Poker's Final Table Cash Machine
|Sexton's Corner, Vol 67, Part 1
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Layne Flack’s intriguing and incredible story that at age 39, is still
zooming upwards in the record books! I remember what Stu Ungar said in 1997 when he
had just won his third WSOP Main Event. He told Gabe Kaplan on ESPN in his immediate
interview on ESPN that “Nobody can beat me except for myself.” There may be no one
sentence or thought more important to understand by anyone who has outstanding talent in
any venue than that one! Eighteen months later though Stu Ungar was found dead at the
Oasis Motel from a lifestyle of drug abuse, which is probably life’s biggest landmine of all! In
all of life’s endeavors there is nothing but a series of landmines everywhere. The truly great
ones learn to cope and overcome these landmines in order to reach the top of their
individual worlds, both professionally and personally! I’m certainly rooting for Layne Flack
to keep his train on the right track. With all of his talent, there is no telling how successful
his story could be in the WSOP and WPT history books, before he is done, and done on his
The Cab Is Parked, Tom Sexton
ast week I thought I would check out a new poker room that has been open for about six weeks
now in Las Vegas. I had heard some great things about the new Poker Lounge at the Hard
Rock Hotel & Casino and the state of the art 18 table poker room. It was opening night for the
new Hold-em game called Hold-em Plus where a player can buy a new card for $1.00 before
I sat down next to my friend Sam Shehadah who invented this game and got it approved by
gaming. The Director of Poker Operations stopped by our table, Houston Waldie, and
welcomed everyone. Talking with him the first five minutes was uplifting, as he is interested in
providing nothing but the best for all of his players.
His interaction and congeniality with the players around the whole room was very noticeable
and players are going to love playing there. The first thing I told him I noticed was his chairs
are the most comfortable in town and Houston said they were custom special ordered from LA
as one of his top priorities. There is no doubt this room is going to be a big hit with everyone
who comes to play here! As I was playing that night one of poker’s biggest superstars walked
into the room to jump in a No Limit Hold-em game. It was none other than six time WSOP gold
bracelet winner Layne Flack! I’ve known Layne for many years and before he left that night I
was able to talk to him.
Simply put, Layne’s record playing in the WSOP is like no other player on the planet!
His ratio of cashes, final tables made, first places and top three at the final tables is the best
of all time! He truly is poker’s most amazing closer at the WSOP final tables. To prove this
let’s take a look at his results at the WSOP:
1.) He has cashed in a total of 19 times at the WSOP
2.) He has made 12 final tables
3.) He has won 6 WSOP gold bracelets.
4.) He has taken 2nd two times.
5.) He has taken 3rd two times
6.) He has taken 4th one time.
7.) He took 8th one time
Layne Flack is one of those rare competitors that only come around every few decades!
With all Layne has accomplished he is still a very young man. He was born May 18, 1969 in Rapid City, South Dakota. He graduated from High School in
1987 and attended college in 1991. He dealt and played poker and began to realize he could make more money doing that, so he left college. After growing
up in Montana most of his life he started his poker career in Deadwood, South Dakota, and ended up moving to Las Vegas after a short stay in Reno,
Nevada first. Layne actually held a private game and one of his customers was Huck Seed. Huck quickly spotted Layne’s talent and suggested he take his
poker talent to Las Vegas. With Huck’s encouragement Layne headed to Las Vegas and won the second tournament he entered and scored over $60,000.
The first big event he won was the Hall of Fame Classic at Binion’s Horseshoe. This was a great confidence builder and reinforced his decision that coming
to Las Vegas was a good move.
It wasn’t too long after coming to Las Vegas that Layne was in a poker game losing almost everything he had won in a tournament earlier that night. Johnny
Chan, who was the poker legend who had won the WSOP Main Event in 1987 and 1988 back to back, and then was runner-up in the WSOP Main Event in
1989 intervened to give some advice to a young 26 year old Layne Flack: “You need to stop tonight and get some sleep. If you do……. I’ll put you in
tomorrow’s tournament.” Sometimes when you are young and a little wild you don’t listen to anyone giving you advice, but this was the living legend
approaching Layne to offer some much needed advice. Evidently Johnny Chan had seen something special about Layne’s talent before anyone else noticed
in Las Vegas. For Layne to quit the game big loser that night and get some much needed rest may have been one of the smartest things he ever did in his
life. He showed up for the tournament the next day and played for Chan. Right out of the gate Layne Flack wins this tournament playing for Chan! Johnny
became his mentor and friend. Layne was able to sit behind Johnny in many side games and watch how he played. Watching the Master at work combined
with his own raw talent was such a fortunate break to fine tune his game. This may have been the biggest factor in laying a solid foundation for Layne to
soon find huge success down the road at the WSOP himself.
Let’s not forget the great player back in Reno who encouraged him to take
his talents to Las Vegas around 1995. Huck Seed went on to win the 1996
WSOP Main Event himself as a young man. Looking back at Layne Flack’s
start to become a great poker player……How does a poker player who grew
up in Montana most of his life who started his poker career from Deadwood,
South Dakota manage to surround himself with the best in the world? Most
people don’t know this about Layne, but in his early days in Montana, South
Dakota, and Reno Layne Flack had this unexplainable natural ability to close
the show when he made a final table in smaller tournaments. Then right
before he moved to Las Vegas in 1995 he won 1st in the Spring Poker
Classic in Billings, Montana. Before winning his 1st WSOP title in 1998 he
won another 1st place in the 1997 Hall of Fame Classic and the 1998
Carnivale of Poker held at the Rio. Along with these victories he cashed in
high in four other tournaments. Before he went on to win 6 WSOP gold
bracelets out of his 12 WSOP final tables along with two 2nd’s and two 3rd’s,
Layne had developed a similar closing the show style in smaller final tables
in his career elsewhere. One of the most stunning statistics to me of all time
in WSOP history is Layne Flack’s extraordinary percentage of coming in first,
second, or third in 10 out of 12 final tables he has made………with six first
places! This is an 83% average of win, place, or show in the world’s biggest
tournaments in every final table you play in the prestigious World Series of
|(Left) Johnny Chan With Layne during the All In Energy music video shoot.
To be fair, Layne Flack’s journey to find such success at the WSOP has been in the fast lane for sure, but not always in the positive fast lane. Some of these
bumps in the road are well documented with his drinking and drug problems. He has quite often been compared to Stu Ungar not just for his talents on the
felt tables, but his personal demons he has had to overcome along the way. Both Stuey and Layne have pushed the envelope to the edge of life. We lost
Stuey as a result very early in his life at 45 years old. All of us experience ups and downs in life………it is the essence of what life is about. Some ups and
downs are more severe than others. In Layne’s case his train has derailed big time several times, but to his credit, he seems to be getting it back on the right
track today. Layne has made several course corrections and is back on top of things as of the 2008 WSOP with his $577,725 1st place victory in the $1500
No Limit Hold-em event with re-buys. Wait until you here how he won this event with his key hand against Phil Ivey in next week’s column. We will hear from
Layne about his various strategy philosophies and his ups and downs, along with his thoughts about his Back to Back WSOP gold bracelets he won in 2002.
This amazing feat gave us his well known nickname of: Layne “Back to Back” Flack.
Layne Flack’s amazing track record when he gets to a final table is legendary in the poker
world. Even Hall of Famer Stu Ungar only won five times out of his ten final tables he made at
the WSOP, and Stuey’s reputation as a winning thorough bred horse at the final tables has
always been what so many still talk about to this day! What Layne Flack has done is even
more amazing if you look at the amount of entries he had to defeat versus what Stu Ungar
faced in his day. At the race track bettors love a horse that wins, places, or shows almost
every time out of the gate, especially when that horse wins 1st place half of his career races!