Sunday November 13, 2016 at 12:50 am
SCOOP

Johnny Hughes, a poker historian, author and former manager of the Joe Ely Band, recently passed away. The Lubbock, Texas native wrote columns for numerous poker magazines and published several books including a novel titled Texas Poker Wisdom. Hughes is a well-known raconteur and a man of many talents. Benny Binion hired a young Hughes to be a prop player in Vegas. Later on, he earned a Ph.D. and taught at Texas Tech for twenty years. Hughes grew up with Buddy Holly and frequently played poker with Holly and his bandmates…before and after Holly got famous. Hughes held other jobs including traveling salesman, working in a TV station, and smuggling bootlegged liquor from Mexico into Texas. Hughes played poker with Hall of Famers like Sailor Roberts, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, and Treetop Strauss.

Hughes1
Amarillo Slim and Johnny Hughes at The Horseshoe in 1977

The poker world lost one of its best story tellers when Johnny Hughes passed away. Hughes grew up in Lubbock in the middle of nowhere West Texas. Hughes claimed his family had a long history of being con artists. Hughes' father was an oilman who traveled wherever he could in search of black gold. Hughes learned cards from his mother, who was an expert bridge player. When he was a child, Hughes accompanied her mother when she traveled to tournaments around Texas and the Southwest.

Lubbock was the crossroads for music and road gamblers, which is how Hughes encountered musical giants and future poker Hall of Famers. Hughes went to high school with Buddy Holly and his bandmaters. Hughes was still in high school when he saw Elvis play gigs in Lubbock just before he got super famous. Hughes found a mentor in gambler Curly Cavitt, who took Hughes under his wing and showed him the ins and outs of the Texas gambling circuit.

When he turned 21, Hughes went to Las Vegas and Benny Binion hired him to be a prop player. That's where he came across poker legends like Johnny Moss, Bill Smith, Sailor Roberts, Amarillo Slim, and of course Texas Dolly himself Doyle Brunson.

Hughes and Buddy Holly both grew up in Lubbock, where Buddy was the town's musical prodigy. He was chummy with Holly and other members of his band, The Crickets.

“I played poker with Buddy before and after he got famous,” claimed Hughes. “Buddy was incredibly polite and never had a big head. The nation only knew of Buddy Holly for less than two years (before he died in a plane crash). He was the most famous guy in Lubbock since he was fourteen.”

In the 1970s, Hughes spent time in the music industry. In 1976, he became the original manager of the Joe Ely Band at a time when the managers of rock and roll bands and rough-n-tumble country acts were often crazier than the artists.

“One night while I was dancing at the legendary Cotton Club,” Hughes wrote, “I pulled my pistol out of my boot and fired a couple of rounds into the ceiling. Being West Texas, no one called the law.”

Johnny Hughes

Being too lazy to work and too nervous to steal, I became a West Texas road gambler and have sixty years of gambling history. I've been robbed by shotguns, pistols, and a lawyer with a ball-point pen.

Hughes penned his first novel Texas Poker Wisdom in 2007. In 2012, Hughes published a non-fiction book titled Famous Gamblers, Poker History and Texas Stories. Hughes told stories about legendary poker players and other larger than life western characters such as Johnny Moss, Poker Alice, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Titanic Thompson, Arnold Rothstein, and Minnesota Fats. Last year, Hughes published another novel titled A Texas Beauty, Smart and Strong.

I first met Johnny Hughes in the mid-2000s while covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, but I had known him for several years before we finally met face-to-face in Vegas. I initially encountered Johnny Hughes through his posts on 2+2 and the comments section of my blog (Tao of Poker). At the height of the poker boom, Hughes was a polarizing online presence and persistent in maintaining a consistence presence and an elder statesman voice in the capricious online realm dominated by kids 50 years younger. Although I had never met Hughes and never heard him actually speak, he had a unique voice and style of writing. The exact details about Hughes were vague, but the rumors on 2+2 pointed to the rumors that he was a business professor at Texas Tech and really held a Ph.D.

Hughes had so many opinions on things that it'd be impossible to not cross hairs with him on an issue. Sometimes he lived up to the stereotypical stubborn old Texan. Other times, he played devil's advocate or liked to stir the pot to liven things up. And yet still, if he was fired up about an issue, he'd definitely stick to his guns and hold steadfast to his views.

When I finally met Hughes, I didn't know what to expect but had no idea he'd had lots of long white hair. He could've played Santa Claus at your local mall except if Santa had a pony tail. He looked a cross between George Carlin and a grizzled roadie from the Allman Brothers. No wonder I felt some sort of kinship with Hughes… he was an old hippie!

Johnny Hughes was very tech savvy for someone of his generation. When most of our grandparents were figuring out how to use email without writing in all CAPS, Hughes had built up a small following on the internet. Hughes never passed up an opportunity to shill something. Yeah, he was always hustling something for himself, but he was also constantly getting the word out about other things. It was no surprise that I learned he had a career in music promotion earlier in his life.

During my earliest days as a poker writer, Hughes pimped a lot of my work and was quick to defend me against any critics. He gave me a boost in confidence at the start of my career in poker during a time when I had no clue what I was doing. And later on in life when I was struggling with life leaks and swimming in self-doubt, Johnny Hughes believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself.

Johnny Hughes was always supportive of my writing endeavors, whether it was poker, music, or short stories. Yet, despite being a “fan”, he wouldn't let me make excuses whenever I got behind on work or if he felt like I phoned in a particular piece. That happened at a time when my blog had become popular and it seemed like everyone was kissing my ass, but Hughes played the role a coach exhibiting tough love. If I got lax or whined too much, he definitely called me out on it. Johnny Hughes kept me honest at a time when I couldn't trust anything people told.

I blurbed one of Johnny Hughes' books (see below) and he trusted my opinion enough as a peer that he sent me a lot of his early drafts of his various manuscripts. Hughes penned columns for Bluff Magazine and event contributed to a literary website called Truckin', which I created in 2002 that highlighted fiction and short stories. Hughes shared 23 stories of different shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to consider Hughes a well-respected peer and friend. He will be missed.

Goodbye old friend. Thanks for all the Texas wisdom over the years!

Blurb by Pauly McGuire

Johnny Hughes was embedded with hustlers, pimps, crooked sheriffs, and outlaws decades before most modern professional poker players were even born. Hughes is a captivating raconteur and avid historian of Texas gambling folklore. He seeks out characters cast off to the farthest fringes of society, then brings them to life with a unique flair and panache. Johnny Hughes paints word pictures with witty, lush brush strokes reminiscent of Tom Wolfe, but with the bold brevity of Ernest Hemingway. He is nonpareil when it comes to capturing the old-school, rough and tumble days of Texas road gamblers.

Latest news
Sunday January 19, 2020 at 12:30 am
Telex
PokerStars Half Price Sunday Million

This Sunday will include special half-price tournaments at PokerStars. That's right the Half Price Sunday Million is only $54.50 this week for half the usual buy-in, plus the usual guaranteed prize pool of $1 million is still in play. There's also a half-price version of Sunday Warm-Up which will cost $107.50. The Half Price Sunday Storm will be just $5.50. Click here for more details.

Friday January 17, 2020 at 9:38 pm
2020 Aussie Millions: Farid Jattin wins 25K Challenge for $983,646 AUD

Farid Jattin outlasted 169 runners to win the $25K Challenge at the 2020 Aussie Millions hosted at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Jattin chopped heads up with George Wolff to win $983,646 AUD or approximately $679K USD. The final table also included Steve O'Dwyer, Sam Greenwood, Masato Yokosawa, Jack Sinclair, and Kenny Hallaert.

Thursday January 16, 2020 at 2:00 am
WSOP announces 'Value Menu' bracelet events for 2020 WSOP

The World Series of Poker announced a special round of value menu events at the 2020 WSOP that include buy-ins of $1,000 or less. A total of 25 bracelet events will be hosted at the Rio Casino this summer that have a modest and affordable buy-in. A baker's dozen of events, 13 in total, at the 2020 WSOP will have buy-ins $888 or less including the $400 Colossus and numerous $500 buy-in deepstacked bracelet events.

Wednesday January 15, 2020 at 3:53 am
Dustin Schoonover wins WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant and first ring

The World Series of Poker Circuit's latest stop hit up the Oklahoma/Dallas area for the 2020 WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant. Dustin Schoonover outlasted 1,065 runners in the $1,700 buy-in Main Event to win $272,846. The Choctaw Durant final table also included John Skrovan, Brant Jolly, Mark Newton, Christopher Staats, Allen Brivic, Montana Bills, Austin Lewis, and Trung Pham.

Tuesday January 14, 2020 at 4:48 am
Chance Kornuth leads final table at 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship

Season XVIII of the World Poker Tour continued with the 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship that attracted 257 runners for their annual big tournament every January at the Hawaiian Gardens just outside Los Angeles. The 2020 WPT Gardens final table of six is set to resume on March 31, 2020 at the HyperX eSports Arena at the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas. Chance Kornuth bagged up the lead at the final table that also included Tuan Phan, Qing Liu, Straton Wilhelm, Jonathan Cohen, and Markus Gonsalves.

Friday January 10, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Interview: Martin Harris, Author of Poker and Pop Culture

D and B Poker published "Poker and Pop Culture: Telling the Story of America's Favorite Card Game" by Martin Harris. During the poker boom, Harris authored a popular blog titled Hard-Boiled Poker. Harris quit his job as an English professor and went to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker for numerous outlets. Over the last 15 years, Harris compiled a collection of essays that became the genesis of Poker and Pop Culture. We're fortunate that Harris sat down with us for a fun interview.

Friday January 10, 2020 at 3:00 am
2020 WSOP releases $10,000 Championship events schedule

A total of 17 championship caliber events with at least a buy-in of $10,000 are on the schedule for the 2020 World Series of Poker at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. The WSOP released the dates for all $10K championships including the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, $10,000 Main Event, and the $10,000 WSOP.com Online NL Championship, which is the online $10K event hosted online.

Thursday January 2, 2020 at 2:15 pm
Brazilian pro Felipe 'Mojave' Ramos joins GGPoker

The new calendar year of 2020 was barely a day old when Felipe 'Mojave' Ramos announced the news on his social media feed that he will be joining GGPoker as their latest ambassador. Mojave joins the likes of Daniel Negreanu and Bryn Kenney as ambassadors. Mojave spent time as the top ranked Brazilian and Latin American online player with over $2.6 million in career tournament earnings.

Friday December 27, 2019 at 10:36 pm
2019: The Big Stories, Part 2

The year in review for 2019 continues with the second part that covers June through December. The World Series of Poker celebrated its 50th anniversary with a blowout at the Rio in Las Vegas. Hossein Ensan from Germany won the second-largest Main Event in WSOP history and he banked $10 million. PokerStars also announced the 2020 PSPC, which will take place in Barcelona in August 2020. PokerStars was also sold to Flutter (aka Paddy Power/Betfair). The Mike Postle cheating scandal also broke after he got caught cheating on the Stones Gambling Hall live stream.

Thursday December 26, 2019 at 5:49 pm
2019: The Big Stories, Part 1

We're quickly approaching the end of 2019 and the end of the decade. So much happened in 2019, we have a special two-part series highlighting the best and most interesting stories of 2019. In the first half of 2019, some of the big stories involved Chino Rheem winning the 2019 PCA and Spain's Roman Colillas taking down the inaugural PSPC in the Bahamas for $5.1 million. Bryn Kenney shipped the largest Aussie Millions in history. Just before the WSOP, Daniel Negreanu stepped down after 12 years as a sponsored pro and ambassador for PokerStars. Gianluca 'Tankanza' Speranza won the SCOOP Main Event in back-to-back years.

Wednesday December 25, 2019 at 1:28 pm
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidaze!

From everyone here at Club Poker, we want to wish you a joyful and bountiful holiday season. Merry Christmas and do not forget that the Winter Series kicks off today on PokerStars with 242 tournaments and $50 million in guaranteed prize pools. The new year is just around the corner, so start thinking about your 2020 poker resolutions.

Tuesday December 24, 2019 at 10:32 pm
Oklahoma Johnny Hale passes away at 92

Oklahoma Johnny Hale -- an old school poker player, author, and gambler -- passed away at the age of 92. Oklahoma Johnny worked diligently to bring players into the game of poker over the last several decades. He's also the author of the 1999 book "The Life and Times of a Gentleman Gambler: Oklahoma Johnny Hale on Poker and Las Vegas".

Wednesday December 18, 2019 at 12:13 am
Mikalai Pobal wins 2019 EPT Prague for €1,005,600

Belarus' Mikalai Pobal picked off Hungarian pro, Norbert Szecsi, to win the 2019 EPT Prague. Pobal faded a field of 1,154 runners to win €1 million and become the latest champion on the European Poker Tour. Pobal joined Vicky Coren as the only dual winner on the EPT. Pobal shipped the 2012 EPT Barcelona and waited seven years to take down his second EPT crown.

Saturday December 14, 2019 at 11:08 pm
PokerStars Winter Series begins on December 25

PokerStars will host their third-largest online series of the year with their annual PokerStars Winter Series, which begins on December 25 and lasts nearly three weeks with over 242 tournaments with $50 million in guaranteed prize pools including a special Sunday Million with a $3 million guarantee. At least 34 events have a modest buy-in of $5.50, while 47 events are catered for high-stakes players with buy-ins costing $1,000 or higher. The Main Event has three tiers with $55, $530, and $5,300 price points.

Thursday December 12, 2019 at 11:43 pm
2020 WSOP will run May 26 to July 15

The World Series of Poker announced the overall dates for the 51st installment of the WSOP at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. The 2020 WSOP will begin on May 26 and run through July 15. The prestigious $10,000 buy-in Main Event kicks off with four opening flights starting on Day 1A and concluding with Day 1B on July 4. Despite the rumors, the WSOP will remain at the Rio Casino for at least one more running.

Free tournaments and added prizes

The Club Poker organizes freerolls and special tournaments with added prizes.
To qualify for free, register on our poker partners websites: