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Poker Star: Johnny Moss

Poker Star: Johnny Moss
Today's poker star is the American Johnny Moss.
by Academia   |   comments 0

Considered more of a legend than a star, the man behind the pseudonym "The Grand Old Man of Poker", Johnny Moss, was born on May 14, 1907, in Marshall, Texas, USA, and died that day. December 16, 1995, at the age of 88. However, Moss was the first man to win the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. At the time of an event that contained cash games, Moss was awarded through a vote in 1970 for his achievement. Among other feats, Moss also made a name for himself in tournaments at the time of the WSOP Main Event in 1971 and 1974. With all this, the player entered the Poker Hall of Fame in the year 1979.

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But the ace's story began many years ago, when Moss was still a teenager. Around this time, he learned to play with a group of cheaters who used to cheat in games of chance. However, Moss learned very well how card games worked, with an emphasis on poker. Moss was later hired by a local bar to watch the games and ensure that they were all applied fairly, without cheating, ensuring the security of the games at the establishment. At that time, Moss managed to keep the establishment's games safe from cheaters and always keeping alive learning and developing strategies in the poker modality.

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Two years after these events, Moss became a rounder (an experienced player who lives traveling) and went on his way in search of more poker action. Around 1950, Moss moved to Odessa, Texas, and was part of the oil and poker boom. At the time, Moss and his fellow gamers made poker one of the biggest games in Texas for many years.


In 1949, Moss was teamed up with Nick, The Greek, in a five-month heads-up marathon that was created by Mafia boss Benny Binion. At that time, players earned between $2 and $4 million. At the end of heads-up play, Nick the Greek said one of the phrases that would become iconic in poker at all times in its existence: "Mr. Moss, I have to let him go." This game was often cited as an inspiration behind the World Series of Poker. Furthermore, this game was a direct inspiration for Al Alvarez's book "The Biggest Game in Town", which tells the most famous story in poker. However, in the work “Showgirl Stories”, by Steve Fischer, the author states that the game between Moss and Nick, The Greek, never happened. According to Fischer, there was never a single report about the game, the story only gained momentum after Nick's death.
Mafia boss Benny Binion, who created the event, reported in an interview about what happened and avoided answering questions about this episode, saying that: "Well, my memory is not what it used to be." However, in 2017, aged 80, Jack Binion came up with the case again to pokwernews and clarified a bit what happened. Benny's son said that the game actually took place in 1949, but that it was not an open-air show. "It happened at the Flamingo," Jack says, saying the five months were not open to the public. However, Jack cites another episode that took place without Nick: "There was a big game at Horseshoe in the 1950s, but Nick didn't participate." In this specific case, the game had "several players", one of them being Moss, who was present in the 24 hours of the game a day. However, unlike the 1949 Flamingo game, the Horseshoe match was open to the public in its final.


While there is no accurate information about Moss's fortunes during his career, at the WSOP alone the player has won more than $800K. In addition, Moss holds the record for winning the longest-running bracelet in WSOP history, which has yet to be broken. In total, Moss has had nine World Series of Poker bracelets in his lifetime.

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