Johnny Moss 1907-1997

The ‘Grand Old Man’ of
poker always packed a
pistol, but used his chips
for firing his way to three
World Championship wins

Born and raised in Texas, gambling was a big part of Moss’s life even as a young boy. Then, as a teenager, he was taught how to cheat at poker by local grifters. Rather than use his knowledge for ill-gotten gains he put his skills to good use when he was hired by a saloon to watch over games and make sure they were played fairly. It was while watching the action that he picked up the strategy needed for him to make his mark on the road as a rounder.

From Mexico to Tahoe, Moss plied his trade, cleaning out gamblers and poker players fair and square. But there was a lot of cheating back then and Moss knew how to look after himself, once shooting a guy in the arse when he realised there was a spy peeping at players’ cards through a hole in the ceiling.

But it was his infamous five-month poker marathon with Nick ‘The Greek’ Dandalos at his good friend Benny Binion’s casino in 1949 that he’s most fondly remembered for. Depending on which source you read he took anywhere between $2-$4m from Dandalos, before The Greek ‘had to let him go’.

Moss went on to dominate the poker world throughout the 1970s winning the WSOP three times – a record he still jointly holds with Stu Ungar. Unsurprisingly he was one of the charter inductees into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1979 and is arguably the most seminal figure in poker’s colourful history.

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