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Johnny Moss

Johnny Moss
Nationality: United States
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Biography

Johnny Moss was an American gambler and poker player. His nickname was 'The Grand Old Man of Poker'.

During his career, he won nine World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets including three WSOP Main Events (1970, 1971, 1974), a feat matched only by Stu Ungar (1980, 1981, 1997).

In 1979, Moss was an inaugural inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979 Moss died in December 1995, aged 88.

Biography

Johnny Moss was born in Texas in 1907. As a child, he made money selling newspapers and playing dominos. Here he met Benny Binion for the first time and the two became friends.

His first exposure to poker came as a "cheat catcher" employed to keep an eye on players at the tables. However, he soon turned his hand to playing hold'em himself.

In 1926, he married Virgie Ann Mouser, and thereafter began life as a Texas road gambler. He built his bankroll playing in oil-rich poker games to build his bankroll.

After his father died in 1942 after a series of strokes, he joined the Navy in 1943. He was honourably discharged in December 1945.

Playing Nick the Greek

Moss is also the subject of one of the great poker legends or myths; a legendary high-stakes, heads-up poker match between Moss and Nick "the Greek" Dandolos, arranged by Benny Binion in Las Vegas.

Did it happen? Maybe. According to Jack Binion, there's more myth to the story than people think.

1970 WSOP Main Event

Moss, Chill Wills, Amarillo Slim, Jack Binion and Puggy Pearson
Moss, Chill Wills, Amarillo Slim, Binion and Pearson

The origins of the World Series of Poker Main Event came from the 'Texas Gamblers Reunion' held in Reno in 1969. One year later, Benny Binion's Horseshoe hosted a similar collection of cash game players. After a week-and-a-half of play, Moss was awarded the win after being voted the best all-around player by his peers. Legend has it that on the first poll, each player voted for themselves. Then, on the second poll, Moss won out and was awarded a silver cup.

The following year was the first time the format became a $5,000 freezeout, with six players entering: Doyle Brunson, Jimmy Cassella, Brian "Sailor" Roberts, Walter "Puggy" Pearson, Jack "Treetops" Straus and Moss. Moss defended his title as world champion and won the event for $30,000.

By 1972, the field was up to eight and the buy-in had doubled to $10,000. The format has remained the same ever since.

Johnny Moss and Golf

Moss was also a renowned golfer, especially when there was money on the line. One of the standard proposition bets he offered was allowing his opponents to start each hole from a spot on the green (albeit from a position Moss chose) while he started from the back tees.

"I was so good from the fairway I always got inside of them on my approach shot," he said. "I made millions on that golf bet."

Johnny Moss WSOP Bracelets

YearEventPayout
1970WSOP World ChampionshipN/A
1971Event #4: $1,000 Limit A-5 Draw Lowball 
1971Event #5: $5,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event$30,000
1974Event #6: $10,000 NLHE WSOP Main Event$160,000
1975Event #1: $1,000 Limit Seven Card Stud$44,000
1976Event #6: $500 Limit Seven Card Stud$13,000
1979Event #10: $5,000 Limit Seven Card Stud$48,000
1981Event #7: $1,000 Limit Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo$33,500
1988Event #10: $1,500 Limit A-5 Draw Lowball$116,400

WSOP Main Event Winners 1970-79

YEARENTRIESCHAMPIONCOUNTRYPRIZE
197954Hal FowlerUnited States$270,000
197842Bobby BaldwinUnited States$210,000
197734Doyle BrunsonUnited States$340,000
197622Doyle BrunsonUnited States$220,000
197521Brian RobertsUnited States$210,000
197416Johnny MossUnited States$160,000
197313Walter PearsonUnited States$130,000
19728Thomas PrestonUnited States$80,000
19716Johnny MossUnited States$30,000
19707Johnny MossUnited StatesN/A

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