RIP Mad Marty. The word legend is often thrown around without much care, but sometimes a true legend comes into the picture that is hard to ignore. The poker world has always been a weird and wild bunch, but when someone like Mad Marty Wilson arrives on the scene, he really kicks everything up a notch. Some people just have a certain vibe or energy that is both endearing and electric. Mad Marty Wilson is one of those rare players that made every single day interesting as heck.
Over the weekend, Padraig Parkinson dropped the sad news on Twitter when he informed the poker community that they lost a legend.
"Sad, sad day," tweeted Padraig. "Poker lost one of its greatest characters 'Mad' Marty Wilson last nite. The lovely Katherine was at his side. To say he was one of a kind is a huge understatement. I miss him already"
Mad Marty was born Martin Wilson in Wolverhampton in the Midlands. Wilson was known more for his storytelling ability than his poker skills. A quick scan of Hendon Mob will show that he's won approximately $450K USD in tournament earnings. But that's beside the point. Mad Marty lit up every single poker room he entered. Didn't matter if he was slamming beers at the pub or the local bar inside the casino, he would always have a group of people around him listening to his stories and jokes.
Some people are naturally gifted storytellers. The old-school reference is raconteur. Very few people can achieved epic raconteur status and Mad Marty is up there.
There's a lot of monotony and sameness of everyday life. I dunno about you, but I dove head first into the poker world because of its abnormal aspects and characters. Mad Marty Wilson is the kind of guy you expected you would meet up with at the tables in Las Vegas or in London. One minute you're check-raising him all in and the next, you're downing pints together and swapping stories about hooligans.
As the legend goes, Mad Marty got his "Mad" nickname because he jumped into a polar bear pit to escape a beating from rival football fans. "Mad" in this sense is the British slang for "crazy". If he were a Yank, it would be Crazy Marty Wilson. But it doesn't have the same ring to it, eh?
Marty first made waves when he played Late Night Poker on Channel 4 in the UK. British poker historians attribute some of their poker boom to the rise and popularity of televised poker. Mad Marty's personality is a huge part of that. Phil Hellmuth won that season but Mad Marty was a fixture at the tables. The producers knew a gem when they saw it. Mad Marty just sitting down at the table made for great TV.
In the modern era, kids in hoodies tank for 30 seconds on every street and act more like silent robots than counter-culture heroes. Mad Marty Wilson was the exact opposite of that. For sure, he poker skills were nowhere close to optimal or GTO in the parlance of today's wunderkinds. But he represented an era of poker that we might never see again.
Even though Mad Marty didn't wear a cowboy hat, he was a true outlaw. Even though he didn't have a shaved head and gobbed on everyone, Mad Marty was as punk rock as they came. Mad Marty is more akin to Joe Strummer from The Clash or Johnny Rotten the Sex Pistols than he is to someone like Steve Chidwick or Phil Galfond.
On Twitter, Vicky Coren tweeted, "That sparkling firework of the British poker scene Mad Marty Wilson passed away last night. He was one of the most memorable, twinkly, mischievous, life-enhancing characters you could ever meet, who brought so much laughter and fun and will be remembered with so much love. RIP."