KL: TV has done a lot for poker, how does it feel to be recognized by the general public when you move about in society?
Layne: I've recently run across a couple of things, like I will pull into valet and they say what's your last name and I say Flack and they say thank you Layne. I go to a restaurant and they ask to see my ID, they look at it and say, ‘So, how's poker?" I think it depends on your personality whether people bother you or not. I have a really outgoing personality so I have a lot of people going, ‘hey Layne, hey Layne, hey Layne,' because they know I will say something back. Other players that are very dull, people don't bother them because they probably aren't going to get much response back. I get it probably a little more than others, but that's alright.
KL: Do you enjoy it?
Layne: It's always nice to be bothered until you are bothered.
KL: Do you feel the player, in general, has benefited from TV exposure or that the people behind TV have used the player in an unfair manner?
Layne: For sure, I think money always goes to money and when people have the power they get to use you. They see the tool in the way to get to the players to try to make them this and that, and they all benefited off it while we didn't. There are a certain few that gained out of it, I'm starting to get my reaps from it, but I definitely deserve a lot more than I got. Like I just had a meeting right now with Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth where we are going to do a rap video. Not us singing of course, but we are in one. I told both the people I would bring them in, Hellmuth, and I would bring them in Chan. I said, ‘I hang with Hellmuth when I want and ‘Ego' and I want to be a star. And I hang with Chan when I want money.' Hellmuth sits down and says, ‘Yeah, we'll be on MTV that's great!' Chan sits down and says, ‘Where's my piece?' To each their own, right? I listen to both.
KL: You can sometimes give off the impression of being arrogant at the table...how do you use this to your advantage against other players?
Layne: My arrogance has never gone further than skin deep; I have never cut below the skin. I can be arrogant, I have always said there is a fine line between cockiness and confidence and I have done very, very well watching my toes. When I get to be arrogant, someone else has to start it first; I am not an arrogant person. I am a fun person, but if anyone in the world says something to you it is probably a reflection of themselves, not you and f*ck them, pardon me. If someone has a problem with me they have a problem with themselves and that's about how it goes. I don't have a problem with me so I don't have a problem with anybody else. So, if that's arrogant, so be it.
KL: You have said before that you play without fear, what exactly does that mean?
Layne: The reason people should watch poker is to determine people's capabilities. Any monkey can sit down and play two aces but what their capabilities are is winning or losing an amount of money on a hand. My capabilities are high and low. I have the capability of losing very little on a very good hand or I have the capability of losing a lot on a very good hand or making a lot and losing a little. My capabilities are much more extreme than others so that's probably where the no fear comes in. There are the grinders that get two aces and they are scared to death to play the hand. I have two sixes and I'm ready.
KL: How hard is it to use what you know at poker...to really apply all of your knowledge?
Layne: You can never teach poker to anyone. You read a book on numbers than you go do it yourself. You apply whatever you want to apply based on your own capabilities, once again. I learned a lot about life and I brought it to the poker table and that's why I'm good at poker. I read people so extremely well because I have dealt with life in a different way than most. That's where my abilities come in. I have a lot of friends, Tex Barch for one and he said, "Layne, you have a very different and weird way of looking at life and I hang around you because it makes f*cking sense. Sometimes you say the dumbest things and sometimes you say the smartest things and if I asked you about the dumb thing you said you could explain it and make it sound very intelligent. I've never met anybody that can apply things the way you do and it makes sense."
KL: What players have helped your game and how have they helped?
Layne: Ted Forrest has helped my game probably the most and doesn't know it. Other than that no one has helped my game. I have learned from nobody, I have probably taught more. Ted taught me a lot of things about life that he doesn't know he did, just from me watching him. Here is another savant that looks at the world differently than most and I sat back and just watched how Ted does it and questioned why he did certain things and it made sense to me. I have applied that learning of people to the table and that has benefited me greatly. I told Ted that the other day and he was like, "Really? Wow, thanks!" And that's probably the most influence I have had besides the fact of when people do really well and they handle themselves very well. That makes you want to be that kind of person, but that's about it.
KL: What about Johnny and Huck? They often get credited to your success.
Layne: I don't know why Johnny and Huck are always a part of that. Huck came to Montana and I was playing in a game and he said, "The way you play, you should be in Las Vegas."
That's my extent with Huck. So that's not Huck being an influence on me, I was going to Vegas anyhow. On Johnny Chan, when I got here, I played and won a tournament so I got in an Omaha game and I crushed the game. Chan looked at me and said, "Wow kid where are you from?"
Now I come back like three or four months later and I was broke and Chan said, "Hey kid, why don't you get some sleep, I'll put you in the tournament tomorrow."
I played the tournament at the World Series and he came walking by me as I had two aces face up and the other guy had A-K face up and the flop came 10-J-Q. I looked down and I had $600 left and I didn't know it, I thought I was out. Chan shook his head and walked away thinking like, ‘oh well another horse I lost.'
Chan came back eight hours later and I was at the final table with 48 percent of the chips and he said, "What the f*ck happened?"
I said, "Baby we had a bad hand, we didn't give up." He watched me play and he looked up and said, "I love the way this kid plays, we're going places."
We've had a bond ever since. That is my tie with Chan. He has never left me in the dark. If I call him, he is going to be there for me. He knows I have fought hard for him. At the Rio in ‘98 I was sleeping in my truck. I was waiting for Chan to get there and when he did he put me in the tournament and I won it. It was like $70,000 and he left $20,000 in a player's bank for me and he was over at the Mirage. I blew the $20,000, didn't go to bed, didn't do anything.
I went over there and said, "Johnny I blew the $20,000, I decided I wanted to play in this game."
All he said was, "Kid, ain't nothing I haven't done. Get some sleep we'll get ‘em tomorrow."
I'm looking at Johnny just thinking wow, are people really like this? I never let Johnny down from that day.
KL: You said, ‘are people really like this' have you found others to be like that?
Layne: Yeah, there are a select few where you find good friends. Everyone is usually in it for themselves. I have never done anything wrong, to anyone. There are three things I will never do and that's lie, cheat and steal. I am very faithful; I am very honorable and I respect everybody and I demand respect because I give it. When people come up and they want to disrespect me or screw me over, they are gone. I give everyone more than one chance but over the course of ten years it has cost me a lot of money giving people more than one chance. I'm not saying I am going to harden up, but I am going to keep my eyes a little more open. I've run across a few friends I won't let go, though.
KL: Would you say the swings in poker are relatable to the swings in life, ups and downs?
Layne: Not even close. I think dealing with things in life is confusing. To deal with the swings in poker, you have control. I don't have to walk in and play that poker game and I don't have to put all my money on the table and I don't have to lose everything. I may, but I didn't have to. In life you don't know what's coming. You don't know what you are about to face and what's about to hit and that's unfair, but no one said life was fair. When you sit down in a poker game, no one is going to say you are in an unfair poker game, so that's a big difference.
KL: How do you avoid the negative distractions in poker and concentrate on your game?
Layne: It is probably the toughest thing in the world to do. I had a girlfriend who cheated on me. For me to walk into the poker room every day and think about what's going on at home probably destroyed me. Now that I'm not with her I can say I loved the girl a lot, but what the hell were you thinking? That's just one distraction that. just like in life. I wasn't aware of. I just didn't think that could affect you so much, but when you don't know what's going on; when you can't get there, it is very, very hard on a person. Good, bad, or indifferent, I love this girl to death, but there's nothing I can do about it. That's not something I like everyone to know, I have pride. She cheated, that was her problem, not mine.
KL: What about within poker, this lifestyle is crazy. There are people that get sucked into pit games or are betting their lives away, how do you avoid that?
Layne: When I first moved to this town, before I lived here, I played the pit games and did that for a quick fix, the rush. Once I moved here, I feel no need for a rush. I have all the time in the world now. You just find other things to do I guess. You are going to get sick of getting beat up and having them laugh at you. I did. I'm not saying I'm the best at it or anything but I do know this, if I am going to play in a pit game I am going to know the best odds and I am going to be the best at it so I can narrow it down more than the average Joe who walks into the casino. Now it's to the point that I can't play in certain places, so now I know I have come out on top but financially you did not come out on top still. Once you know you are fighting a losing battle what the hell are you fighting for?