WSOP.com, Nevada’s second real-money online poker site to launch this year, is just over two months old. Competitor Ultimate Poker got a five-month head start by getting cards in the air, so to speak, back in April. Its launch was a bit subdued and relied on in-house advertising resources. WSOP.com, owned byCaesars Interactive Entertainment, is taking a more explosive approach in trying to sign up new players and take control of the online poker market. If you have a Total Rewards account, step foot in a Caesars hotel room, or even watch TV in the state of Nevada, Caesars is going to let you know about WSOP.com.
Online, Caesars is promoting WSOP.com through many of its own websites. WSOP.com staff are reaching out to gamblers elsewhere on the web and regularly post on poker message boards. Additionally, WSOP.com targets existing Total Rewards members with a rewards system that connects to their accounts. Although the levels don’t match up exactly, it is possible to advance your casino status through online play and vice versa. Credits earned online can also be converted to credits for use at Caesars properties.
Caesars hotels are pushing guests towards the new gaming site through the use of branded hotel items. Key cards and water bottles with new WSOP.com logos and slogans are provided to guests at check in. Inside our room during a recent stay at Harrah’s, we found that the ‘do not disturb’ sign had been replaced with a WSOP-branded version.
It’s the recent blitz of TV and radio advertisements, however, that has garnered the most attention. The campaign has been limited to areas where the site can legally operate so, if you’re outside of Nevada or New Jersey, you’re safe. The TV ads, which first premiered in Nevada during the season finale of Breaking Bad, seem to run continuously. Nevada residents can’t escape them and, if you turn on the TV in your Vegas hotel room, you will likely find Scotty Nguyen going all-in.
Humberto Brenes es uno de los jugadores de poker más reconocidos en América Latina. A mi entender, tiene todos los méritos para ingresar al Salón de la Fama de la Serie Mundial de Poker y por ello, ha lanzado su campaña a través de redes sociales #votetiburon
El costarricense busca convertirse en el primer jugador no estadounidense en ser elegido al prestigioso grupo de apenas 44 integrantes. EL tico subió hasta el tercer lugar del ranking de jugadores que más gananias (cobros) ha tenido en la historia. ¡Ya son 72! Además, tiene dos brazaletes de la Serie Mundial de Poker.
La idea de los hashtags #votetiburon y #voteshark es atraer a usuarios de redes sociales para que voten por él antes del 15 de agosto en el sitio oficial de la Serie Mundial. Aquí les comparto el link: http://www.wsop.com/phof/
Habrá incentivos para los aficionados que voten por él, entre los que destacan torneos gratis, artículos de PokerStars, y varios tiburones de plástico se rifarán en los próximos días.
“Seat open.” It’s a common poker expression Bob Hooks has heard and barked out countless times going back to his days as a Texas road gambler and then later as the poker room manager at Binion’s Horseshoe during the first World Series of Poker. The 84-year-old is no stranger to poker, even if the game has passed him by. But today is a new day. Today, Mr. Hooks is getting a new chair.
Whatever figurative sentiment might be read into that, the reality is that on this otherwise ordinary East Texas day, inside, in the Best Western hotel room that Mr. Hooks now calls home, a space has been cleared for the delivery of a brand new La-Z-Boy recliner. While the hotel’s manager and Hooks’ de facto caretaker, an eye-catching blonde named Kristi Michels, readies the room for the new piece of furniture, Mr. Hooks lingers in the hotel’s lobby with a cup of coffee in his hand, eyes firmly fixed to the East.
His sleepy gaze is the kind formed by years of staring down the white lines cutting through the surprisingly lush Texarkana plains. No matter which direction he turns, Mr. Hooks can recall a story, and more often than not it’s a decades-old poker tale long lost to history. To the East — which is today’s focus — is Shreveport where he tangled on countless occasions with T.J. Cloutier and Doc Ramsey; behind him to the West lie the bright lights of Las Vegas, a path previously pioneered by Benny Binion. If he were to look South, Hooks might recall the miles he racked up chauffeuring Johnny Moss to Waco; and to the North is where Hook’s own story began.
The Grand Old Man, Boss Gamblers & a Poker Education
Located 10.3 miles north of his hotel hospice, Edgewood, Texas, is Hooks’ true home. That’s where he was born on August 18, 1929, the first of Alex and Inez Hooks’ four children. His father, a well-respected baseball coach at Southern Methodist University (SMU), once played first base for the Philadelphia Athletics and also at one time held the state record for the shot put.
“Daddy would get the shot put and he would throw it all the way [along his walk] to school — about 2.5 miles — and all the way back,” Hooks recalls. “That’s how dedicated he was.”
Like many young boys in small towns, Hooks longed for adventure. In Edgewood, a dry county to this day, adventure came in the form of bootleg liquor and poker. When he was 16, Hooks learned about both and took advantage of the former to excel at the latter.
“I had no car, no bicycle, no shows, no TV, no nothing,” Hooks relates. “I’d see these guys going out in the woods to play cards. So to get away from home I’d go out and watch them play. This one guy would come and let me watch. That’s how I got started. Every one of them would get drunk but I never did. When the game was over, I’d have [all] the chips because they drank.”
One time, Hooks won $16 in the game. That might not seem like a lot, but in 1945, for a 16-year-old boy, it felt like life-changing money. With his father on the road, Hooks returned home to share his fortune with the family.
“I go home and there’sJerry, he’s my little brother, two years younger, and James, he’s 10 years younger,” Hooks says. “I come in and I’ve won $16. You’d have thought I won $16,000. I went into the living room and said, ‘Y’all come on in here to the bedroom.’ I threw that $16 on the bed and said you get what you want. James didn’t get nothing, you know, he was just six years old, but Jerry, who turned out to be the banker, got two or $3 of it. That $16, I thought that was all the money in the world.”
Six years later, Hooks’ younger sister Mary was born. By this time he had followed in his father’s footsteps and made his way to SMU on a football scholarship. During his time on the team, the SMU Mustangs upset the fifth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 27-20 in an October 13, 1951 game that was ranked as the 16th greatest moment in SMU Football History — an accomplishment Hooks recently relived when the Dallas Morning Newsran his team photo in their paper. Looking back, this is one of Hook’s proudest accomplishments.
It was also at SMU that Hooks met upperclassman Kenny Smith, who became a noted chess player and one of poker’s first true characters (every time he won a pot he’d doff a top hat he claimed was from the Ford Theater the day Lincoln was shot and proclaim, “Whatta Player.”). Together, the pair embarked on a lifelong friendship that included a fair amount of time spent at poker tables.
One memorable hand between them took place at the AmVets, a poker club Hooks opened in Dallas. According to the lore, Hooks limped into the pot only to have Smith put in a big raise. Hooks, who held pocket kings, then three-bet all in and Smith went into the tank for more than three minutes. When Hooks couldn’t take it any longer, he grabbed Smith’s cards, saw that he had two aces, and put Smith’s chips in himself.
“That’s a true story,” Hooks recalls with a laugh. “There wasn’t any more decisions and he was aggravating me. He’s got the nuts, the world knows it, and he was sticking it to me. [That was the way] we ribbed each other.”
After graduating from SMU, Hooks returned to Edgewood and began life as a family man and poker player, though he kept his occupation under wraps. “In a little town like that, ain’t nobody know I gambled when I was young,” Hooks says. “A poker player was like a bootlegger.”
Hooks married his wife, Cynthia Gready, in December 1952, and they had four children — Bobby, Larry, Catherine and Ronnie. In his early 20s, Hooks finally got a car to call his own, and he put it to good use, becoming a Texas road gambler. Over time he developed a reputation as a solid player, and before long some of the game’s best took notice, including Doc Ramsey.
“Boss gambler” refers to the head honcho of the poker scene in any particular area. These days it’d be players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, but back then players were notorious more than they were famous. In regards to Ramsey, boss gambler is a term Hooks uses with great respect.
“Hooks, how old are you?” Ramsey asked when the two first encountered one another in a game down in Tyler.
“Twenty nine,” a brash Hooks replied.
“Twenty nine,” the 65-year-old Ramsey repeated. “Wish I had your age.”
“Well,” Hooks retorted, “I wish I had your money.”
A lifelong friendship was born in that moment, one that even resulted in Ramsey staking Hooks in his early days. Ramsey passed long ago, but Hooks remembers his friend fondly: “Everywhere you went he was the top cream.”
Hooks would know too, because he really did go everywhere. He played in nearby Dallas and would then head down to Houston followed by a quick jaunt to Long View — which doesn’t even take into account his out-of-state excursions. The miles seemed endless, but that’s what was required to stay in action. “Nowadays in one block you can find that many games,” Hooks reflects.
Hooks also went to a game every Monday night in Waco. That’s where he first met Johnny Moss, a Poker Hall of Famer who won nine WSOP bracelets including three Main Event titles. Moss became known as the “Grand Old Man of Poker,” and it was a well-deserved nickname.
“He was my hero, the best player around,” Hooks says. “I listened to everything he said. He wasn’t welcome in some places because he was so good, but they couldn’t turn him away because everybody wanted to play with Johnny Moss.
“He took a liking to me. I’d take him every week to Waco. He would swap me 10 percent. As time drew on, he wanted to swap quarters. I was getting to where I was a little bit better of a player I guess. Soon, people were calling me Johnny Moss’ boy.”
After more than a decade traveling the Texas circuit, Hooks and a partner opened the renowned AmVets Post No. 4 at 308 ½ South Irving Street in Dallas in 1969. It was an illegal operation, but because they were chartered under the AmVets ruse, the game’s rake was justified — generally 5-10 percent of the pot — as necessary to cover club expenses. Hooks ran the club successfully for a year, but eventually sold to Byron “Cowboy” Wolford in order to head out West.
From the Texan Plains to the Nevada Desert
Legend has it that Poker Hall of Famer Felton “Corky” McCorquodale introduced the game of Texas hold’em to Sin City when he started a $10/$20 limit hold’em game at the Golden Nugget, but before he did, he and Hooks had become fast friends.
“Ask me a question on who the best player is and I’m going to say Corky. Uncle Corky, goddamn,” Hooks says of McCorquodale, who would only don suits from Neiman Marcus. “That’s a high-dollar suit down here,” Hooks clarifies.
Unfortunately his friendship with McCorquodale didn’t sit well with Moss. As Hooks tells it:
“I’m gonna tell you something ain’t nobody else know. They didn’t care for each other. You know what Moss and them used to do to him? Corky would get broke and they would stake him. They’d give him $5,000, go to the hotel game, and he would win. He’d win $6,000, give them $3,000, and keep $3,000. Now after two or three months, he’d have his bankroll built up to $40,000-$50,000. They didn’t cheat him, you know what they did? They’d buy him Old Forester. I know what kind of whiskey he drank, and [they’d get him] a bottle. Johnny would get him drunk and win all his money. That don’t make Johnny bad, but Corky was so helpless it wasn’t even funny. Corky, I love that man. He always said to me, ‘Hooks, let your word be your bond.’ Truer words were never spoken.”
Around that time news made its way back to Texas that the games in Vegas were too good to miss. Hooks wanted to go, but he couldn’t convince Moss to go with him.
“We ain’t going out there. It ain’t worth nothing out there,” Moss said flatly. Hooks abided Moss’ command for a month, but the lure of Glitter Gulch was strong; Hooks eventually went without his mentor. As it turned out, Moss was unwelcome in Vegas. Apparently, he had borrowed money from singer Tony Bennettand failed to pay it back. Bennett, as the story goes, had connections to the mob, so Moss’ failure to pay him did not result in a welcome mat being rolled out.
So how did Moss later make it to Vegas and establish himself in the poker pantheon? According to Hooks, it was all thanks to one man — Benny Binion.
“You didn’t want to fuck with the outfit — I call them the outfit or the Italians — unless you were Benny Binion. Anyway, Benny loaned them $2 million one time and he never had any problems with them after that. So Moss got Benny Binion to smooth it over. The reason he was able to do it was that one afternoon in come two ‘security guards’ from the Dunes. Jack Binion said they came down to get money. He said [the mobsters in charge of the Dunes] were broke. They had a junket that came in from New York. Binion said the dice had been hot for about two hours and the junket players won all of the Dunes’ money. Now they’ve got money in the bank, but the bank ain’t open. They called Benny to see if he had any money on hand, which he always did. Plenty of it I guess. I’ve been down in the room, a big old room with silver dollars, money stacked everywhere like hay. They walked out of there [with the $2 million], and from then on they [the Binions] never got any [trouble] from the outfit.”
Hooks continued to travel back and forth from Dallas to Vegas, and on one such junket Moss introduced him to Benny. The three met at the coffee shop at the Horseshoe, and Moss told Binion, “Y’all are hiring, here’s who you need to hire right here.”
Moss’ word carried a lot of weight with the patriarch, and the next day Hooks was offered a job. It wasn’t something Hooks asked for nor necessarily wanted. “Binion called me the next day and [offered me a job]. I had a family, farm, cows, and was hustling every which way to make a living, which was hard to do in those days,” Hooks says. “He called me, this was on Friday, and he said, ‘I’ll give you a call on Monday and you let me know.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, I haven’t even talked to my family yet.’ It was hard because all my family was there in Edgewood. I had four kids.”
Hooks continues: “I was playing at the Redmond Club there on South Irving in 1970 and the phone rang. He said, ‘Well, have you thought that over?’ I said, ‘No sir.’ He said, ‘Well think before we hang up.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take it.’ I didn’t know what I was making, didn’t know what I’d be doing. I knew I was going to be a boss, I knew that. I went out there within the next couple of days, moved in still not knowing what I’d be making.”
Before he left for Vegas, Hooks needed to tell his wife, kids, and kinfolk — all of whom had just moved into a new house. It wasn’t a negotiation, but a notice. With his family’s “permission” acquired, Hooks relocated to Vegas and immediately got to work on the graveyard shift.
“They wanted me to learn how to make the schedules, how to hire, and what they did when they caught them cheating. There was a lot of that going on in those days,” Hooks recalls. Indeed, cheating was so commonplace that even Hooks’ good friend Moss was involved.
“He had a girlfriend in Alabama,” Hooks says of the married Moss. “I’m not sure how to say this, but she’d help him get in cold decks. He wasn’t an angel. There weren’t many angels back in those days. She had tits this big. I’d never seen them that big in those days. She’d flop one of them out and all six of the players would be looking and bingo, you got aces.”
Even though cheating was rampant, Hooks was tasked with curbing it. “I’d go up there and they’d show me how they cheated. I wanted to know so I could protect players’ money.”
Learning the Vegas Ropes & the 1972 WSOP
In all his time working in Vegas, Hooks never saw a paycheck. He had free room and board, but all his wages were sent straight back to his family in Edgewood. On the other hand, as long as he had a poker bankroll, he could keep himself flush with spending money.
“One time I got broke playing a Las Vegas hero. I was just a country boy. He had 15 people around him, and it was just me and Jack [Binion]. Well, he broke me. I knew I could beat him. There weren’t a lot of people I knew I could beat, but he was one of them. I don’t have a big ego, but I knew I could beat him. My daddy had given us some stock, so I told Jack [Binion] I needed $3,000. I said, ‘I’ve got some stock I’ll let you have.’ Jack said, ‘No, you come on back to the table.’ He sent me $10,000. That was my first taste of big money. I asked for $3,000 and he gave me $10,000. He had a little confidence in me. Sure enough, I finally broke [the guy]. I never will forget that.”
Another thing Hooks got a taste of in Vegas was drugs. Of course it was commonplace back then, so much so that one of the world’s most infamous drug dealers, Jimmy Chagra, played in many of the high-stakes poker games.
“There was just so much money,” Hooks says of the drug culture. “Kids were getting like $10,000 for one kilo, 2.2 lbs. It was just everywhere. Girls had it, bosses had it, I can tell you people who had it, myself included. I sampled it. A lot of movie stars did it. Anybody who had money. You could go into a bathroom back then late at night, and someone would ask, ‘You don’t happen to have a bump do ya?’”
“I was playing dice one time out at the Sahara. There was this one lady at the craps table, bless her heart, she was about my age. I was about 50 then. We were going to shoot the dice. She was the only one at the table. She was shaking the dice, and bingo, out came out one of those little brown, amber looking vials that you put cocaine in. It just bounced right out on the table. The stickman kicked it right back to her and they kept on playing.”
Nowadays such a mishap might land a person in the slammer, but this was the early 1970s — which was also when Hooks left the Horseshoe to serve as an Executive Host at the Golden Nugget under Steve Wynn.
“One reason that Steve Wynn hired me, he wanted higher players,” Hooks says. “The Golden Nugget was way, way down there, and he was envious of the Horseshoe.”
Hooks had made dozens of connections in the poker world, so it wasn’t surprising to see some of the game’s biggest names, like Thomas “Amarillo Slim” Preston, visit him at the Nugget — always with a quid-pro-quo attitude of course, wanting a comped room or some other freebie.
“I said go on over to the Horseshoe, them your cowboy friends,” Hooks explains. “He said, ‘I’ve got a girl out there.’ I said, ‘Well, that don’t have nothing to do with me.’ I said to go on over to the Horseshoe to get a room. Well he did, and he came back with this long face. He said, ‘Bob, don’t tell nobody but that was a gay person. I went to kiss her and I found out she wasn’t a girl. Now don’t tell anybody.’ I said, ‘I’m not going to tell anybody until I get to somebody I know.’”
Hooks’ association with Amarillo Slim went deeper than a simple transvestite encounter. Hooks was there in 1972 when the fast-talking Texan “won” the WSOP. Eight players entered the Main Event that year, and a dilemma arose during three-handed play between Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, and Puggy Pearson.
“Didn’t anyone want the title of champion because there wasn’t any money for it,” Hooks explained. Indeed, being a professional poker player in those days was far from glamorous. Brunson didn’t want his name in the mainstream media, Pearson was indifferent, and Amarillo Slim, well he was a showman.
“Me and Jack got up in his office to decide who to give it to. He said, ‘Who do you think?’ I said, ‘Well, I know who wants it the worst, and that’s Amarillo Slim.’ We ended up giving it to Amarillo Slim. He wants to be it, he brags all the time anyway. He couldn’t wait to get it. He thought more of himself than the majority of people.”
With the decision made, Brunson was allowed to cash out due to “exhaustion,” and Pearson and Amarillo Slim put on a show before the latter “won” the title. It was a disreputable turn of events, but of course the WSOP wasn’t held to any sort of standard in those days. Besides, Amarillo Slim proved a wise choice as he cherished the attention and set about making the talk show rounds, which included numerous appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Without a doubt, he did more to promote and recast poker in a positive light than anyone who had come before him.
Hooks Misses Out on Poker Immortality
By 1975 the WSOP Main Event had grown to 21 players, but it was still played in a winner-take-all format. Hooks played that year, as did his roommate and fellow Texas road gambler Brian “Sailor” Roberts. The pair managed to make the final four alongside Crandall Addington and Aubrey Day, and it was at that point the idea of a deal was brought up.
“Aubrey said, ‘Let’s just all count down and keep all we’ve got.’ I said, ‘No, you’re going to have to play,’” Hooks explained. “Of course he got knocked out. Now Crandall, he’s got that new suit and Sailor’s got a hole in his shoes. I only had like 19,000 and I’m raising every pot. I’ve got two sixes, Addington bet, and I called him. The board came , and he’s got . Bingo, I hit three sixes and there he goes. Well, I broke him, and me and Sailor tried to chop it but Benny Binion stopped that because he thought it’d make [the tournament] less authentic.”
Unfortunately, neither Hooks, who had sold a quarter of his action to Jack Binion, nor Roberts wanted the title of World Champion. “You talk about tight, you can’t get any tighter than we were,” Hooks said. “Didn’t either one of us want to win it. He had his reasons, and the IRS was after me all the time.”
Unbeknownst to Binion, the two struck a secret deal to split the $210,000 prize and played it out. “We gave them a good show,” Hooks said. “The hand I got broke on*, it was a legitimate hand. The hand he beat me on was all legit. It looked so good. It turned out you couldn’t have put a cold deck in any better.”
*Hooks couldn’t recall the details of the final hand, and the only thing the record books show is that Hooks lost with the to Roberts’ .
Finishing runner-up in the WSOP Main Event would haunt some people, but that wasn’t the case with Hooks. For him it was all about the money, and he had struck a deal for his fair share.
“That’s what gets me more than anything. [Some people] would rather have a bracelet than a million dollars,” Hooks says when asked about missing out on the bracelet. “I can’t believe the egos of some people. All Sailor and I wanted was the money. Let us get out of here, you know what I mean. Good gosh, trophies and all that.”
Big Wins, Bookmaking & Befriending a Notorious Killer
While in Vegas, Hooks spent a year working at The Flamingo under Sam Boyd. One night, Hooks was at home (in an apartment owned by Boyd) after working a long shift and decided to head back to the poker room to check out the action. The high-stakes game had broken by that time, but Boyd lingered hoping to reclaim some of his losses.
“C’mon Hooks, you might as well get the rest of this,” he said. Hooks obeyed, taking a seat in the game, and promptly relieved his boss of his last $60,000 — his biggest-ever win. By comparison, Hooks’ biggest loss was for $76,000 at the craps tables — a thrashing he contributes to a combination of liquor and a two-timing woman.
Eventually being so far away from home and away from his family wore on Hooks. “I guess I was homesick,” he admits. “My family was back there and at the age where they needed their daddy there. They didn’t want to come out to Vegas. I should have made them come out I guess, but you can’t raise a family without being there with them. My daddy taught me that.”
With Benny Binion’s blessing, Hooks moved back to Dallas to open a bookmaking and craps operation, a business that proved extremely fruitful when Hooks applied the knowledge he’d gained in Vegas.
“Wasn’t no payoffs, but ain’t nobody get in our way,” Hooks says. “I made them shut the door down at 2 a.m. so the husbands couldn’t stay out all night and cause trouble. I tried to help with the law.”
Of course, cheating and the threat of robbery were always part of the business, but Hooks had both covered. “I wasn’t in with them, but I wasn’t against them either,” Hooks says of the cheaters. “They showed me the courtesy of leaving when I was there most of the time. Basically, there were some good guys, but there’s always bad ones anywhere you go.”
One of the bad ones was R.D. Matthews, a long-time associate of Binion’s that reportedly did wet work in Cuba and was embroiled in the JFK assassination as an associate of Jack Ruby. Out of respect, Hooks paid Matthews 25% of his profits, and that in turn provided him unendorsed protection.
“Baddest son of a gun, but when he knew that I knew the Binions, ain’t nobody looked at me crossway,” Hooks grins. “He came in one night to play and put his pistol down on the table. Drunker than hell he was. We were playing five-card draw lowball and he was drawing three cards (laughs). Every Friday, I’d look him up and give him 25 percent.” Hooks says it matter-of-factly — that’s just the way it was.
Even though Hooks left Vegas, he continued to visit his home away from home by frequently running junkets back and forth from Dallas. More times than not, these junkets coincided with the WSOP, which was held in May back in those days. Hooks played in the WSOP throughout the mid-eighties, but he never replicated the success he had in 1975. In fact, the records show that Hooks doesn’t have a single WSOP cash to his credit.
As Hooks sits in the hotel lobby, his eyes become resolute. “I don’t know whether I could win [today] or not,” Hooks says as he downs the last of his coffee. “It’s too different, the way the tournaments are. I see these guys make some plays that I just don’t see how in the world they put their money in there. They know something that I don’t know. That’s when I realized I didn’t know how to play [the game nowadays].”
That’s not to say Hooks doesn’t give it a go from time to time. In early 2012, Hooks was actually staying at theWinstar Casino just across the border in Oklahoma. Hooks had used his history with Steve Wynn to secure a position as a room ambassador, which required him to bring in clientele and keep the games thriving. In exchange, Hooks was provided with a free room. It wasn’t a bad arrangement, but eventually Hooks’ failing health inspired him to seek out his doctor back in Edgewood.
It was during that return visit that Hooks spent the night at the Best Western. After visiting with his doctor, who informed him that he had a deteriorating hip and a fluid build up in his knee, Hooks took the opportunity to see some friends. Being back home suited him just fine, so after decades on the road, Hooks opted to settle down. As to what’s become of his family, Hooks is a bit reticent to share. There’s an unmistakable sense of regret and misfortune that clouds his eyes, but he does say that many family members have reentered his life.
As far as Vegas and his high-rolling lifestyle are concerned, those days are squarely in his rearview mirror. It’s been 20 years since Hooks last visited Vegas, and 15 since he’s conversed with his old pals Jack Binion and Doyle Brunson. While paying a visit to his past may not be in the cards, Hooks passes the time the same way he has for years. He still enjoys making and taking a bet, and occasionally antes up in a poker game at the local country club. However, neither of those things is on today’s agenda. Now it’s time to empty his mind of old memories and take a seat in his brand new chair for an afternoon nap.
“I’m not a saint, but I’ve been this long doing what’s right,” Hooks said before setting down his coffee cup and turning towards the door. “I’m going to go the rest of the little spell I’ve got doing the same thing. Yeah, I’m gonna do that.”
Not yet has a woman won the World Series of Poker Main Event, but every year we come closer. Each year, much attention is focused upon the last woman standing in poker’s most celebrated tournament. Since its inception nearly 4 and 1/2 decades ago, only one lady has managed to break through and capture a final table finish. Barbara Enright took home 5th place prize money in 1995, marking the only time in the history of poker that the fairer sex was represented at a WSOP Main Event final table.
In 2012, the entire poker community was transfixed by the play of Elisabeth Hille and Gaelle Baumann, who just missed being included in the Octo-Nine, finishing 11th and 10th, respectively. Both were knocked out of the competition by Andras Koroknai, the lone 2012 final tablist who was not an American citizen. The Hungarian’s pocket 7’s held up against the three-bet all-in pre-flop A-Q of Hille, and his A-J outkicked Baumann’s A-9 when the board revealed Q-Q-3-8-K.
Many players and fans were rooting for the young ladies to make the final table and both received tremendous applause from the rail upon their eliminations. Both took home $590,422 in prize money and will forever be remembered for making a deep run that fell just short of the elite class of WSOP Main Event final tablists.
Many believe that the next lady with the best chance of landing at the WSOP Main Event final table is Vanessa Selbst. Poker’s all-time leader on the money list for females had a stellar WSOP last summer, cashing five times for more than $530,000 that included a gold bracelet in the $2,500 Six-Handed 10 Game event good for $244,259. Selbst also landed 73rd in the Main Event, grabbing $88,070.
To honour these great female poker players the second question is: what is the name of the first woman to finish in the money in the World Series of Poker Main Event, the year she did it, in what position she exited the tournament and of course how much she won?
To participate in this promotion please read the next post:
Lan aced this one. The answer we were looking for was right there in the photograph holding his cigar.
Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson is a poker legend. He’s a former World Champion and a member of the Poker Hall of Fame. Puggy played in the first world championship at Binion’s and was the second living person inducted into the Hall of Fame (behind Johnny Moss.) He is one of the most famous poker players of all time and is indeed a “Poker Great”.
Puggy (who acquired his nickname because of his pug nose) played in the highest stakes poker games in Las Vegas for over 25 years. He is one of the few players in history who said, “Deal me in” (for the highest game in the room) as soon as he walked into a poker room – and this was without knowing what the game was or who was playing.
Puggy rose to the top of his profession on his own. He was born in a shack in the hills of Tennessee. He came from a large, poor family (nine brothers and sisters). As he says, “We were so poor that we had to move every time the rent came due.” He then adds, “I didn’t know what shoes were until I left home.”
Puggy dropped out of school in the fifth grade to work and help the family financially. He doesn’t have a formal education. His education in life consisted of the “school of hard knocks”. In this “school”, he was a fast learner and was always at the head of the class. Don’t confuse his lack of formal education with not being intelligent as Puggy is a brilliant man.
At 16 years of age, Puggy left home to join the Navy. He did three hitches in the Navy. It’s here that he recognized his talents as a gambler. Puggy is an expert at things people gamble on. In the Navy, this was cards and pool. He was a shark in a world of minnows. He knew then that gambling, scuffling, and hustling would be his career. Make no mistake about one thing – Puggy Pearson is one of the greatest “rounders” in history.
When Puggy discovered that there was big action in golf, he decided to learn how to play. (Golf is a hustler’s dream.) He practiced faithfully and became a scratch player. Like all great gamblers, the more Puggy bets, the better he plays. Having heard about how good Puggy played golf, a reporter once asked him, “Just how good do you play?” Puggy answered truthfully, “I shoot whatever it takes to get the money.” And he could.
Puggy’s golf stories are legendary. Once, a few years back, I was playing with Puggy, Tommy Fischer, and a professional player from the PGA Senior Tour. Puggy was getting four shots a side from the pro. Puggy hit only three greens in regulation that day but virtually got the ball up and down on every hole and shot a 75. He beat the pro for $7000. While writing out his check to Puggy in the snack bar after the round, the pro said, “Puggy, I’ve played golf with the greatest players in the world for 40 years and I promise you that none of them, including Nicklaus, Player, or anyone else, could ever chip and putt like you do.” Puggy reached across the table, picked up the check, wiggled that cigar of his, broke into a wide grin and said, “You should have seen me ten years ago.”
Once, during a high stakes poker game, the players were discussing golf and this question came up: “If you had to choose anyone in the world to putt a ten foot putt for your life (if they missed it, you would be killed), who would you choose to putt it?” The first guy said Nicklaus, the second guy Crenshaw, another said Tom Watson in his prime. When it came to Doyle Brunson, he said, “Puggy Pearson”. Everyone stared at him in somewhat disbelief and Doyle said emphatically, “That’s right. Puggy Pearson. He’s the greatest pressure putter I’ve ever seen.” Doyle quickly added, “I’ll tell you one thing about Puggy. He won’t dog it. He might not make it, but you’ll get a good roll for your life.”
Puggy likes to call himself a roving gambler. He owns a bus that he named the “Rovin’ Gambler”. On the side of the bus in large letters is his name and the quote, “I’ll play any man from any land any game he can name for any amount he can count” and then in very fine print it says, “Provided I like it.” That sums up Puggy pretty well.
Puggy’s skill as a gambler and talent as a poker player are remarkable. However, he also has a somewhat notorious reputation with dealers (and deservedly so). What many don’t see or know about Puggy, though, is that he has a heart of gold. For example, whenever a poker dealer is ill or someone in their family has died (or anyone in the poker community for that matter), Puggy is the first one there to help. He is also famous for helping out fellow gamblers down on their luck. (Amarillo Slim once said Puggy “was softer than butter on a hot stove”.)
I wrote a song about Puggy. It’s called, “Puggy Pearson, King of the Gambling World”. The song is about Puggy’s life from the hills of Tennesse to his induction into the Poker Hall of Fame. As it says in his song, “He is a gambler’s best friend”.
Puggy, along with many of the original WSOP players in the early 70’s, is a big reason for the success of poker today. These poker pioneers paved the way for all of us. They deserve our thanks and a tip of the hat.
In case you didn’t know, now you do – former World Champion and member of the Poker Hall of Fame Puggy Pearson is indeed a “Poker Great”.
It’s a funny thing gambling. It is like owning a grocery store. You buy and you sell. You have to pay the going rate for cards and then try to sell them for more than you paid. A gambler’s ace is his ability to think clearly under stress. That is very important, because, you see, fear is the basis of all mankind. In cards you psych them out, you shark’ em, you put the fear of God in them. That’s life. Everything is mental in life. The butt was made to lug the mind around.
The first question is: Which former WSOP Main Event Champion and great golf hustler thought in this fashion?
To participate in this promotion please read the next post:
It’s not often that you see Phil Galfond emerge from whatever four walls he is housed in whilst winning millions of dollars in the sickest games online. He sticks his head above the parapet at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), but other than that sightings are about as rare as Dodo poop.
So for Phil Galfond fans around the world it was like Christmas, your birthday, a tooth fairy visit, Easter and winning the lottery all rolled into one fantastic 24-hours, when the great man turned up on Reddit to answer questions by the barrel load.
In total, there were 368 comments and Galfond answered pretty much everything (there was a lot of repetition), but I have decided to give you some feedback on the most interest points, with a smattering of Galfond humor thrown in for good measure.
When asked if players who had stopped playing online poker after Black Friday had fallen behind the times he concurred, but was strong in his stance that there was always time to learn and to improve your game.
He is a great advocate of study tools, as you would expect with his work at RunItOnce, and says that the younger players who come up using them will have an advantage over the older ones that don’t. He included himself in the older bracket despite being just 29-years of age.
“People have figured things out that I don’t understand, because I came up when study tools were a lot weaker.” Said Galfond.
One of the recurring themes throughout the session was Galfond’s insistence that people should concentrate on life first and poker second.
“Your life is much more than your poker career and if it’s not then you’re making a mistake.” Said Galfond.
When asked about his latest learning experiences in the game, he said that in the past few years his greatest realization was the importance of thinking about how the turn and river combinations affect an opponent’s range when considering what action to take on the flop.
On prop bets Galfond didn’t have anything too extravagant to tell. His current biggest prop bet being a $7.5k bet on this season of The Voice. When asked about the rogues from Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Galfond only commented on Chris Ferguson.
“I hung out with Chris a couple of times before Black Friday. He was extremely kind and interesting. I still would like to believe he had no ill intent, and maybe even little to any knowledge of what went on. I haven’t seen him since, but if I did, I would greet him with respect and give him the benefit of the doubt until hearing him out.”
When asked about the biggest winners in the live games in Macau Galfond mentioned the names of Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonious, David Oppenheim, John Hennigan and Huck Seed. He also said that the stakes are the equivalent of $2k/4k so “it would be pretty easy to win or lose $5m. I’d expect that there are a handful of $10m+ winners from those games.”
When it came to the most common mistakes that he sees players making at the mid stakes level he cited auto piloting as the ‘most serious and most prevalent form of tilt,’ which he believes is due to players learning ‘rules’ when they first learn to play such as pre flop charts, standard c-bet sizing’s, etc. He called these ‘crutches’ and said that although they may help you to play competently faster, they limit your potential for growth.
When it comes to improving your game Galfond said it was imperative to take the time to get reads on your weaker opponent’s, and that talking about poker to his poker friends has been the single most important key to his growth as a poker player.
When questioned about coaching he said that the, ‘biggest and most expensive mistakes as a poker player are the ones that you don’t know you’re making…so how can you ask your coach about them?”
He instead suggests you record your play on video and send it to your coach to watch instead of trying to tell your coach what you need help with.
When asked about meeting Tom Dwan he said that David Benefield introduced the pair 7-8 years ago when Dwan was playing 50/100nl and Galfond was playing 5/10nl.
“He was extremely generous, letting me watch him play NL (and later PLO) even after not knowing me very long. To say Tom had an impact on my early growth as a player would be an understatement.” Said Galfond.
He confirmed that at no time in the early days did him, or any of the other high stakes pro know the identity of Isildur1.
“As far as Isildur- me and the high stakes guys that I talk to didn’t know who he was for a long time. I initially just assumed he was some hyper aggro small stakes guy who ran it up. Eventually we knew he was a big winner on Euro sites, but even then that wasn’t much information.”
When asked about which player he respects the most Galfond said it was Ben Tollerene.
“His work ethic and his mindset are incredible. Not to mention he’s just a great guy. Ben’s one of the only people harder on himself than I am. It’s not a fun quality to have, but it’s one that can make you great.”
When questioned about FTP Galfond said that he has around $500,000 tied up on the site and that he prefers the FTP software to that of PokerStars, and in a live context he cites the Aria card room as his favorite.
In terms of cheating and online poker room scandals he said people underestimate how crazy randomness can get, and during the UltimateBet scandal he received $100,000 in refunds and had never even suspected that he had been cheated.
He said that Ivey was definitely the most intimidating player he has ever faced both live and online, his longest online session was around 25 hours and live was closer to 36hrs.
“They’ve never been a good idea.” Said Galfond.
As well as being uber smart, Galfond is also very funny. When asked what his prized possession was in his famous slide filled apartment, Galfond said:
“I bought a wall safe and got it installed. Then I commissioned a painting of that wall safe and hung the painting over it. I lost the combination within a week and never used the safe.”
If you are unfamiliar with Galfond then the man sums up exactly what he is about when he created this stock answer to the myriad of questions he was being peppered with about how to improve someone’s game.
“I see a lot of questions asking me for one tip or trick to improve your game or get results. How many simple “tips” and “tricks” for getting in shape do you see out in the world each day? And what % of the population is in great shape?
If it were as simple as a quick tip to change your game, everyone would do it.
To get results (in anything), it takes work and dedication, along with some natural ability. Most importantly, it takes time.
You need to accept that you can’t become drastically better at anything overnight. Start yourself on a path of improvement, and be patient.
Fitness is a great analogy for this because it’s very clear to see what helps and what doesn’t…
At the end of each day, ask yourself if you took a step towards your goal (ate well, exercised) or a step away from it (ate terribly, sat on a couch all day). As long as most days are steps forward, don’t focus so much on seeing results right away. Time will take care of them.
If you want to improve at poker: play, read, watch videos, run numbers, etc.
You won’t be dominant tomorrow, or next week, or next month… but you’re on your way.
Enjoy the other parts of your life while including some steps in the right direction each day (but don’t focus or obsess on the goal beyond that). Before you know it, it’ll be six months later and you’ll have made amazing improvements.”
“The unique piece of a Corum bracelet weighs 168 and is made of 18kt White Gold paved with 291 diamonds and the face, which says ‘World Series of Poker 2008′, is Hand painted in silver and decorated with black and red card suits.”
While this sale hasn’t been met with a lot of support by poker media-types in Twitter this morning, at least the potential buyer(s) will be happy to know that it is ready for delivery (standard shipping free!) just after Dec 24th. No returns accepted.
“It’s hard work. Gambling. Playing poker. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Think about what it’s like sitting at a poker table with people whose only goal is to cut your throat, take your money, and leave you out back talking to yourself about what went wrong inside. That probably sounds harsh. But that’s the way it is at the poker table. If you don’t believe me, then you’re the lamb that’s going off to the slaughter.”
Stu Ungar, three-time WSOP Champion
Duhamel, from Boucherville, Quebec became the first Canadian citizen in history to win poker’s world championship. Two Canadians had previously finished in the runner-up spot in the 41-year-history of poker’s undisputed world championship. Tuan Lam took second place in 2007, to Jerry Yang. Fellow Canadian Howard Goldfarb did the same in 1995, losing to Dan Harrington.
Duhamel, a 23-year-old poker pro, collected a whopping $8,944,310 in prize money. He was also presented with the widely-cherished and universally-revered gold and diamond-encrusted gold bracelet, representing the game’s sterling achievement.
The triumph was not easy. Duhamel overcame a huge field of 7,319 entrants who entered what was the second-largest WSOP Main Event in history. The tournament began on July 5th, and took more than four months to complete, including the customary recess prior to the November Nine.
Duhamel’s route to victory was a determined one, albeit peppered with a few unwanted detours. He arrived at the final table — which began on Saturday, November 6th — with the chip lead. He held about one-third of the total chips in play. Duhamel lost some of his momentum during stage one of the finale, which included the elimination of seven players playing down to the final two. Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi seized the chip lead at one point during play, but ultimately finished fifth. Joseph Cheong also proved to be a formidable foe during the long battle, but ended up as the third-place finisher.
Stage two of the November Nine’s grand finale was played on the main stage inside the Penn and Teller Theater at the Rio in Las Vegas. The final duel was played to a packed house of nearly 2,000 spectators and a worldwide audience following the action over the Internet. Millions more will watch the final crescendo of the WSOP Main Event on Tuesday night, when the championship premiers on ESPN television. The two-hour program will debut at 7:00 pm PST.
The runner up was John Racener, from Port Richie, FL. Despite the disappointment of defeat, he could take great pride in a noble effort that resulted in overcoming all but one of the more than 7,000 players who began the pursuit of ever poker player’s greatest dream. Racener collected poker’s supreme consolation prize — $5,545,955 in prize money.
As the Canadian champion, Duhamel was only the sixth non-American to ever win the WSOP Main Event. He followed in the hallowed footsteps of Mansour Matloubi (UK — 1990), Noel Furlong (Ireland — 1999), Carlos Mortensen (Spain — 2001), Joe Hachem (Australia (2005), and Peter Eastgate (Denmark — 2008).