Johnny Moss

Johnny Moss, nicknamed the "Grand Old Man", continued to play poker right up to his 89th birthday. He is remembered for the saying "If things get tough, you get tougher."

Born in Texas in 1907, Moss learned how to gamble – and how to cheat at it – as a young boy. When he was in his teens, a local saloon actually hired him to watch games to ensure that no players were cheating. At the same time, Moss picked up some valuable poker know-how. He then became a rounder – a travelling poker player in search of gambling action. Much of his early poker experience came from underground gambling dens during the years of the US Great Depression.

After moving to Las Vegas, Johnny Moss took over the Dunes poker room, known for its high-stakes poker.

One of the most famous heads-up poker match of all time was played between Johnny Moss and Nick "the Greek" Dandalos, on Fremont Street in Las Vegas in 1949. The game was Five-Card Stud, and the match lasted for an extraordinary total of 21 weeks. This match was one of the first to attract a really notable number of spectators. Moss ultimately prevailed, after winning anything between $2 and $4 million.

Johnny Moss played at every World Series of Poker from 1970 to 1995. He won the no-limit Texas Hold ’em championship event in the World Series of Poker a total of three times (in 1970, 1971 and 1974), putting him on a par with Stu Ungar as the player with the most World Series wins. He has won a total of 9 World Series of Poker events and has earned winnings of over $680,000 in tournament play.

Johnny Moss died in Las Vegas in 1997. The starting hand Ace-Ten in Texas Hold ’em is named "the Johnny Moss" in his honour.

Year

Tournament

Prize (US$)

1970

World Series of Poker Championship*

n/a

1971

$5,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

$30,000

1971

Limit Ace to 5 Draw

$10,000

1974

$10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship

$160,000

1975

$1,000 Seven Card Stud

$44,000

1976

$500 Seven Card Stud

$13,000

1979

$5,000 Seven Card Stud

$48,000

1981

$1,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo

$33,500

1988

$1,500 Ace to Five Draw

$116,400