Sexton's Corner, Vol. 50: One Year, 50 Stories…
The creation of "Sexton's Corner" happened at the 2007 World Series of Poker. At the time, my wife, Janis, suggested I get a job at the 2007 WSOP with PokerNews.com, as she heard they might be hiring. I met a group for basic training a week before the WSOP at the Tuscany Casino in Las Vegas, where we were taught how to write up various hands in various games. The first time one does this, one is called a Junior Reporter. At age 60, it wasn't easy being a Junior Reporter, as every day you are on your feet all day with very few breaks. In fact, for all of you poker players playing in various 2008 WSOP events, begin to appreciate the hard work that goes into the live reporting, chip counts, and internet computer blogging. Your friends, family, and fans that follow your progress online in each tournament rely on the whole PokerNews.com team to keep them updated, and they work very hard for you. Believe me, I know how hard they have to work everyday during the whole WSOP. My hat is off to the whole PokerNews.com team!
When I started out as a Junior Reporter, I was very fortunate that my boss, John Caldwell, took notice that some of the color commentary I was inserting in my write-ups about many of the poker players was noteworthy. About halfway through the 2007 WSOP, John asked me if I might consider writing a column for PokerNews.com. My first reaction was, "Well, thank you, but I don't know if that is something I can do or not. I've never written a column, so let me think about it." The next day, I approached John and said, "John, I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll write you three articles in advance, sort of like an audition. Take a look at them, and if you like them, I'll go ahead and write a weekly column for you." As it turned out, John loved all three stories, starting with the first one I submitted called "The Cab is Parked." In fact, it is this first article in the archives, as Vol. 1, which ended up being my signoff tag line at the end of each article. To round things out, I asked to use the name Sexton's Corner for the column's name, and wanted a yellow cab parked into a big pile of poker chips, as the column's logo. Thus was born my column… "Sexton's Corner"!
For the past year, a new story has come out every Monday, and readers have been able to read many colorful stories about some of our poker greats from the past. In Year Two, during the next 50 articles, you can count on more of this, combined with some stories of several of our new champions as well. A new feature I want to include at the end of each column is an interesting tidbit poker trivia question, with the answer to follow in the very next article. Besides the interesting mix of poker personalities I write about each week, this new feature will always make it interesting for our readers to enjoy.
Sexton's Corner today reaches over 50 Countries, and is read literally by thousands of people every week. If you miss any stories, they can all be found in the PokerNews.com archives, by following three steps:
1. Go to the PokerNews.com home page.
2. In the drop-down categories at the top, the second from the left is called Poker News; click it.
3. The page this brings you to will show "News Categories" in the right-hand column. This is a list of authors or categories that are archived. About halfway down this list just click "Sexton's Corner," and every article I've ever written for PokerNews.com can be found in the archives.
Almost everyday I receive emails from fans of "Sexton's Corner," which are very uplifting. Every once in a while they will send me their own colorful story of something that happened in the poker or gambling world that is fun to read. A couple of weeks ago I received such an email from Olen Wells of Washington, Oklahoma. I enjoyed his story so much, I contacted him to get his permission to share his email with you:
A few nights ago I was surfing looking for the latest updates about the WSOP. I remembered last year I had googled the WSOP and found PokerNews.com. So after scrutinizing the WSOP home page, I drifted over to PokerNews.com, and that is where I've been ever since! I started reading your columns about your brother, and I'm a HUGE fan of Mike and Vince. I watch every episode of the WPT, including reruns. I think I have seen every episode at least 3 times. As a matter of fact, it's airing as we speak, but I'm recording it so I'll watch it after this email.
I have absolutely been mesmerized by your articles, not just Mike's, but ALL of them. I've read about 25 of them the past 3 nights and I think I've still got about that many to go from the archives. I felt compelled to write you and tell you what wonderful reading it has been. You are very proud of your brother, but he should also be very proud of you, because you are a very gifted writer. And your knowledge of the "players" both past and present is very impressive. I'm 56 years old and I've always loved to play cards my whole life, but always just penny ante stuff, because that is all I could ever afford. But I had no interest whatsoever at all in Hold'em until the WPT came along, and I too was swept in by the Moneymaker feat. It is good food for thought…what would have happened had Sammy had called Moneymaker's bluff and Sammy, not Moneymaker, had won the title? Obviously the hole card camera created the boom that hold'em has experienced, but no matter the how's or whys, the end result is that its become Americas game, if not the Worlds.
But I just wanted you to know how impressed I am with your articles, and now I'm a big fan of both Sextons. I've worked in radio for 35 years as a DJ and production director, so I know a little bit about good M.C.'ing, hosting and writing. Both of you are terrific at your craft. (I suspect you drove a pretty mean cab too.)
I even have an old Benny Binion story to tell. (I just read your story about the guy who rolled the dice for $777,777 and won, so maybe you haven't heard this story.) A guy I once worked with moved to Vegas back in the 80's to be a blackjack dealer. He got a job at the Horseshoe, and some of the dealers who had been around for a while told him about the time a guy walked up to a blackjack table with a suitcase with $1,000,000 in it! The guy says "I want to lay it all on one hand!" The dealer calls the pit boss, and the pit boss calls upstairs and so on, until finally Benny shows up. Benny says, "What can I do for you?" The guy says the same thing: "I want to bet it all on one hand!" Well, by this time word had gotten around and there were TV crews and media types everywhere. Truth be known, I'm sure Benny had called them all. So Benny agreed and the guy wins the hand! The guy says, "I'll take it all in cash." So, they put it in a box and the guy leaves with his suitcase and box with $2,000,000 in them!
After the shift, the dealer who was a lady, went home thinking "That's it! I'll never work in this town again, after costing the house $1,000,000! Soon, her phone rings and it is Benny! She's thinking, "OK I'm fired." But Benny says to her, "Julie, what is your favorite kind of car?" She responds, "A Mercury Cougar." Benny says, "What color?" Julie says "Red." Benny says," Stop by the local Mercury dealership tomorrow, and they will have a new one ready to go for you. Julie responds, "I don't understand… You mean I'm not fired?" Benny says, "FIRED, of course not! You just got us the kind of coverage that I can't buy!" He didn't say what would have happened had the guy lost… Sorry for going on and on, but you inspired me! And by the way from one Sooner to another… I live in Washington, Oklahoma, which is 12 miles from the University of Oklahoma campus…. And I'm a huge Sooner fan!
Washington, Oklahoma (Population = 348)
Wow… I love colorful stories like this! Olen, thanks for the interesting story about colorful Benny Binion, and the nice email about becoming a new fan of "Sexton's Corner." When any writer receives an inspirational and uplifting email like yours, it is motivating to say the least!
Looking back over the first year of my column, it is amazing how fast the time went by, before there were 50 stories ending with this week's column. Perhaps the highlight was the ten-part chronicles I wrote on Archie "The Greek" Karas, found in the archives in Vols. 31 through 40. I was fortunate to have interviewed Archie for over 60 hours, as he granted me permission to write about several things never before written about in his amazing saga of parlaying $50 into over $40,000,000 in a two-year period of time between 1992 to 1994, before losing it all back by 1995! As Jack Binion was quoted, "The biggest gambler I ever went up against was Archie Karas." His story is now googled around the world from PokerNews.com in "Sexton's Corner," and it looks like a book deal and movie might be around the corner as well! A lot of credit goes to PokerNews.com for allowing me to write a ten-part story, which basically has never been done before from a weekly poker column! They recognized Archie's story to be one of the most unique and intriguing stories that probably ever happened in the history of Las Vegas, and granted me complete backing to write the story how I wanted to. A special thank you goes to PokerNews.com's Editor-in-Chief, John Caldwell, for his consistent support!
Another highlight was the 6 Part story I did on The Golddust Twins in Vols. 24 thru 29, which was about the early days of Chip Reese and his original partner from Dayton, Ohio, Danny Robison. It is a story about the two of them coming to Las Vegas in the very beginning in 1973 with a $700 bankroll, and within two years, amassing a fortune of over $2,000,000! The old-timers around back then such as Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, and Amarillo Slim dubbed Chip and Danny the "Golddust Twins", as everything they touched seemed to turn into gold. I wrote a six-part story on them, including an individual story on Danny in Vol. 28, and a special tribute to Chip in Vol. 29, following his shocking death last year. When I first wrote these articles I got a personal phone call from Danny, who couldn't get over how good the stories were on him and Chip. He said, "Tom, these are the best stories I have ever seen written about our early days in Las Vegas… they were unbelievable!"
In Vols. 19 thru 23, I wrote a five-part story on Stu "The Kid" Ungar, who is generally regarded as the best gin rummy and no-limit player who ever played cards! These articles talk about his three WSOP Main Event titles in 1980, 1981, and 1997, and many of the ups and downs during his lifetime. The first article highlights the important role Billy Baxter played in Stu Ungar's life, backing him up in 1997; again, this came years after Stuey was the chip leader on Day 1 in 1990, also backed by Baxter, but got high on drugs over night and was sent by ambulance to the hospital, not able to return for the tournament. The poker lore intertwined between these two Hall of Famers is a must read, as very few would ever back up a player again, if he got high and threw away the Main Event over drugs on Day 1 as the chip leader. Billy has won seven WSOP gold bracelets himself, and is one of Las Vegas' most respected and successful gamblers over the past 30 years. I got a nice call from Stuey's ex-wife, Madeline Ungar, thanking me for the accurate, yet sensitive job I did telling Stuey's story, including the last two parts of "Stu Ungar's Final Journey." I'm so very proud of both Madeline and her daughter Stefanie for their work on the Stu Ungar Foundation they have created. Please look it up in Part 5 of my Stu Ungar articles in Vol. 23 in the archives.
The five-part story I wrote on my brother, Mike Sexton, covered him being selected as Poker's Ambassador by his peers, as well as him being the creator and founder of the original Tournament of Champions. His articles are in the archives are found from Vols. 43 through 47. Mike's story goes into his winning the 2006 WSOP TOC as a player, followed by some insights as to his being both a television and Internet pioneer! It seems like almost every day I run across someone who thanks me for the articles I wrote on Mike, as they say something like: "I know Mike, but learned a lot more about him through your articles and what he has really meant to the industry." The testimonial in the above email is an example of the impact Mike has made on many of the poker fans across America. I've said it many times, but it is worth repeating………"I'm so proud of what Mike has done for poker and his accomplishments along the way!"
Amazingly, these four topics I wrote about added up to 26 articles this past year out of the 50 I've written about! A few of the other articles were on Bobby Baldwin, poker's $10 billion player; Dewey Tomko, who is one of the true legends in poker; and Puggy Pearson and how he met Mike over 30 years ago, which is an absolute classic! Benny Binion and a few of his colorful stories from the past are written about. Now we all have one more, as told in the email above.
The second article in the archives was called "Poker's Perfect Trifecta," which is about Jerry Yang winning three key hands with pocket eights when down to the last two tables, to capture last year's WSOP Main Event. Anther article is written about one of poker's nicest guys, Bill Edler, who won a WPT event and a WSOP gold bracelet in the same year! Then there is Wayne Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones Gretzky, who joined Doyle, Dewey and the boys in the "High Stakes Golf" tournament on ESPN. The most recent articles were on Russ Hamilton winning the 1994 WSOP Main Event in an amazing series of events that has never been written about before. There are a half of dozen or so miscellaneous topics written about you'll enjoy if you check out the archives as well.
All in all, it has been a fun first year writing articles in Sexton's Corner, and I'm looking forward to many more stories to tell each week over the next twelve months. I appreciate everyone who has become a fan of Sexton's Corner this past year, and hope many more join in this upcoming year. Again, at the end of each article from this point on, I'll be asking you a poker trivia question, with the answer to follow in next week's article. Enjoy….
The Cab is Parked,
. . . . .
Poker Trivia Question # 1
At this year's WSOP, one of the nicest guys in poker is competing. He walks up and down the hallways, almost totally under the radar, at least to the younger players. He has won six WSOP gold bracelets. One of the most amazing feats he pulled off is this: He is the only poker player on the planet that qualified for the 1980 and 1981 WSOP Main Event final tables, other than the legendary Stu Ungar himself. Of course these two years were the famous back-to-back wins for Stuey, and this mystery player had a ringside seat to poker history! The question is: What is the name of the other player who made those final tables in 1980 and 1981, and what places did he take?
. . . . .
Tom Sexton is a featured columnist for PokerNews.com. Tom attended the University of Oklahoma on a full gymnastic scholarship, where he was captain of the team four straight years, becoming the first NCAA All-American and Big Eight Champion in OU's gymnastics history in 1968. The Sexton family is well established in poker and includes Tom's brother Mike, the World Poker Tour commentator and poker's "First Ambassador", as voted by his peers. Tom welcomes your thoughts and comments about any of his articles. His e-mail is TSStarbuck1@aol.com.