The 100th episode of the hugely popular The Chip Race podcast is due to drop next week on Monday, April 19, 2021.
To celebrate, we catch up with Unibet Ambassador and The Chip Race co-founder David Lappin to reminisce on what brought the podcast into triple figures, if he and co-founder Dara O’Kearney are sick of each other by now, and what listeners can expect from the celebrations that are being laid on for the 100th episode.
Everyone loves an origin story these days, so how did The Chip Race come about and did you ever expect it to last 100 episodes?
The Chip Race sort of has two origin stories.
In Spring 2015, Dara and I were approached by a company in Dublin that made sports podcasts. They wanted to make an Irish-facing poker show. They had a nice studio, a great editor and a marketing team. It was a very professional set-up so we thought we were in good hands. Their idea was to make seven shows in seven weeks and use them to get sponsorship for future shows. In that sense, it was a gamble by Dara and I. We were gambling our time to get it off the ground.
Back then, Daragh Davey was our newsman and he would join us in the studio each Monday when we would record each of the segments all in one afternoon. Despite growing an audience quickly, we failed to get sponsorship and ultimately the company went bust.
Eighteen months later, Dara and I were approached by David Pomroy at Unibet Poker with a view to becoming ambassadors for the brand. Content creation was at the forefront of their minds and we pitched the idea of bringing back The Chip Race as a world-facing show. When we signed with Unibet in February 2017, we immediately got to work on a second season of seven.
There were some teething pains in production and some sound issues with our mobile and home studio set-ups but by the end of that batch of shows we were getting our stride. By the third Season that Summer, we got our stride and the show both grew in quality and popularity from that point onward.
While neither of us expected to get to 100 episodes, we did feel like we were onto something and winning the GPI Global poker award for our work in 2018 was very heartening. The audience numbers have continued to grow with our most recent episodes among our biggest ever with an average of ~18,000 listeners.
Are you and Dara sick of each other yet? What motivates you to keep at it?
Dara might have a different answer but I’d say definitely not. We were friends first and the show is an extension of that in many ways. We rarely disagree, let alone argue. I think the key is mutual respect of what the other brings to the table. Dara has his strengths and I have mine. In combination, I think we have a formula that works.
I think the main motivation is still having something to say. In many ways The Chip Race is a vehicle for us to express ourselves. We try to make the guests the stars of each episode but in the end of the day, we choose the guests, we choose the questions, we choose the strategy. Our decisions and our perspectives are very much in evidence even if that’s not overt when listening.
Who was your favorite guest? Who was your least favorite guest? Yes we are going there.
I find it very tough to pick out one because for me, the show is about variety and balance. We want all demographics in poker represented and for the body of work to be about poker players as the ‘chip race’ (see what I did there). Guests who really brought it though include Jason Koon, Apestyles, Jennifer Tilly, Olivier Busquet, Ana Marquez, Luciana Manolea, Dan Smith, Ike Haxton, Maria Konnikova, Jungleman, Mike Sexton, Vanessa Kade, Daniel Dvoress and of course Mrs. Doke.
At the risk of opening old wounds, we have one former guest who spent months sending emails to our colleagues at Unibet trying to get us fired because he got his feelings hurt by something one of our guests said. It was pretty pathetic. His interview with us was a shill-fest for his training products so if we could take an interview back it would definitely be that one.
If I were only to ever listen to one edition of The Chip Race, which one would you recommend?
The 100th episode is right up there with our best episodes ever. It stars Doug Polk and Annette O’Carroll with strategy from Apestyles and a fun segment at the top where we take questions from over a dozen other poker podcasters.
How do you plan to celebrate your 100th episode?
We’ve got a special Chip Race 100th Show celebration tournament on Unibet Poker on Sunday April 25th. It’s going to be a 2-day €100 PKO in the Supernova time-slot with Dara, Ian and myself plus some former guests of the show being shooting stars with extra bounties on us. There will be seat-added satellites the week before and everyone who cashes the event will win a copy of ‘PKO Poker Strategy’.
What does the future of the chip race hold?
We have been commissioned by Unibet to make up to our 116th show so we’re not going anywhere in the near future. We also really enjoy making our new show ‘The Lock-In’ which goes out first on our YouTube channel. We will certainly be making more strategy videos too.
The feedback from them is great. We are working on a book that would compliment the strategy videos. That might be out in 2022.