Terry "Red Menace" Rogers was the Irish bookmaker and card player accredited with starting the Irish Open and spreading No Limit Tesxas Hold'em to Europe.
Terry Rogers laying the odds
Terry Roger's had long been used to running poker tournaments before he launched the Irish Open. During the late 1970's he often set up stud tournaments which included "up to 200-300 players each paying aroun £100 to £200. That was a lot of money back in those days" recalls Liam Flood. But after Terry's trip to Las Vegas, 1980 was the year that the Irish Open started proper and the first champion of this No Limit Texas Hold'em tournament was made - her name was Colette Doherty.
From that year on the Irish Open has gone from strength to strength thanks to the great organisation of the event, good support, and Terry's unique promotional skills. Former Irish Olympic Swimmer and WSOP Bracelet winner Donnacha O'Dea remembers some of the tricks used to pull to attract players to the event, "He'd publicise betting on the tournament in the Racing Post along with an event such as the Super Bowl so he could get around the law on advertising such events. He'd install an outsider such as 'Suitcase' Johnny as favourite. Poker players would then see these odds and think to themselves, 'Well I'm much better than this guy who's favourite' and immediately want to take part in the tournament."
Terry presenting Liam the 2nd place trophy in 1984
Also Terry's firm relationship with our American cousins helped make the event even more popular "Guys like Benny Binion, Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese really held Terry in high esteem," states Donnacha. The firm frendship behind Terry and the Americans culminated in them flying over and playing in the tournament many times. Even Mr T made it one year!!
"Those years he had Tom McEvoy, Jack Keller, Stu Ungar, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, and Perry Green from Alaska. It was funny to see them try to pay for goods in Killiney village with chips from Terry's poker tournament, something they were used to doing in Vegas."
One magazine report of the 1983 event described how Stu Ungar "stalked from the room, his whole body rigid with fury" after being knocked out of the main event early. His fellow players gently mocked him as he skulked away.
Later in the evening the reporter spotted Ungar and Puggy Pearson (1973 World Series main event winner) throwing $50 chips on the floor of the hotel, betting on whose would get nearer a crack in the carpet!
After Terry's death in 1999 the tournament, originally held in Dublin's Eccentric Club, was hosted by Liam Flood and the Merrion Casino. By 2006 the event, with 339 players, had outgrown the Merrion Casino and was held in Jurys Ballsbridge Hotel in 2006 and the Burlington Hotel in 2007 where 708 players vied for the prize. Since 2004 the event has been sponsored by Paddy Power Poker who are keen to make the event bigger and better, but in keeping with it's history. Liam Flood is still the tournament director. In 2009, The Paddy Power Irish Open will break all records!
Check out the Qualifying Schedule for 2010 now.
All images are used courtesy of www.paddypowerpoker.com.