At least you’re not dead

November 01, 2013

This is embarrassing, but it must be said.

When I arrived on the Isle of Man Wednesday night, I was exhausted. I’d been on three planes, endured a six-hour layover, and ridden in two taxis. I’d not slept in a bed for a couple of days. But I had to get my PSLive registration card if I wanted to go to the casino to work. This is where I first made an ass of myself.

I stood in line with PokerStars’ frontman Lee Jones and waited for my turn. Jones turned to the man behind me and asked me if I knew who he was. Knowing I should recognize the guy but didn’t, I apologized and said, “No.”

It was Conor Cummins, a motorcycle racer and legend here on the Isle of Man. Jones had been giving Cummins poker lessons, and the racer was about to play a big tournament here.

For those who don’t know, this island is home to the TT, one of the most famous races in the world. It’s dangerous in a way I can’t begin to describe. I knew a bit about it, but the most lasting memory was a video my colleague Rick Dacey showed me a few months ago of a TT racer going terribly out of control and flopping like a rag doll through a field. It was terrifying. I couldn’t believe anyone would risk such grave injury and sure death. This guy in front of me was one of those kinds of guys.

So, I looked up at Cummins and said the first thing that came to my tired mind: “Well, at least you’re not dead.”

Cummins looked at me sort of funny, and I’m not sure, but I might have heard Lee Jones gasp. Whatever I’d said had fallen as flat as a rag doll in a field.

Knowing I was in no shape to try to recover, I wished Cummins luck in the Main Event this week and moved on.

UKIPT_IOM_Velli-86_Conor Cummins.jpg

Conor Cummins playing at the UKIPT Isle of Man event

So, if you will, fast forward to last night. I was having a late dinner with Dacey when the Main Event had finished for the day. I turned to him and said I’d met Conor Cummins, but that my joke about not dying didn’t make the man smile.

Dacey looked at me sideways. “Um, I showed you that video…” he said.

And then, like waking up from a too-long night in the pub, it dawned on me…that video…the one Dacey had shown me so many months ago of a man nearly dying…yes, that was Conor Cummins, a man who will almost certainly endure some form of PTSD for the rest of his life, and a man who I’d cheekily congratulated for not being dead.

You can watch it for yourself here.

Friends, if you need lessons on how to ingratiate yourself with the locals, I suggest you look elsewhere, because my social wipeouts are the kind of things that would make YouTube viewers cringe.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging


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