Earlier this week, the poker world was struck by the deaths of two of its more colorful personalities. On August 16, “Gentleman” Liam Flood passed away at the age of 71 and, on August 18, Tony Korfman passed away at the same age after complications from hip surgery.
Flood was arguably one of the most powerful forces in Ireland for the development of poker. Beginning his tournament poker career in the 1980s, Flood would become one of the most prominent Irish players in history, ranking ninth on Ireland’s all-time money earnings list with his $1.14 million in career earnings. Flood was a two-time champion of the Irish Poker Open (1990 and 1996), but it was his efforts away from the felt that might have cemented his place in history.
The Irish Poker Open, the creation of fellow Irishman and close friend Terry Rogers, is the longest running poker tournament, bested only by the World Series of Poker. After Rogers passed away in 1999, Flood stepped up to take over the role as tournament organizer and director. Since taking over those roles, Flood oversaw the Irish Poker Open through a period of prosperity that other events would envy.
The European poker community, recognizing Flood’s contributions to the game of poker, were especially vocal in their remembrances of the Irish legend. “Liam Flood, a hero of the old Late Night Poker days, died at 71,” Tweeted two-time European Poker Tour champion Vicky Coren-Mitchell upon hearing the news. “May his twinkling, sporting spirit live on in the game.” Liv Boeree commented, “(Flood) was a pillar of the Irish poker community and a true gentleman. Rest in Peace.” Other players and poker commentators such as James Hartigan, Emmet Kennedy, Barry Carter, Roberto Romanello, Nicolas Levi, Kara Scott and Jude Ainsworth also Tweeted their respects to Flood.
Korfman might not have had a sterling poker career (career earnings of slightly more than $355,000, with most of that coming from his runner-up finish in the 2007 World Series of Poker Seniors’ Event), but it was his personality and work ethic that made him a beloved figure on the Nevada poker scene. Away from the tables, Korfman was a strong figure in the gaming industry, working as General Manager of casinos that included the Gold Strike and the Edgewater in Boulder City, NV.
Korfman was also a prolific author of gaming strategy guides. Covering such subjects as keno, roulette, craps and poker, Korfman was able to demonstrate his knowledge of pretty much anything that was spread in a casino. It was his last book, “Texas Hold’em: Tournaments, Cash Games and Embarrassing Social Gas” (published in 2007), that truly displayed his sarcastic, comedic side and endeared him to many in the gaming community.
It was that personality that drew people to him. WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla noted to Chad Holloway of PokerNews.com, “”On poker’s food chain, Tony Korfman was an alligator, with a mouth to match. He was arguably the most hysterical, shocking, vulgar, bombastic reptile of a man I’ve ever met inside a poker room. Once, he threatened to punch me out because of something I wrote which he didn’t like. So, at least I know it was probably accurate.”
“Later I got to know him better and reminded him of our prior altercation,” Dalla continued. “He didn’t remember. ‘You think I can recall every time I get into a fight with someone? Hell, it’s easier to remember the few quiet nights when nothing happened,’ he said. Love him or loath him, Tony was what we in poker used to call… a character. You couldn’t make up some of the sidesplitting stuff that happened and things he said over the years. He’s irreplaceable as a poker personality.”
Dalla wasn’t the only one in the poker community to comment on Korfman’s passing. “I was just informed Tony Korfman died,” Pamela Brunson wrote on Facebook. “I am so sad. Loved his great sense of humor, sarcasm and kind soul.” 2013 WSOP Championship Event runner-up Jay Farber commented, “RIP Tony Korfman…you were a cantankerous old man and a funny sonofabitch at the same time. Pleasure to have gotten to play cards with you and get to know you.”
Poker News Daily would like to express our condolences to both the families of Liam Flood and Tony Korfman. The poker world is a bit darker today with their departure from the felt.