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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now - Layne Flack

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

Sometimes life can take you far away from home, and that statement couldn’t be truer for poker professional Layne Flack.  Born in a state with as many people as the city he now calls home, he’s played all over the world, has been both high and low, and has the reputation as one of the best tournament poker players in the world.  At just 39 years old, the life he has already lived is made for Hollywood, but what’s coming next could possibly blow all of that out of the water.  For Flack, anything is possible.

Layne Flack was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, but as an infant moved with his parents to Montana.  Because of a lack of entertainment choices in the area the Flack family usually spent nights and weekends playing card games.  Before Flack could speak he was sitting at the kitchen table learning the ins and outs of pinochle, the family’s first choice of games.  Flack was more interested in the game they sometimes played when they wanted to mix things up a little bit.  That, of course, was poker.  Some poker players hold poker in the back of their heads and bring it back to the forefront when they are older, and others like Flack, can never get the game out of their head again. 

Flack returned to Rapid City for college, but at the same time took up a job as a dealer in a local casino.  Many of today’s top pros, including Flack’s mentor Johnny Chan, attribute much of their learning in their early days from dealing because of the time they got to study both the good and the bad players.  Flack would often end his shift as a dealer, and then go straight to the poker table with the tip money he had earned that night.  The manager at his poker table didn’t feel this was good form for one of his dealers to be playing at his casino, so he asked him to stop playing.  Flack simply would now have to end his shift at his casino and walk across the street to the other one.

Flack was doing well in college, but he was also doing well at the poker table.  Flack was paying for his full college tuition with just poker money, and even cut back on hours as a dealer, because it was taking away from his bottom line as a player.  Flack also felt the same way before school and decided to drop out, making himself a full-time poker player.

Flack has never been one to go into things lightly, almost always voting to dive head first into the deep-end.  Shortly after making the decision to drop out of college he also decided to move to Reno, so he could be closer to Las Vegas, no minor league season for Flack.  With his then girlfriend in tow, he arrived in Reno ready to take on the best of the best.

It wouldn’t take Flack long to enjoy a touch of success.  He placed 7th in his very first poker tournament in Las Vegas, and then he took down first place in his second tournament ever.  The money wasn’t huge, but it was nice, and it gave him both a supplement to his bankroll and the confidence he would need to make it in a city full of sharks.

Despite the promising start to his poker career, Flack thought it would be best to move back to Montana to be closer to his family after the birth of his daughter.  Flack continued right where he left off in the Midwest, winning enough money to remain a poker pro.  He also even opened up his own card room.  

While back in Montana, Flack met poker professional Huck Seed.  Flack and Seed immediately became friends, with Seed giving Flack advice when he could, but realized quickly he didn’t need much.  Seed encouraged his friend to move back to Nevada, but this time move to Las Vegas directly, so he could be in the center of the action.

In 1997 Flack returned to Las Vegas, winning $67,800 in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em event at the Hall of Fame Classic in August of 1997.  Flack would again win a tournament for $65,000 in January of 1998.  Flack was also having success in cash games, saying he was averaging about $10,000 a month alone from that. 

Flack also began to be seen in the public eye of the poker world when he began finding great success at the World Series of Poker.  In 1998 he finished second in the $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event for $133,000.  The following year he won his first WSOP bracelet and $224,000 in the $3,000 Hold’em pot limit event.

After three more in-the-money finishes in 2000 and 2001, Flack earned the nickname “Back-to-Back Flack” in 2002 after finishing first in both the $1,500 and $2,000 No Limit Events, just a few days apart.  Those scores earned him two more WSOP bracelets, and more than a half of million dollars.

People react to success in different ways.  Some welcome it in stride, and others shy away from it, selecting sometimes negative ways to do that.  Flack had always enjoyed a drink or two, but shortly after his back-to-back wins he began experimenting with a number of drugs, eventually becoming addicted to ecstasy.  In fact, Phil Hellmuth has suggested in interviews that the drinking made Flack an even better player because it made him completely fearless at the table, the type of player nobody wants to face. 

However, common sense would suggest that personal health was far more important than being a good poker player while drunk or high.  When fellow poker players start to notice both a physical and personality change in Flack, they began to get worried.  An intervention took place with Flack’s family, both blood relatives, and poker family, and it was agreed he would head to rehab.  While it was never Daniel Negreanu’s intent for this information to become public, it has since been reported that he footed the $60,000 dollar bill for Flack to attend rehab in 2004.

Flack has been vocal about his drug abuse since leaving rehab, often giving very detailed stories in interviews about how low he actually was.  By all accounts, Flack has been clean since his rehab stint, although he still has been known to drink at the table. 

Flack has won six WSOP bracelets, and has finished in the money eight times on the World Poker Tour.  In June, 2008, he won that sixth WSOP bracelet, winning the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for $577,725.  In August he finished 8th for over 100k at the $9,500 No Limit Hold’em Championship Event at the 2008 Legends of Poker.

With this much success it’s hard to believe that many in the poker world feel he could have even more.  Hellmuth has said Flack has the brightest mind in the world when it comes to Hold’em, and that’s a lot coming from the very confident Hellmuth.  People believe that when it comes to Flack he knows the best possible choice for every single poker situation, but he always doesn’t do it, electing to gamble too much.  Imagine, a six-time WSOP bracelet champion fixing these “leaks” in his game

At just 39 years old, Flack could easily have his name atop the list of not only the best poker players of his generation, but in the history of the game.  Now, that’s a long way from Montana.

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