If you played poker in Vegas long enough, you have a Sam Grizzle story. And these are not the type of gambling stories and tall tales from the felt that happened to a friend of a friend or someone you know. Rather, if you spent enough time in the full-ring poker circus and played poker in Vegas, you probably encounter Grizzle at the table and witnessed his grizzled nature up close and personal ither with an angle-shoot, forgetting about borrowing money, or old-school degening it up at the tables.
The most recent story going around was Shannon Shorr, who shared an infamous cash game story with Grizzle. Shorr, who turned pro shortly after college, was at the forefront of the online poker generation of players that migrated to Sin City. Shorr three-bet Grizzle three hands in a row to which Grizzle barked, "What's this? Revenge of the Nerds?"
But the best story and the craziest involved the fisticuffs between Grizzle and Phil Hellmuth in the parking lot of Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Vegas in the late 1990s. Those were the old school days when you got called outside if you acted like a jagoff at the tables and men settled their disputes the old fashioned way (okay, not by actually dueling... but the semi-old fashioned way by duking it out). Apparently the fight was over just as quick as it began with Grizzle landing one punch on the much taller Hellmuth.
ESPN clued viewers into the Grizzle and Hellmuth spat during a broadcast of the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, yes during the infamous Moneymaker run that played out at the old Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas.
"Sam decked Phil, you gotta like Sam's chances in any fist fight," said Norman Chad on the telecast.
For many poker enthusiasts that were turned onto the game during the online poker boom at the turn of the century, the 2003 WSOP was one of those seminal moments that got players hooked. Grizzle was a part of that unique way that 441 Productions told the story of the biggest game in poker.
2003 feels like yesterday, but it's been over 17 years ago. The Vegas landscape was still an old man's game where Phil Hellmuth was considered a young buck in his late 30s and not a cartoonish version of himself. But the viewers at home, low-stakes online poker noobs, inserted themselves in Moneymaker's shoes as the young unknown swimming in Vegas with sharks and the old guard. Well, Grizzle represented the old guard... someone who dressed like a cab driver, but coulda hand 20 large in their jacket pocket.
During that episode of the 2003 WSOP Main Event, viewers were treated with a shortstacked Grizzle and Hellmuth jousting in a hand. Grizzle outlfopped Hellmuth's Ace-Queen with King-Jack and he flopped a pair of Kings. Grizzle turned trips and Hellmuth went on tilt when Grizzle doubled up.
Mike Matusow tweeted that Grizzle had a stroke while playing an online poker tournament. At the time he Grizzle went down, he held the chip lead. If that's true -- and Grizzle passed away as a chip leader in an online tournament -- it just adds another layer of craziness to the grizzled legend.