A brilliant player from the jump

The poker world received devastating news Monday night: poker pro Layne Flack has passed away at the age of 52. Little is known at this time about the circumstances surrounding his death except that he was found in his home.

Living the first two decades of his life in South Dakota and Montana, Flack moved to Reno, Nevada in 1995 to pursue a career in poker. His first big cash came in 1997 at the Hall of Fame Poker Classic in Las Vegas when he won a $1,500 buy-in tournament for $67,000.

He quickly became known as an excellent cash game player, so much so that Johnny Chan decided to back him after a downswing. The first of his six World Series of Poker bracelets came in 1999, when he took gold in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em event, cashing for $224,000. He won two more in 2002 and two again in 2003, setting himself up to be one of the more popular poker players on television during the poker boom.

Flack’s last bracelet win was in 2008 in $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha. The $577,725 paycheck was also the largest of his WSOP victories. Just eight players rank ahead of him on the all-time WSOP bracelet list.

Flack was not as active on the tournament circuit in recent years, focusing mostly on the World Series of Poker. In 2020, he cashed nine times in the WSOP Online.

It wasn’t all roses, but such is life

Beyond his $5 million in live tournament earnings, Flack was an ultra-nosebleed-high stakes player, sitting in the richest games in Las Vegas. At his peak, Flack was regarded by many as one of the best – if not the best – cash game player in the world.

Flack had his demons, like many people do. In the early 2000’s, he had a drug and alcohol problem, to the point where his girlfriend and brother staged an intervention in 2004. Daniel Negreanu paid $60,000 for Flack’s rehab.

“I was enjoying good success at the tables in 2002 and 2003, but the lifestyle I was living was rapidly catching up to me,” Flack said in the book Deal Me In. “In 2004, things really started to go downhill. I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, Paulette. I couldn’t pay the rent. I wasn’t eating. The drug use had nearly consumed me.”

Drug and alcohol abuse were a recurring theme throughout his life, but as a “gutted” Mike Matusow said Monday night, “I talked with him 2 hrs in phone a week ago and he was telling me how he had turned his life around!”

Poker friends shocked

Tributes from the poker community have been filling social media as Monday night as gone on. The common refrain was how Flack was the life of every room he was in, how he could make everyone laugh non-stop. I first heard the news from Mark Seif on Facebook, who said, “The poker world has lost another great one!”

Negreanu provided his brief thoughts:

As did Phil Hellmuth:

Jennifer Harman said, “There has never been one time that you haven’t put a smile on my face. I will miss you.”

She added a quick story: “A while, while back, I staked Layne Flack. There were 6 rules that he agreed to. The first night he broke them all. We laughed about it and then business as usual. Rest in Peace Layne. Gonna miss your infectious laugh!!”

We at Poker News Daily extend our deepest condolence’s to Layne Flack’s family and friends.

Cover photo credit: WPT via Flickr

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