I was introduced to Liam Flood at the WSOP in the eighties by Terry Rogers, the legendary bookmaker from Ireland. I thought he was the CEO of some big corporation or a movie star. Liam was very tall and looked like a cross between Rock Hudson and Pierce Brosnan. While other players wore t-shirts and sweats, Liam came to the poker room wearing a suit. Liam dressed better than anyone; even Crandell Addington remarked how well Liam dressed for a poker tournament.
We spent a great deal of time at the tables and became good friends. Liam was very down-to-earth and had many Irish poker stories to tell. He constantly joked about people and kept you smiling.
In the early eighties I thought I could party with the best of them, but I was no match for Liam. On tournament nights I wanted to be in bed by midnight. I would say good night to Liam and tell him I would see him around noon at tournament time.
Around 10 a.m. I would get a call from Liam to have breakfast. I would ask him how his night was, and he would say, “I have not been to bed yet. I just took a shower.”
This was his routine: He would play all night, shower, change suits and play the tournament. I thought someday he would have to sleep. Liam always had a story about what happened last night.
Terry Rogers was the opposite. He was strictly business. I remember Jack Straus hosted an invitational poker series at the Frontier around 1984. My first opponent for the heads-up tournament was a guy from Texas called Timmy.
He showed up with a big bag of money and wanted to place a bet on himself against me for around $20,000. Terry took the bet, and I busted Timmy the Texan on the second hand. Terry said, “That is the fastest $20,000 I ever made.”
After that, Terry invited me and my wife to Ireland as his guest. Liam said he would love to show me his homeland while I was there. So that summer I went to play poker in Ireland as their guest. It was a trip I will never forget.
What a beautiful country! The first thing that struck me was how much greener it looked than in pictures. Ireland was so green it almost hurt your eyes. Both Terry and Liam loved playing poker and booking horses, so that’s how we spent most of our time.
Terry and Liam would alternate nights showing me around Ireland. Terry would take me and my wife to the theater and talk about politics and the future of poker in Ireland while Liam would entertain us with long dinners, laughter, drinks and gambling stories.
One day Liam wanted to take us to the countryside and show us an Irish spring and waterfall. I dressed in a jacket and sneakers and off we went. In this picturesque setting was Liam dressed in a suit with new shoes and a pocket handkerchief. I thought this man does not own a casual wardrobe, but that was Liam.
On his nights Terry Rogers would take us to a fine restaurant. On Liam’s night, he would take us to his mother’s for a home-cooked meal. It was almost like a competition to see who could impress us the most.
Liam had a friend or relative who trained the Irish national champion, and he took me and my wife to a farm to watch the horse train. It looked like a scene out of a movie. It was a misty Sunday morning, and we were treated like royalty.
Everything was first class. Liam had set up a table with a white tablecloth on the bright green grass. On it was a bucket with champagne and strawberries. It was classic Liam. He wanted this to be a trip of a lifetime, and it was. It is a memory I will cherish forever.
Liam passed away this past week. I lost a dear friend who really loved poker, gambling and life. I recently married a girl named Patty who was born on St. Patrick’s Day, so I owe it to her to visit Ireland. It has always been a dream of hers. What is there not to love about a country of four-hour dinners followed with three hours of laughing and drinking dark beer in the pubs?
I imagine Liam and Terry are up there right now continuing their debates. Liam is beating Terry at the table, and Terry will get his money back betting on how fast angels can fly.
I miss my two friends, but I pray one day we will all play again in the big poker game in the sky.
Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino marketing expert. Robert is most well- known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.
He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development and has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working with his new companies Crown Digital Games developing mobile apps and Vision Poker, a poker marketing group.
Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for consulting and teaching.