#258: “The Itchy & Scratchy Show”

Posted AmbassadorThoughtsUnibet

It’s been a while since I last blogged regularly but this is my second in quick succession so hopefully that’s about to change. I guess, over the past year, ‘The Chip Race’ podcast has been scratching the same itch as blogging. Probably scratching it harder, in fact.

Most of you probably know this but I used to be a writer. I wrote essays, short stories and short films. I even wrote a 300 page book on hermeneutic philosophy. In 2006, I was hired to write a TV show of my own creation that ultimately never made it to air. I co-wrote another TV show which never got picked up. I also wrote a feature film that I didn’t even try to get made. I am certain I would be screenwriter now (very possibly living under a bridge) had I not discovered the poisoned chalice that is poker.

Blogging became my way to appease the writer within. I’d write a funny trip-report, I’d discuss an interesting hand, I’d pen an opinion piece on something going on in the industry, I’d try to find a connection betwen something in the real world and something quintessentially poker. When I felt like being a wanker, I’d write a story about losing my passport and make it a structural homage to Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. And then there were the times when only nut-cuntishness would suffice and I’d author a pretentious poker fragment in the style of Beckett.

The truth is I just love writing. I love words. I love to put words in a particular order. I love structure and subverting structure. I love the craft of writing. I love writing sentences in staccato quintuplets where the last one is different, and longer, and breaks the fourth wall, letting you know that I know that you know that I know what I’m doing, while simultaneously making it clear that I am a bell-end, but also that you know that I know I am. Honestly, I’d write if I was the only person who would ever read it, but at the same time, I want people to read what I write, to understand my ideas, to be grateful that I shared. I want an audience. 

‘The Chip Race’ just had its third birthday and its first anniversary since being resurrected by Unibet Poker and I can honestly say I am gobsmacked by both the public response to the show and the calibre of guests who have been kind enough to make appearances. I never would have dreamed that, one year on, we would already have shared the booth with such poker luminaries as Phil Hellmuth, Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Jake Cody, Kara Scott, Charlie Carrel, William Kassouf, Niall Farrell, Jared Tendler, Andrew Neeme, Barney Boatman, Griffin Benger, Sam Razavi, Zachary Elwood, George Danzer, Tommy Angelo, Kenny Hallaert, Mike Leah and Parket Talbot, to name but a few!

Season 1 of the podcast was Ireland-facing and as such, I thought we all did a fine job, highlighting the best of the domestic scene with the occasional dalliance into poker in the UK and US. Dara and I were far from newbs but compared to now, it feels like we were flying by the seat of our pants – some haphazard preparation on the walk up to the studio, hastily written scripts and last minute phone calls to cajole guests to appear. 

These days, we have the luxury of time – time to prepare interview questions, time to do multiple takes if necessary, time to edit pieces until we are happy with them, time to plan the marketing of the show. For this I am very grateful to Unibet Poker and their team – Simon Steedman, Robin van den Heuvel and especially David Pomroy, who put his faith in Dara and I, provided us with the support we need and trusted our creative vision for a magazine style show in five segments that breaks the mould of poker podcasts, and is, in a way, a return to a sort of radio hour format.

I am particularly grateful to the show’s inner circle – Willy Eliot who is always on hand to create a brilliant poster, graphic or thumbnail, Tom Stanton who never misses a cut and has to remove literally 70 ‘ye knows’ from my audio file each week, Daiva who is particularly good at outplaying me in hands and then articulating how I got outplayed in her regular contributions to our strategy segments, and Ian who forgoes his monday nap to record the news piece. I also want to pay tribute to the people who worked on the show in the past – our former newsman Daragh Davey, our former editors Colly O’Neill and Rob King, Rob O’Connor for his media support back in Season 1, Heatly Tector for helping to launch the show and the 23 Digital Team of Marc Convey, James Beer and jason Riahi who helped get the show back on the air in 2017.

Finally, it is a pleasure working so closely with Dara – a man who reinvigorated my love for the game seven years ago and whose own love for the game seems limitless. I hope we’ll both be scratching away for years to come.


‘The Chip Race’ is just about to come back after its mid-season hiatus and, in the coming episodes, Dara and I will be welcoming to the show Maria Konnikova, Sameer Singh, Jack Sinclair, Marc MacDonnell, Ari Engel, Ken Doherty, Jonathon little and word has it that Phil Hellmuth might pop back to look at a famous hand he played versus Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates. To ensure that you don’t miss the latest episodes of ‘The Chip Race’, go to Soundcloud or iTunes