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A Personal History of Poker

I suppose to put this article in proper perspective I should offer some information about my background. My name is William Grey, am seventy-two (72) years of age. Was associated with gaming some forty-three (43) years both in Nevada and California, mostly in Poker starting as a Poker Shill Golden Nugget Las Vegas in 1954, retiring as a Casino Supervisor in Laughlin, Nevada. I have been retired about seven (7) years, go to live tournaments on occasion. Although there is a nice Poker Club here in Fresno, California I play on line most everyday.

THE FIRST TIME I EVER HEARD THE WORD HOLD'EM. In the middle sixties while working for Bill Boyd at the Golden Nugget Poker Room downtown Las Vegas. A player by the name of Slim (not Amarillo) from Oklahoma played at the Nugget off and on for months. On returning from a trip to Oklahoma, He mentioned to Bill Boyd that players in Oklahoma were playing a new game called Texas Hold'em. He then took a deck of cards and showed us how the game was played. (for years there was some question was it initially played in Texas or Oklahoma).I can't remember exactly when Bill Boyd gathered ten(10) players as an experiment spread a $2 & $4 limit Hold'em, and they like and rest is history. As far as I know this was the first game of Hold'em in Nevada.

HIGH LIMIT PLAYERS (THE GENTLEMEN - AND THE NOT SO GOOD). I had the opportunity to meet many high limit players doing the early years of Hold'em. Some got to know personally others casually through my poker dealing days. Where ever I was working I took off to deal The Worlds Series of Poker and The Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker during seventies and early eighties. Many years have passed and some of the names elude me, but some made a lasting impression. BOBBY BALDWIN first class gentleman (won World Series in Seventies). Now President of Mirage Hotel Casino, Las Vegas. JOHNNY MOSS grand old man of poker. I liked Johnny, but He was somewhat eccentric. If you worked for Johnny and dealt him bad cards He would fire you, but hire you back the next day. Very friendly always spoke to me in passing, a gentleman. JACK STRAUSS (nick name Tree Top) gentleman pleasure to be around always spoke. Has soft spot for stories could not turn someone down for a loan or poker stake. CHIP REESE very likable person, gentleman, was voted best all around player in many tournaments. Today playing high limits in Las Vegas. DOYLE (TEXAS DOLLY) BRUNSON what can one say about a poker legend that hasn't already been said. It is my opinion that Doyle has been one of the biggest influences on the game of Hold'em. I've heard his book on Hold'em referred to as the Bible. He recently came out of semi-retirement to win a Tournament. NOW FOR THE NOT SO GOOD The gentleman players far out weigh the not so good. During my dealing years I really didn't like dealing to what I call misfits, but it went with the job. STU UNGER, his playing ability both in Poker and Gin were respected by all including me. However, I did not like Stu and I know that many in the Poker world felt the same. He was arrogant, self centered, and anything but a gentleman. As the story goes He was tolerated by many for He was a sucker for proposition bets and the golf course. During the Super Bowl of Poker at Lake Tahoe, I was dealing at a table next to where Stu was playing seven (7) card stud $800-$1600 limit. A player had A24 of diamonds showing Stu said to the female Dealers "just give him the 5 of diamonds. The 5 of diamonds hit the board. Stu sitting in the center of the table jumped up reach across the table and proceeded to choke the Dealer. Two players pull Stu off the Dealer. She was unable continue working and quit. I always thought a cash settlement was reached because for I never heard anymore about it.

Can you imagine they still let Stu continue to play? PUGGIE PEARSON is a very good player and has won his share of tournaments over the years, but is anything except a gentleman. He has thrown cards at me, and called me every name in the book. He hates Dealers and has stated so. While dealing to Puggie his girl that I had worked with some years earlier was sitting behind him. Each time Puggie would win a pot of any size his girl would tell him to tip me. Remember Puggie hates Dealers and does not tip them. Carol left the table and Puggie won a nice pot, the other players knowing Puggie did not tip said don't forget to tip the Dealer. Puggie got up with $25 chip threw it in the spittoon, and said there’s your tip. How true this next story is I do not know, but rumour has it Puggie went to Alaska to play Poker was ask to leave and not to come back.

WHERE IS HOLD'EM GOING? Hold'em as we all know has caught on like wild fire because of the tournaments, TV, on line, legalizing of Hold'em in California, Hold'em software, and all the books that have been published. I believe I can go to any town or city in the United States and with-in a week I'll find a private Hold'em game to play. It would not surprise me in the future to see states in the US and other countries around the world legalize Hold'em, especially on-line Hold'em Hold'em on TV has only started. I expect sponsors of the TV tournaments to supply the prize monies, and perhaps have a system like the golf tour in order to play in the these world wide TV events If I had the bankroll and it would be very expensive I would challenge the California court to legalize on-line Poker Sites.

In closing I would to pay tribute to some of the some of the great players we have lost to that big game in the sky. Bill Boyd, Nick the Greek, Ken Smith, Jack Keller, Bill Smith, Johnny Moss, Jack Strauss, Sailor Roberts, Everett of Dallas, Texas, Sam of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Stu Unger. Perhaps there are more players we have lost, if so a salute to them.

Thanks Al for asking me to write this article, brings back so many memories. Most my follow workers are gone or I have lost track of. If can offer any additional information please let me know.

William W. Grey


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