Obituary: Liam Flood, poker player and tournament organiser
Dara O'Kearney recalls the poker player and tournament organiser who oversaw growth of the Irish Open
Liam Flood's wikipedia page describes him as a bookmaker and professional poker player, but for as long as I knew Liam he was adamant that he was not a poker professional. He took the game up relatively late, enjoyed it, and achieved more than many self-proclaimed professionals, but always saw it as a hobby.
He was closing in on his 50s when he won the Irish Open for the first time in 1990, and had passed into them when he became one of only a handful of players to win it for a second time in 1996. A unique third victory eluded him, but he never stopped trying, and on his last outing last year he cashed and got within spitting distance of the final table.
By the time TV poker got going in this part of the world, Liam already looked like a grandad, even if he played more like a fearless internet kid.
He figured out the optimal strategy for the fast TV tournaments, and was arguably the most successful player ever in them. In 1997 he won the European championship in London, defeating Devilfish heads-up. The following year saw him finish second in Paris in the Euro Final of poker.
In 1999, he won the very first episode of Late Night Poker, and the following year also made the final table.
Over the course of the next 10 years, he regularly made the final table of big TV tournaments (his record in heats was phenomenal, as he won more than he lost), culminating with a win in 2006 in the European Open (winning his heat, his semi and then the final).
The following year, he finished fourth in the biggest TV tournament of them all, the Poker Million, having won his heat and safely navigated through the semi-final. He final-tabled the Million again the next year, and this time chopped it four ways with three other Irishmen (Marty Smyth, Eoghan O'Dea and Ciaran O'Leary).
All these results added up to a career that sees him currently ranked number nine on the All-Time Irish money list with lifetime winnings well in excess of $1m. Not bad for a self-professed amateur.
Liam's other great contribution to poker in Europe was as a tournament organiser.
As both a bookmaker and a poker player, Liam started out as sidekick to the legendary Terry Rogers (generally credited as being the man who brought tournament poker to Europe).
Liam took over the running of the Irish Open after Terry died and oversaw its growth from its humble origins of three or four tables in the Eccentrics Club to Europe's largest and most prestigious poker tournament.
As news of his death last weekend spread, tributes poured in not just from Ireland but also from abroad, none more apposite than top English player Jamie Burland's "RIP the Gentleman Liam Flood. Games just got a little tougher and far more organised in Heaven".