EPT10 Prague: Peter Barrable putting perspective back into poker
When Peter Barrable hit the rail in the later stages of Day 2 at EPT Prague, he will not have been immune to the usual disappointment that preys on the poker player falling short of the money. But the chances are, Barrable, with a keen sense of perspective, will have shaken off the setback more quickly than most.
When he is not playing poker, Barrable is a rally driver, where hitting the rail can have much more significant implications. In March last year, the 30-year-old suffered a terrible accident during the West Cork rally, which left him with memory loss, hospitalised, and under close medical observation. It also thwarted driving ambitions for at least a year.
"In poker, you make a mistake, you walk out the door," Barrable said yesterday, during the first break in play. "In rallying, you're off to hospital. It's the one thing they have that's similar: if you make a mistake, it's over."
After suffering damage to his brain, Barrable was told not to race for at least the remainder of the season. Although lucky not to be more seriously injured, it was a massive blow to a man whose life has been dominated by motor sports from a young age.
Barrable's father and uncles have always been involved in rallying and his younger brother, Robert, now competes in WRC2, the second tier of the World Rally Championships, in which drivers hope to be noticed as the next Sebastien Loeb or Colin McRae and plucked for stardom.
Robert drives for the Tunnocks World Rally team and Peter has spent the past year travelling the circuit as an assistant, driving the course with him in the mornings of races, helping to produce race logs and providing support. It is an enormous commitment for very little remuneration.
"You wouldn't believe some of the expense that goes into it," Barrable said. "A lot of it is man-hours and time, effort put into it. You have seven or eight people in the team and they can be gone for like three weeks...There's no official prize money as such if you win anything, but the aim for everybody is to get a paid drive by a manufacturer."
Although Barrable also works for the family-owned car dealership, close to the airport in his native Dublin, he has also made something of a name for himself in the poker world, particularly on the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT).
During season two, he came 14th and 13th in Manchester and Galway, both following his best result to date: fourth in Killarney for €17,700. That put him at the top of the UKIPT leader board for a short period.
"I didn't really decide to take it up seriously," he said. "Rallying was where I really wanted to be and things were going fine. I'd didn't need to turn to poker...This year I knew I wasn't going back rallying so I decided to concentrate on the poker a bit more."
The trip to Prague was his first ever foray on the European Poker Tour, although he has also played the World Series Main Event and the Irish Open several times. While he continues to recuperate, he is happy to have joined another travelling circus.
"When you come to a poker event you see the same 20 faces in the bar," Barrable said. "It's the same with the rallying. In the bar, there's the same 20 faces. Rallying has a lot more of a buzz around it. Nobody's only there trying to win money. You're there for a good atmosphere and a good time."
Barrable began day two with a short stack, but ran it up to about 70,000 by the mid-point of the day. But then, as can happen, the wheels came off and he didn't make it to day three. But for someone well accustomed to the highs and lows of a high-octane sporting environment, one suspects we'll see him back on the EPT -- although we may have to wait a few years.
"The World Rally Championship looks like it'll be on again next year for my brother and I'll be out there," he said. "It's really enjoyable. But that might be the last year of it, who knows, but poker will be here in two or three years. So I don't mind poker taking a back seat."
For coverage of Day 3 of the EPT10 Prague Main Event, head to the EPT Prague Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts in the top panel, plus feature pieces below the line. All the information about event can be found on the main European Poker Tour website.