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Where Are They Now – Hoyt Corkins

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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.

One of the first poker players I remember ever watching on television when I first became interested in poker is “The Cowboy,” Hoyt Corkins.  I think the main reason I remember him is because I thought Corkins had the look and personality of what I had associated with poker before actually knowing anything about the game.  For starters, he wore a cowboy hat to the table, and had cattle on his farm in Alabama.  If that doesn’t scream poker player, I don’t know what does.  Also, he was quiet and unassuming in personality, but on the table he was being called a “nightmare” by his fellow players for his “no fear” style of play.  Corkins’ modest personality has perhaps kept him from being one of the most popular tournament players on the professional circuit, but that’s probably just the way Corkins would want it.

Corkins was born in rural Alabama, and almost straight from the womb he was surrounded by poker.  His father hosted a weekly cash game at their house, and when the younger Corkins reached his teenage years, he was invited to play from time to time if things weren’t too wild at the house that week.  By his late teens he was a regular at the game, and more times than not, ended the night as the big winner.  With no real interest in going to college, and seemingly able to make more money at poker than he could doing any job in rural Alabama, Corkins made the decision to become a professional poker player at just 19 years old.
 
“The Cowboy” wasted no time moving to Las Vegas and testing his mettle against the very best in cash games.  Being the late 80’s, No Limit Hold’em wasn’t the most popular game yet, so he instead played draw games such a 2-7 triple draw.  He also was a fixture at the pot limit Omaha games.  Eventually though, he was lured to the World Series of Poker, and just as he had become successful in cash games in Vegas, in short order, he also became successful in the most popular tournaments Vegas, and the world, had to offer.

In his very first cash at the WSOP, in 1989 he finished 4th in the $2500 Pot Limit Event for $27,600.  The following two years he placed in three more WSOP events, including making another final table (finishing 5th) in the $1500 Omaha limit tournament, winning $11,500 for his efforts.  Also in that same span he won his first career tournament in 1990 at Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, which at the time was the second biggest poker tournament in the world.  He won the $200 Pot Limit Omaha event for $65,680.

In 1992 he made his mark on the poker world by winning his first career WSOP bracelet at the $5000 Pot Limit Omaha event.  The $96,000 prize was the biggest of his career, and it seemed that many more cashes in that range, and much higher, were in Corkins future, but real life situations got in the way.  Around the same time Corkins won his bracelet, his marriage was in turmoil, and it led to a divorce.   Instead of using poker as a happy distraction, he saw poker as a reminder of a happier time in his life, and he quit the game cold turkey when his divorce went through.  Corkins went back to his farm, and for the next 11 years wasn’t heard of again in the poker world.

Luckily though, the Hoyt Corkins story didn’t stand there.  If it was a woman that took him away from poker, it was a woman, his fiancée at the time, who led him back.  His timing was perfect, as it was now 2003, and the beginning of the “poker boom.”  If the competition got better during the decade-plus that he was gone, it had little effect on Corkins, as he came back with the same success as when he left.

In August of 2003, just four months after returning to tournament poker, Corkins won a then record prize of $1,089,200 when he won the World Poker Tour’s World Poker Final in Mashantucket.  Over all the World Poker Tour has been very kind to Corkins, who has made five final tables, including a second place in January of 2008 for nearly half a million dollars.

Corkins won his second WSOP Bracelet in 2007, 15 years after his first one – one of the longest stretches between bracelets in the history of the event.  The event he won it in was in the $2500 No Limit Hold’em, taking down $515,065.  Despite an 11 year gap in play at the WSOP, his resume is an impressive one, having placed in the money 19 times.  He’s won over 4.5 million in prizes in tournaments.

On top of his second place finish at the WPT in 2008, recent years have been equally as successful for Corkins.  At the 2008 WSOP Corkins finished in the money of five separate events, including 4th in the $3000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament.  In December of 2006 he also finished sixth place in the $15,000 WPT buy-in event at the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic.  So far this year he has placed in two tournaments, both WPT events.

It’s hard to imagine how much more successful, money and bracelet wise, Corkins would have been if he hadn’t have had that long hiatus, but things happen for a reason.  As mentioned, Corkins didn’t let the break bother him, and as evidenced by recent results he has no plans of slowing down and is certainly making the most of his second opportunity in the limelight, even if he shies away from it.  He does have a house in Vegas, but prefers his farm land in Alabama, where 4.5 million dollars can feed a lot of cattle.

You'll find Hoyt playing online at PokerStars under the handle of EasyH.

*Read Billy Monroe's Blog*

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