The poker community mourns six-time bracelet winner and poker legend Layne Flack, who passed away on Monday night aged 52. [Image: Hayler Hochstetler, WSOP.com]
Flack passes away at 52
The poker world just lost one of its brightest stars of the boom era, one of its most fearsome, fearless players and funniest people to ever sit down at a poker table.
On Monday night, 52-year old Layne Flack was found dead at his home. Randy Ohel broke the tragic news on Twitter:
Since then, tributes have poured in for the six-time WSOP champion who dominated the game between 1998 and 2008.
Poker players pay tribute to their friend
WSOP Main Event champions were among those to offer their condolences. Hellmuth posted a long, heartfelt message on Twitter about his friend:
2009 WSOP winner Joseph Cada also expressed his shock at the news of Flack’s passing:
A popular presence on and off the felt, Flack was a regular on poker shows of the 2000s. Known for his gregarious, big-hearted personality, he thrived in an era when the cameras were often rolling. Greg ‘FBT’ Mueller emphasized Flack’s genuine nature:
Mueller wasn’t the only one to focus on Flack’s fun-loving ways:
In an interview for Poker Road back in 2008, Layne was asked about how he maintained his good humor in the rough and tumble of the poker world. “It’s easy,” he said, “I respect everybody… I don’t hate the world. I want to bring light to a room and fear to a table.”
Six bracelets and $5m in winnings
Flack started out as a busboy in a casino in Billings, Montana. Six months later, he was the night manager. When that casino wanted to open a card room, Flack did some research in the other card rooms and he got hooked. He remembered how
It all escalated from there.”
He won his first bracelet in 1999 at the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event, for which he won $224,400. Later that year, he earned the moniker ‘Back-to-Back Flack’ after he took down two tournaments at the 1999 Legends of Poker in Los Angeles.
He won two more bracelets in 2002 and then another two in 2003. His sixth bracelet came in 2008.
Throughout his career, Flack cashed for more than $5m in live tournaments. Other career highlights include a runner-up finish at the 2002 World Poker Finals and the 2004 WPT Aruba.
Flack loved to prop-bet
When Flack wasn’t playing poker, he loved the prop-bet lifestyle, gambling voraciously with his friends. The late Gavin Smith, another beloved poker player taken too soon, told stories of how Flack hustled him on the golf course.
Huge prop-bets were commonplace and Flack didn’t always have the best of it. One year, for his birthday, Ted Forrest bought Flack a tennis racket so they could play for $50,000 matches on the tennis court at Ted’s house. Flack was new to tennis, so Forrest offered to play left-handed with a broken racket.
When Flack was better than Forrest expected, Forrest began peppering Flack with ‘two-handed backhands’, a nifty angle shoot. Flack took it on the chin, wryly pointing to the fact that Forrest was his backer.
A wild man image
Another of his former backers, Jen Harman, once took Flack aside and said: “Tighten up Layne, it will take them three years to figure out that you always have it.” However, it wasn’t in his nature and he never shed the wild man, loose-aggressive image. It seemed to be written into his DNA to play like that.
Legendary poker commentator Jesse May told a great story about Flack’s on-table antics:
Another legendary commentator, Norman Chad, shared his hilarious memory of Flack:
A carefree nature and hilarious sense of humor
In truth, Flack never traveled the poker circuit much and did so even less in recent years. Preferring to grind in Vegas, he demonstrated a singular loyalty to the WSOP brand in the last decade.
He notched up 37 cashes and four final tables since 2011. He even played online during the pandemic lockdown, cashing nine further times at the WSOP Online in 2020. Unfortunately, a seventh bracelet eluded him.
Flack will be remembered for his poker legacy but also for his carefree nature and hilarious sense of humor. He is survived by his 26-year-old daughter Hailey, the apple of his eye, whom he spoke about fondly in every interview he ever did.
According to Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow is planning a live show to commemorate his friend: