Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Moss’

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

I have referred on many occasions to the vast sums of money that can be made playing poker. It never ceases to amaze me that a player can come in ninth in the WSOP Main Event and wind up winning $1 million. When can you ever place ninth in anything and walk away a millionaire? Or turn the $100 you walked in with into $5000 in one night?

But I never thought about how many losers there are in the game, especially among professional poker players. It seemed too obvious to mention – clearly for every big winner there have to be a ton of losers. But it’s not just about the percentages, or about losers on a particular night or in a particular high-stakes tournament. I’m thinking about serious, highly ranked poker players who have gone broke . . . and never came back from that.

In fact, according to a recent article by Alan Schoonmaker in Card Player Magazine , “If you’re a pro, you have a much higher probability of dying broke than members of other professions, including people who earn much less than you’re winning now.”

Yes, there are many pros that were extremely successful; former WPT and WSOP champions and bracelet winners like Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Gavin Smith to name a few, that not only lost it all and spent their final years penniless, but they also died broke.

How could that happen? Why didn’t they always save a portion of their winnings for their old age? Why weren’t they at least eligible to receive social security and Medicare?

The answer, according to Schoonmaker, is too much self-confidence, otherwise known as arrogance. That’s when you ignore the rules, thinking you don’t have to save money or pay taxes like normal people, believing instead that there will ALWAYS be another huge pot to count on every time you take a seat at a poker table.

Sometimes, there isn’t.

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Vinny The GrinderBy The Grinder

Poker isn’t a game for nice guys. Sure, there are nice guys in the game, but they don’t come without a shady spot or two. Then, of course, you have the real bad ones. Of course, they have good sides to them. This sounds much like a Poker Yin-Yang, doesn’t it? Given a choice though, don’t we all love the bad guys in poker, and at times want to be like them? I mean the real hardcore gangster material, who have been poster boys of this vice.

Jack Binion River RatsLook at Benny Binion, for example. He stole, murdered, moonshined, and pedalled his way to making the rich man’s dream come alive, and yet the world loves Benny. His glory days at the good old Glitter Gulch will always be full of interesting stories you could hear at the poker table. One could also relate him to the likes of Amarillo Slim, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Jack Binion, and Puggy Pearson. Most of these guys didn’t have a history of crime like Benny did. But who would want to mess with this group? Would you really want to pick a fight with a guy who has at least a hundred poker stories ending with some guy shooting another guy over a silly hand? I’m pretty sure this cigar-chewing, fire-breathing mischief of river rats would put Alex DeLarge or Norman Bates to shame if they were to be messed with. Not to mention, they were fire-breathing aggressive poker dragons at the table as it is. I call them the River Rat Pack. This group totally reminds me of the other kind of rats —The real Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

Frank Sinatra and the Rat PackThough to a lesser extent, Frank was just like Benny. A good man not to be messed with. Aside from being gifted entertainers, Frank and his boys were party freaks—showstoppers—who were the lifeline of Vegas nightlife, when Vegas mattered. This was back in the day, and I’m pretty darned sure you know who they are. If you don’t, I suggest you take time off, and read about them. See their performances and interviews on youtube. You are sure to find a documentary or two about both these clans of men. To me, they are ‘A few good men who were bad to the bone’. Benny and his River Rat Pack; and Frank and his Rat Pack. Just like two packs of playing cards run a cash table all night, these packs ran the golden days of Las Vegas.

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Back at the beginning of it all, in 1970, a guy named Johnny Moss was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize. A year later, in 1971, he defeated a field of six (including himself) and was awarded the championship title and a total of $30,000 . Flash forward 42 years to 2012, and a guy named Greg Merson was declared the World Champion of poker and took home $8,531,853 after defeating a field of 6,598 players. Now it is the 44th annual World Series of Poker and it continues to amaze us; it continues to create millionaires and change lives forever. Who will be this year’s WSOP Champion?

Here’s the latest from the floor at the Rio:

Ben VolpeEvent 45 drew a field of 678 to the poker tables to battle each other in the $1,500 Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Ben Volpe, The 26-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, comfortably ran through that field until he was heads-up with Paul Lieu. Then it turned into a back and forth war where, for a while, it looked like Volpe was through. He was holding a pair of queens and snap called an all-in by Lieu holding pocket fours. The river gave Lieu the win with trip fours and it seemed as though Volpe just gritted his teeth, recouped his poker chips and went in for the kill. Volpe took the WSOP title, his first gold bracelet and $201,399.

Vladimir ShchemelevVladimir Shchemelev, 40 years old from St. Petersburg, Russia, championed event 46, a $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low tournament. Shchemelev outlasted a fairly heavy field of 435 players chasing the dream, among them Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith, Joe Hachem and several other prior bracelet winners. Shchemelev fought heads-up against two-time bracelet winner Mel Judah and came out on top to win his first gold bracelet and WSOP title plus $279,094 to celebrate his victory.

Marco JohnsonMarco Johnson, a 27-year-old poker professional from Walnut Creek, California, finally wraps his first gold bracelet around his wrist. Johnson has been close before. He came in second in the same event last year and just  a few days ago he was runner up yet again. But, he wasn’t satisfied and this time in event 48, a $2,500 Six-Handed Limit Hold’em event, he held tough and outplayed a total field of 343 players  and easily defeated Jeff Thompson heads-up to finally take home the bracelet that has eluded him in the past, along with a 2013 Championship title and $206,796.

And so the 44th Annual World Series of Poker, in what has now become traditional, continues to amaze, continues to make millionaires and continues to change lives.

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