Poker and fashion may not always go hand in hand but when you’re self-styled fashion god David Williams, looking good is everything
Watch enough poker on TV and you’ll start to think the game’s best players have nothing but beaten-up trainers and ill-fitting workout togs in their closets. At a recent tournament in Las Vegas, somebody busted Joe Sebok’s chops by asking the young pro why he was dressed like a construction worker. Later that day, when Huck Seed crossed the tournament floor wearing knee-length gym shorts, comedian Brad Garrett blurted out, ‘Hey, Huck! I hear they’re selling pants out in the casino.’
David Williams, who famously finished second to Greg Raymer in the 2004 WSOP Main Event, is in no danger of falling victim to similar ribbing. When it comes to clothing, the lanky cool cat’s favourite names are Vuitton, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana.
He travels to tournaments with designer suits reserved for final table appearances, and his luxury high-rise apartment bursts at the seams with a collection of Nike Air Force 1 trainers. Williams famously sports a custom-made $45,000 medallion, festooned with black diamonds and red rubies, that depicts a pair of Aces. ‘I think the piece looks great,’ says Williams, who tools around in a Bentley and doesn’t care about internet kids who consider him a hip-hop wannabe. ‘But I am trying to tone things down right now. It doesn’t seem right to be wearing a lot of jewellery in a recession.’
Strike A Pose
Williams cares so much about his appearance that even during the early stages of a tournament, when he’s pretty unlikely to be photographed and dresses down, he does it with the eye of a Vogue Hommes stylist. ‘On the first day of the Bay 101 Shooting Star I wore a pair of really nice sweats from James Perse,’ he says, explaining that these are no ordinary sweats. ‘They’re cleanly cut, the right length, and they have good lines. Then I put on a white T-shirt, pressed by a dry cleaner, and a pair of pristine Nikes. The look is casual but sharp.’
The poker pro’s fashion obsession is rooted in his longstanding friendship with Evelyn Ng. ‘We used to hang out a lot and she taught me the ropes about the super high-end stuff; she’s into all the big brand names,’ Williams says.
Latest finds include button-down shirts from Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton shades and silk scarves patterned with skulls from Alexander McQueen. Williams likes to wrap these scarves sloppily around his neck, evincing a look that’s part Arab sheikh and part Keith Richards. ‘It’s a trend in fashion, but it probably won’t catch on in poker,’ he predicts. ‘I wear my scarves in the nightclubs and girls go crazy.’ What he won’t do with his scarves, while sitting at a card table, is turn them into wraparound equivalents of Phil Laak’s hoods. ‘I don’t wear scarves to hide my face. I want to be seen. I want sponsors to realise that I’m a good-looking guy who can be marketed.’
L’homme du Sport
Williams acknowledges that he doesn’t always dress for success. For example, he frequently flies from Vegas to New York to play a juicy home game. There are no girls, no cameras, no fans, and you won’t find Williams looking even remotely dapper. ‘Those games can last 30 hours,’ he says. ‘So I just show up in jeans and a T-shirt. All I care about is being comfortable.’
When action moves to the Wynn or Bellagio, though, he steps it up a bit – not to impress other players, but to keep from disappointing fans who might stop him for a photo or autograph. In order to uphold the image, he says, ‘I’m into wearing loud, sporty stuff. I recently bought a pair of Louis Vuitton sneaker boots with gold straps and neon green graffiti by Stephen Sprouse. I wore them to XS one night, and so many girls told me that nobody could pull off these shoes the way I do. Then when the girls saw that my shoes were from Vuitton, they really flipped.’
Just in case Williams happens to final table this year’s Main Event, he already has a plan. ‘I’ll find the top designer at Louis Vuitton and have him custom-make an outfit for me,’ he says. ‘We’ll do it over the 90-day break, it’ll be ridiculous and I’ll look really damned good. Nobody will look as good as me at that table. It won’t even be close.’
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