Poker lost one of the few remaining characters from the halcyon days of poker when the game was populated with larger-than-life personalities. Heck, the guy's name was Oklahoma Johnny Hale and you're a sharp cookie if figured out he's not from Brooklyn.
Oklahoma Johnny Hale had been a long-time advocate of seniors poker. He always claimed that the suits at the WSOP stole his idea for a seniors event. Even in his old age, he promoted poker... especially to senior citizens.
Nolan Dalla initially reported the news (via Facebook) of Oklahoma Johnny Hale's death. Card Player confirmed the news that Hale passed away at the age of 92.
According to Hendon Mob, Hale won just a shade over $502,000 over his illustrious career, which seemed to peak somewhere in the 1980s. Hale's largest tournament score to date happed at the 1999 Orleans Open in Las Vegas for $48,565.
Oklahoma Johnny final tabled at least seven old-school World Series of Poker events in the 1980s, but he never won any bling for winning a tournament. At the 1980 WSOP, Oklahoma Johnny won a bracelet for his overall performance during the 1980 WSOP. He came close to winning his first actual-bling with a runner-up finish at the 1980 WSOP in the $1,000 Limit Ace to Five Draw. He finished in third place thrice in WSOP Razz events in 1980, 1985, and 1989. In May of 1982, Oklahoma Johnny also finished in third place in the $1,000 Seven-Card Stud Split.
Oklahoma Johnny Hale authored a book, "The Life and Times of a Gentleman Gambler: Oklahoma Johnny Hale on Poker and Las Vegas", that was originally published in 1999 by Poker Plus Publications. At the time during the turn of the Century, there were not a lot of poker books out there.
Oklahoma Johnny Hale also wrote articles for Poker Player Newspaper and Card Player Magazine.
Nolan Dalla penned a piece back in 2015 about Oklahoma Johnny's stance on the "pledge of allegiance", which Dalla felt had no business at the World Series of Poker (emphasis on "world"). Dalla admitted that Oklahoma Johnny and himself did not see eye-to-eye politically on numerous topics and philosophies, however, he felt Oklahoma Johnny always conducted himself as a courteous gentleman at the tables.
I played poker with Oklahoma Johnny in Las Vegas and at Foxwoods. He definitely stood out in Foxwoods (which is in Connecticut woods in New England and less than an hour from Boston) with his bolo tie and cowboy hat. The slow, yet distinct drawl was also a dead giveaway he wasn't from Brockton, Mass. Oklahoma Johnny came off as a recognizable, old-school character. He was a nice guy and grandfatherly type at the table.
Whenever I think about old school poker personalities, I think about Teen Wolf and the funny advice that the basketball coach dispatches to his players. One of those pearls of wisdom had to do with avoiding card sharks and card sharps. "Never player poker with someone who's first name is a city."
Oklahoma is both a city and a state, so that qualifies.