Center for Gaming Research
UNLVGamingReseach on Facebook UNLVGaming on Twitter
UNLV
WSOP Retrospective
Early Player Biographies

These brief player biographies come from the 1978 media guide, and give an idea of the caliber and background of the major players in the tournaments of the 1970s.

 

LOUIS "SARGE" HUNSAKER
Austin nightclub owner of Caesar's and the Oasis, Louis Hunsaker, whose forte is gin rummy, made an impressive showing in his first bid for the World Series championship in 1977. "I won the businessmen's tournament and placed fourth in the preliminaries, so I thought I'd just aim a little higher and enter the big game," explains the family man with three kids. Hunsaker says he's played cards at home twice a week for the past 20 years --his wife, Louise, was a formidable contender in the '77 Women's World Championship. Both describe their playing style as conservative with occasional bluffing.*
"Sure we'll be back in '79," the soft-spoken nonpro shrugs. "Why not give it another shot?" Sarge showed in the championship tournament in 1978 with a third-place win of $63,000 behind Bobby Baldwin and Crandall Addington. In addition, he copped an additional third-place win of $7,800 in the nonprofessional event.

JOHNNY MOSS
At 73, Odessa, Texas' Johnny Moss (1974's $160,000 winner in the World Series of Poker, and additionally, champion in 1970 and 1971), is the dean of Lone Star State players. He has been playing poker since the age of twelve and was a boy- hood friend of the Horseshoe Casino's Benny Binion and Chill Wills.
One of the all-time big money winners in poker, Moss pocketed ten million dollars from the tables in 1950 --and lost it all shooting craps. He took a hiatus from Las Vegas for about fifteen years to insure his financial security with blue-chip investments before returning to big-time gambling in 1969.
Called the Pro's Pro by fellow gamblers, Moss displays the cool facade, steel nerves and steady hand most authors depict in any tome about high-stakes card players. Johnny recently retired as manager of the card room at Las Vegas' Dunes Hotel and currently divides his time between his home in Odessa and the many high-limit games at several Las Vegas casinos.

WALTER CLYDE PEARSON
Walter Clyde "Puggy Wuggy" Pearson is one of the best poker players in professional gambling and a champion in the Horseshoe Casino's 1973 World Series of Poker tournament. Born into a large and poor Tennessee family, he was a top-flight Navy Frogman and an equally top-flight pool shooter before taking up cards as a full-time occupation in the late '50's.
An action man whose specialty is Seven-Card Stud, Pearson plays all games against any opposition. His trademark is an erratic temperament, a huge cigar and a colorful game style that almost always draws a crowd of onlookers.
Pearson is easily one of the all-time aggressive players --with a talent for homespun philosophy. He's spending considerable time as a family man with his devoted wife and three children.

MILO "SLEW" JACOBSON
Nobody in Las Vegas had ever heard of Milo Jacobson before he walked into the Horseshoe Casino and counted out $10,000 buy-in money for the Hold-Em championship of the 1977 World Series of Poker.
They still don't know much about Milo, but it will be a long time before anyone forgets him.
He hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is retired and plays poker at the local Elks Club.
He enjoys a martini or two for breakfast, and usually keeps a Canadian Club within easy reach while he plays.
He insists he's encountered tougher poker competition at the Elks Club.
A quiet man standing well over six feet tall and pushing 300 pounds, Milo Jacobson emerged as the Cinderella challenger in '77 and was the last man out as Doyle "Dolly Doyle" Brunson bested a field of seasoned pros and amateurs for $340,000.
"I'll be back next year," he drawled casually, "and probably bring a bus full of the Elks with me. Y'see, I'm considered the worst Hold-Em player in Sioux Falls. When the other fellas find out I came in second for a $340,000 pot, they'll beat a trail to The Horseshoe Casino."

JACK STRAUSS
Houston's Jack Strauss, nicknamed "Tree Top" by fellow players, is one of the most popular contenders in every World Series of Poker classic. He can be counted on to entertain fellow pros with wild, wooley and thoroughly outrageous stories (99 & 44/100% true) about his gambling experiences.
A former basketball player with a degree in business ad- ministration from Texas A&M, Strauss is today one of the most feared Hold-Em players anywhere in America.
Although he has always been considered a leading poker player, Strauss' fondness for sports betting, crap shooting, horse races, golf, etc., keeps him hard at work playing cards to support such diversions.
A poker player since collegiate days, he easily made the transition to professional ranks. Strauss, who has been likened to Paul Newman's character in "The Sting", is one of the most popular and colorful entries in The Horseshoe's World Series of Poker.

AMARILLO SLIM PRESTON
Amarillo Slim Preston, World Series champion of 1972, is one of the most written-about poker players of The Horse- shoe Casino's World Series of Poker.
Slim's an expert pool shooter, who once topped Minnesota Fats hands down with a broom handle cue. He often exercises -a well-trained talent for unearthing unlikely, high-stakes bets at almost anything from a record-breaking horseback ride to playing Evil Knievel at golf --using a hammer for a club --and beating a ping-pong champ with a Coke bottle paddle.
Hailing from Texas, Slim raises cattle and quarter horses on a 3,170-acre ranch near Amarillo. He also tours, lectures, meets with civic dignitaries, and even manages a bit of motion picture fame when he isn't involved in poker.
A colorful and popular contender in the World Series event, he is definitely a man to watch.

BRIAN "SAILOR" ROBERTS
Brian "Sailor" Roberts, a grand-prize winner of $210,000 in 1975's World Series, learned to shoot dice as a l2-year- old caddie and later emerged from a four-year hitch in the Navy during the Korean War as a full-time gambler. He migrated to Las Vegas from San Angelo, Texas, after earning the reputation of being one of the better card players throughout the Southwest. Roberts has been a Las Vegas regular since the '60's and a deadly opponent in his favorite game --2-7 low-ball. He is also considered a top-flight bridge player as well as an expert in virtually any card game.
One of the most popular players in the Horseshoe Casino's World Series of Poker, Roberts enjoys an elite following among the more attractive ladies who find their way to Las Vegas --a distinction which he enjoys to its fullest degree.

BOB HOOKS
Edgewood, Texas' Bob Hooks, a World Class Hold-Em enthusiast, considers money management "the most important
thing in being a successful, all-around poker player." This, along with his impressive skill, has earned him tremendous winnings and the respect of his fellow pros. He's the epitome of the poker player/businessman, whose many diversified investments have enabled him to hold onto his winnings and acquire a comfortable nest egg while climbing to the highest plateaus of pokerdom.
Money management is, in fact, what separates the players at the top of.their profession, according to Hooks, a regular World Series entrant, who'll apply his philosophy once again
in the 1979 Hold-Em tournament. He finished second in 1975's championship game and is always a formidable contender.
A pleasant, gracious guy, Hooks makes the rounds at Las Vegas' poker casinos on a daily basis for both fun and considerable profit.

BOBBY HOFF
Bobby "The Wizard" Hoff is another of Texas' contributions to the big-league poker circuit. A hard-driving player, his aggressive approach has been known to literally force opponents to gamble higher than their conventional game plans. His nickname, "The Wizard", was bestowed upon him in Las Vegas be- cause of his amazing ability to make extremely large stacks of black chips disappear with regularity.
As a Texan, it is natural that Hoff's specialty is Hold- Em, but he is also a scratch golfer and has attended the University of Texas on a golf scholarship.
Considered a self-made poker player (with a devout respect for Herbert Yardley's "Education of a Poker Player"), he is a fast-living gambler with a penchant for fine wines and an equally expert eye for lovely ladies.

"CADILLAC JACK" GRIMM
Abilene, Texas's "Cadillac Jack" Grimm, an amateur in poker who plays like a pro, according to all the best sources at the World Series, provides formidable competition for everyone. Conservative in his approach and prone to bluffing, "if it's worthwhile," "Cadillac Jack's" forte is- Hold-Em, though he en- joys all forms of poker, as well as bridge. "I play strictly for pleasure, relaxation and fellowship," says the successful "wildcatter", a geology graduate of the University of Oklahoma, who maintains that drilling for oil in the U.S., Canada and Australia is a bigger, tougher gamble than poker.
But he's game for all sorts of adventures and thrives on risk, excitement and the unknown. Recently, the poker-playing ex-Marine financed an expedition to Scotland to find the Loch Ness Monster and now possesses photographs which he says support his belief in its existence.
In 1976, he organized an expedition along the Rio Grande to find the much-publicized Big Bird, with its 15-foot wingspan. Though he and his companions did not sight the creature, they did get to observe some rare whooping cranes.
Recently, Grimm and a la-man team traveled to Mt. Ararat in Turkey in search of Noah's Ark and returned with wood from 45,OOO-year-old timber.
A search for Big Foot is in the cards. It's "Cadillac Jack's" loftiest goal --next to winning the World Series of
Poker.

HOWARD "TAHOE" ANDREW
One of the World Series of Poker's most formidable non- pros, industrial engineer Howard "Tahoe" Andrew placed first after two days of play in last year's big Hold-Em tournament and won both The Horseshoe's Businessmen's and Preliminary Hold-Em tournaments in 1976.
Pleasanton, California's Andrew, who refined his gambling skills in Lake Tahoe where he resided for 10 years, has a daredevil reputation. If an award were given out to the player who shoved all his chips to the center of the pot most often, he'd probably win it.
"Actually, my winning strategy is to bluff at a conservative player," maintains "Tahoe", who'll make his fourth bid for the World Series championship this year.
Also a tennis buff, Andrew spends leisure hours both in the casinos and on the courts. He claims he's a bachelor "because no one could put up with a gambler."

ED "JUNIOR" WHITED
A World Class player from Austin, Texas, with a reputation for being a steady winner in top-level play, "Junior"
wears many different hats at the poker table. With a style ranging from aggressive to conservative, he plays as well in. a Ring (full) game as he does shorthanded. His forte is no- limit Hold-Em, and he's also an excellent short-card player (gin rummy, knock poker, pitch, etc.).
A lifelong gambler, who bought his first shoes at 10 and lost them the next week shooting craps with his cousin, Whited won a grocery store from his uncle the following year playing the same game. A burly man with thick sideburns and hair slicked back in a pompador, he projects an Elvis Presley country-boy image and enjoys fishing and small-game hunting in his spare time. Now a full-time gambler who'll bet on anything from horses to fish, cracks in the sidewalk to license plates, he once made his living raising fighting cocks in Mexico. "Poker playing," says "Junior", "isn't knowing what you have. Anybody can know that. It's knowing what the other guy has. It's that and selling your hand to make the most money. You have to analyze people. If they can be read, I'll do it sooner or later."

DAVID "CHIP" REESE
David "Chip" Reese meant to enter law school after graduating from Dartmouth with an economics degree. But his life took an unexpected turn in the summer of '75: en route to visit a pal in California, Chip got sidetracked in Las
Vegas and never traveled west of Binion's Horseshoe Casino.
His avocation, gambling, became his vocation, and the 27-year- old World Series regular joined the ranks of the poker pros, providing formidable competition to the more seasoned members of the Horseshoe fraternity.
"Law doesn't have the same monetary incentive as poker," explains the .cherubic, blond poker buff, whose forte is seven- card stud. Chip's folks still don't accept the argument and were ignorant of their son's decision to venture outside the law game for nearly a year. During that time, they continued to mail checks to him, unaware that the transplanted Ohioan was a highly successful gambler on a lengthy winning streak. Chip's a liberal player who bluffs "all the time", and polishes his poker skills every day. "I'm confident I can win the World Series one year soon," he maintains. And older players concede the talent of the kid who made it all the way to the top ten last year before bowing out.
Currently, Chip manages the poker room at the Dunes Casino.

"CHICAGO SAM" PETRILLO
Free-lance poker pro and lifelong gambler, Sam Petrillo began betting friendly games with pals l6 years ago in Chicago bars while working at Sears and, later on, the Milwaukee Road as a timekeeper. In 1971, he left the Windy City, the "real world", his ex-wife and three kids to indulge a propensity for high-stakes poker in Las Vegas.
"Chicago Sam" launched his new career by dealing 21 at the Stardust, Sands and Fremont Hotels. But his real interests lay in graduating to the pro ranks in poker. He began playing almost daily and won with sufficient regularity to
quit dealing rive years ago. "I've been at it nonstop ever since and I'll never do anything else," he says, chewing his Tiparillo with conviction.
Currently, Petrillo plays 11-12 hours, five or six nights a week. "You got to have people with big money. Otherwise, you don't have a challenging game," he insists. Conceding that the World Series is a personal long shot, he views it as the ultimate competition with the biggest prize. And "Chicago Sam" will give it another go in 1979.

JESSIE ALTO
Jessie Alto, a nonpro who finished second in 1976's World Series and fifth in 1978, is physically one of the strongest players. He maintains top shape playing racquetball and boasts the colorful background of having been born
in Mexico of Lebanese parents, raised in Israel, and calling Houston, Texas his hometown. He speaks several languages fluently.
Alto, who makes a living as an auto dealer, has played poker since coming to America at nineteen. He is alert and
an effective bluffer and World Class Hold-Em player. He also enjoys the distinction of being called a tireless player. He once played for an entire week without giving way to fatigue or sharpness.

BILL BOYD
Seventy-four-year-old Bill Boyd is easily the dominant five-card stud player in The Horseshoe's World Series of
Poker. He has not only won the championship in his division every year of play, but is considered so strong that, during
one year's tournament, there were no challenges for the championship.
Hailing from McNeil, Arkansas, Boyd is an executive of the Golden Nugget Casino and could easily pass for one of Norman Rockwell's paintings of a kindly grandfather.
Despite his age, he has tremendous stamina and often plays for days when he can find the competition. By reputa- tion and the actual records, Boyd stands alone as the greatest five-card stud player alive.

GARY "'BONES" BERLAND
Gary "Bones" Berland, runner-up to $340,000 in 1977, hopes to celebrate his 28th birthday May 9 by winning a half-million dollars at the 1979 World Series of Poker.
The soft-spoken ex-dealer from Gardena, California, a small town outside Los Angeles known throughout the state for its plethora of poker clubs, grew up gambling. While a student at Gardena High, he entered the large Gardena gambling circle before graduating to big-time poker. As a teenager, he enjoyed shooting pool, bowling for money and betting on horses.
In 1968, .the Berlands, all of whom are supportive of Bones' gambling career, moved to Las Vegas. Bones entered
college and majored in business at the University of Nevada. But after a year-and-a-half of academia, he found studying interfered with gambling and quit school to pursue poker on a full-time basis.
Bones' superior skills as a mathematician have served him well. A whiz at Hold-Em, the three-time World Series participant can compute the price on a given hand almost instantaneously. He aims to exercise this advantage toward beating out all competition at Binion's this year.
Gary displayed his superior skills during the 1978 Series by winning the Seven-Card Razz championship for $19,200 and placing second in Ace-to-Five low ball for $9,600.

TOMMY HUFNAGLE
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania's Tommy Hufnagle came to Las Vegas seven years ago and progressed to the point of being one of the best limit Hold-Em players in town. He ventured into the Horseshoe Casino for the World Series for the first time last year and proved his skill by finishing third. His reputation as one of the world's best all-around poker players derives from his talent as a very high limit player, and if he were to concentrate on no-limit playing, he could very well be number one in the World Series.
The handsome, 34-year-old Hufnagle enjoys water skiing, boating and weight-lifting. He's a health-conscious nonsmoker.

GEORGE HUBER
Now a Las Vegas resident, George Huber originally hails from Indiana. At 32, he is one of the finest Hold-Em players in the country, having won the $150,000, Amarillo Slim Classic in February of 1979. George led the field on the third day of play in the 1978 World Series of Poker championships and is definitely one of the favorites to cop top honors in this year's contest.
A professional gambler for the last ten years, George began his career in Indianapolis, Indiana, leaving a $120-a-week job as a sheet metal worker to take on the local hoosiers in poker. Known as a conservative player, George is characteristic of the growing new breed of young poker professionals who are making their mark in the game.

 

WSOP Index | Horseshoe History | Benny Binion | Annual | Galleries | Writings | About

Follow UNLVgaming on Follow unlvgaming on Twitter Twitter and UNLVGamingResearch on Facebook

© 2016 University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Do not copy or reuse without permission.


Last modified Wednesday, 20-May-2009 14:03:08 PDT