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Tuesday 16 October 2018

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
Liam Flood

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 

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 

Sunday Independent

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