembly
It was the early winter of 2008. My spouse drove me over icy roads to Day 2 of the Cavan Open within the Irish midlands, all of the whereas muttering below her breath. Her temper was under no circumstances improved by the truth that I managed to bust on the very first hand, earlier than she had even parked the automotive. Not relishing an evening of placing up along with her continued mutterings, I bailed and informed her to drop me on the Sporting Emporium, one among Dublin’s huge card golf equipment on the peak of the Celtic Tiger growth.
The Emporium was having its month-to-month match that night time. At my beginning desk, I discovered myself wedged between a younger Danny Maxwell (this was earlier than he had grow to be the blogger and poker photographer extraordinaire he's now) and Liam Flood. I knew Danny, whereas I solely had a obscure concept of who Liam was on the time, so Danny was my most popular dialog companion. However Liam listened in and sometimes chimed in.
Don’t trouble asking me for a deal – I by no means do offers.”
Just a few hours later, I discovered myself on the similar desk as Liam once more – the ultimate one. I hadn’t gathered rather more than beginning stack, whereas Liam had half the chips in play already. Chirpy chips they had been too, as he introduced proper at the beginning: “Don’t trouble asking me for a deal – I by no means do offers.”
He defined that the one motive he was right here was that he had a Poker Million semi-final to play in a number of days. Having believed it was going to be six-handed, he had spent a lot of the earlier month sharpening his 6-max abilities on-line, solely to be informed late within the day that on-line sponsor Ladbrokes had been parachuting two on-line qualifiers straight into the semi. So Liam was right here to brush up his eight-handed play.
Deal or No Deal
Liam proceeded to mow via the ultimate desk and remove everybody. By the point he received heads up with me, he had a 15-to-1 chip lead. He repeated his “no offers” place, so I by no means requested for one. Early skirmishes went very effectively for me and I tripled up regularly. One hero name with King-high appeared to genuinely flabbergast Liam, and I suspected Liam was trying to deal. He’d already requested how a lot we had been enjoying for a number of occasions, after which requested for a cigarette break. I didn’t actually really feel it was my place to supply a deal; he nonetheless out-chipped me 4-to-1 and I used to be truly having fun with the heads up battle.
When Liam got here again from the break, nonetheless, however his earlier feedback about by no means providing offers, he supplied me greater than ICM would give me, so I used to be joyful sufficient to just accept. My good friend Rob Taylor requested me why I agreed when (his phrases, not mine) I used to be destroying him heads-up (I wasn’t actually, I used to be primarily simply working effectively). Though the heads-up was going effectively for me, I figured that if it continued to take action, Liam would simply begin transport lots pre-flop because the blinds rose, after which I’d have little or no edge.
That was very a lot Liam’s sport: in an period when TV tournaments had been primarily 20 bigs or much less crapshoots from the get-go, the “execs” of the day (Liam was at all times adamant that he noticed himself as an novice fanatic fairly than a professional) performed them terribly, limp folding, elevate folding and three-bet folding approach an excessive amount of, leaving themselves open to exploitation by Liam, who began re-shoving tremendous large. Watching them again now, one can solely chortle at how a lot Liam received away with. His technique was at all times the identical: play tight pre-antes when blinds had been small, then money in on the picture by going psychological. Or in different phrases, excellent STT technique, years earlier than the remainder of us had figured it out
Brief stack grasp
I used to be additionally conscious that the very last thing Liam needed was to enter his semi having had a 15-to-1 chip lead overturned heads-up by an unknown, so I figured it was plus-EV long run to just accept the deal and let him go off because the nominal winner in a assured temper. Liam bossed his semi and made the ultimate, which he ended up chopping 4 methods with three different Irishmen: Marty Smyth, Eoghan O’Dea and Ciaran O’Leary.
Liam simply stored sticking it of their eye and getting the fold
For a person who professed amateurism, Liam was many years forward of the curve in his understanding of quick stack technique. Whereas his contemporaries tut-tutted at his unsubtle, no showdown, all-in or fold strategy as an incapability to play post-flop, Liam simply stored sticking it of their eye and getting the fold. By some means, this novice who by no means bothered a lot with the WSOP or EPTs gathered stay winnings effectively in extra of $1m and a substantial quantity on-line (I used to be one of many few to whom he confided his on-line title and might verify he received a WCOOP). He satellited into most tournaments he performed on-line and is one among solely 4 gamers to have received the Irish Open twice.
Whilst his well being failed, he remained aggressive. After that four-way chop within the Poker Million, he went deep twice within the Irish Open (most not too long ago final yr), two UKIPTs, and received an EPT facet occasion in Monte Carlo.
A friendship born
I by no means had trigger to remorse my resolution to cut that night time within the Emporium with him. Au contraire: our friendship regularly grew over time. If he appreciated you, Liam was beneficiant together with his time, recommendation and even his cash. He insisted on calling me “O’Kearney,” like a stern headmaster (perhaps he simply didn’t know my first title).
On one event we flew over to Nottingham for a match. On the airplane and within the cab in, he requested me how issues had been going. He was a greater listener than most poker gamers and appeared genuinely , so I leveled with him: I used to be struggling. My first main on-line downswing had completed for many of my bankroll and my complete life roll had disappeared into the black gap that was Anglo Irish Financial institution. Conscious of my household state of affairs (particularly that I had one to feed, in contrast to most poker gamers), Liam requested, “Would ten grand tide you over?” Not sure of whether or not this was an precise provide and barely embarrassed if it was, I stated issues hadn’t reached that dire state but, and I used to be assured of grinding my approach out.
I subsequently discovered from others that Liam had helped out at the least a dozen gamers over time, in lots of instances to clear even greater money owed. This was a facet of Liam most individuals in all probability didn’t see; behind his sly mischievous humorousness lurked a person who was at all times keen to assist out, however by no means sought credit score for it.
In 2010 I spent a while with Liam at EPT Vilamoura, one among my first EPTs. Suitably depressed after getting knocked out a bit earlier than the bubble by eventual winner Toby Lewis, I made a decision to spend the remainder of the journey sulking in my room clicking buttons. Liam lured me out by telling me he had swapped 10% with Teddy Sheringham (the soccer participant), and whereas he was joyful that Teddy had made Day 3, he was apprehensive that Teddy would possibly play a bit too tight within the later phases. He requested me if I may have breakfast with them and provides Teddy some pointers. Shortly after I received there, Liam made his excuses and left us to it. I felt the notion of me allotting recommendation to Teddy was barely ridiculous, so I didn’t trouble. As an alternative, I loved a really nice breakfast speaking about soccer, golf, sport and life on the whole.
he had that mischievous glint in his eye
Teddy ended up coming fifth. Once I bumped into Liam on the airport, he had that mischievous glint in his eye as he stated “Your recommendation clearly labored, O’Kearney.” I got here clear and admitted that no such recommendation was ever given.
“I see. However you loved your breakfast with Teddy, O’Kearney?”
“In fact, Liam. It cheered me proper up.”
“Good. That was the entire level, O’Kearney.”
Liam, for all his accomplishments, was a person who was simple to underestimate, as a participant (this “novice” ranked quantity 9 on the all time Eire cash record on the time of his dying), as a match organizer (he took over the working of the Irish Open after his previous boss Terry Rogers died, and oversaw its progress from its Eccentrics Membership origins to Europe’s largest match), and as a person. As information of his dying filtered out, tributes poured in on the social media, not simply from Eire however from overseas. None of those had been extra excellent than Jamie Burland’s tweet: “RIP the Gentleman Liam Flood. Video games simply received a bit harder and way more organized in Heaven.”