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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Tiger's collapse proves costly for Paddy Power

20 Aug 2009

By Gary Trask
The frustration on the face of Tiger Woods during his shocking defeat in the PGA Championship Sunday afternoon was nothing compared to the exasperation oozing out of Paddy Power.

In fact, Mr. Paddy Power, the director of communications for the Irish bookmaking operation that bears his name, was so disturbed by what was happening at Hazeltine National Golf Club during the final round that he watched the action from his toilet.

"I had to," Mr. Power giggled as he spoke to Casino City on Thursday. "I was as sick as a parrot."

And with good reason. Woods' epic loss to South Korean unknown and eventual winner Y.E. Yang cost the Irish bookie £1.25 million after Mr. Power made the bold – but in retrospect costly – decision on Friday evening to pay off all of his clients that wagered on Tiger to win the event after he took what appeared to be a commanding four-stroke lead with two rounds to go.

Instead of closing out the victory – something he had done in a major championship the previous 14 times he held the 36-hole lead – Woods, who was a 1-to-5 favorite to win heading into Sunday's final round, coughed up the lead and watched Yang stun the golf world.

"Hey, 1-for-15 isn't too bad," Mr. Power said with another laugh. "Unfortunately for us, the one time he doesn't close the deal, we end up with an ostrich-size egg all over our face."

It wasn't the first time that Paddy Power has paid off its clients before an event came to an official end – and Mr. Power vowed it wouldn't be the last. From time to time, Paddy Power likes to take a chance and pay off bets prematurely. It did so with Barack Obama backers before the primary and general elections – both of which were won by Obama, of course.

"It's something we like to do from time to time to prove to our punters that we're willing to take a chance too," he explained. "Our bettors take a chance every day when they place a bet. We like to show that we're not afraid to gamble either. And we're usually right more often than we're wrong."

But the 34-year-old did admit that this time the gamble cost the company more than ever before, "by a mile." And it could have been a lot worse. Because of where it is stationed, Paddy Power typically receives a large number of bets on Irish golfer Padraig Harrington in major events. Harrington began Sunday two strokes off the lead and if he had prevailed, the total loss for Paddy Power would have been closer to £5 million.

"That was the only saving grace," Power said. "But this still ranks as one of the more idiotic things we've ever done. It takes a special kind of dimwit to turn what should have been a great day for us into one of the worst."

Asked if he would make the same decision if given the chance with Woods in the future, Power wouldn't rule it out.

"Chances are that if Tiger is in that position again, he's going to win," Power said. "Would we be stupid enough to do it again? Probably. Watch this space. It could happen."

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