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Poker players offer memories of Layne Flack’s wild career, life

Layne Flack’s accomplishments at the poker tables were often matched by his exploits away from them.

Some of the biggest names in poker, including former World Series of Poker Main Event champions Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Scotty Nguyen, shared their memories Thursday afternoon during an online tribute to Flack, who died this week at age 52.

The players, as well as Flack’s daughter and siblings, joined a live YouTube broadcast of poker pro Mike Matusow’s podcast “The Mouthpiece” for many laughs and a few tears.

“Layne would not want us to cry,” Matusow said. “Layne would want us to party and have fun.”

Flack had more than $5 million in career tournament earnings, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, and he is tied for ninth all time with six WSOP bracelets. (The WSOP awards trophy bracelets for its tournament victories.)

Erik Seidel, an eight-time bracelet winner, recalled staking Flack — paying his buy-in for a share of the potential profits — in an Omaha High-Low tournament years ago at the Bellagio.

Late in the day, Flack started raising every hand without looking at his cards, Seidel said, but he was dominating the table and eventually won the tournament.

However, “needless to say, as funny as it was, it was the last time I staked him,” Seidel said with a laugh.

Brunson, a 10-time WSOP bracelet winner, said Flack’s “mind was as sharp as a tack.”

“He might be the sharpest mind outside Stu Ungar that I’ve ever seen,” Brunson said. (Ungar was a three-time WSOP Main Event champion also known for his exploits away from the table.)

In an interview Wednesday, Hellmuth, the all-time leader with 15 WSOP bracelets, described Flack as someone “who burned the candle hard on both sides.”

Fellow poker pros Ted Forrest and Chip Jett could attest to that, as they traveled with him for years on the poker circuit. Forrest described a wild night that involved bribing Tijuana police so that they could be released to make it back to Los Angeles to play in Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt’s high-stakes Seven-card Stud game.

Forrest said he and Flack arrived in time and won about $200,000 combined.

Nguyen said he was unable to raise the funds to buy into the WSOP’s $50,000 HORSE Championship in 2008. (HORSE is a mix of five poker games.) He was walking out of the Rio, resigned to not being able to play, when Flack flipped him a $25,000 chip to cover his buy-in.

Nguyen ended up winning the tournament for nearly $2 million, about $750,000 of which went to Flack.

A few of the players noted that Flack had joked over the years about not making it to age 50 because of his hard-charging lifestyle. He struggled with alcohol and drugs at times, but he had been clean for two years, Matusow said.

Flack’s daughter, Halie, thanked the players for coming together to pay tribute to her dad.

“I was always scared I would get his bad traits,” she said. “Hearing you guys talk definitely makes me feel like I got some of the better traits out of him.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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