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Layne Flack: Success and Failure “Very Similar Feelings”
2003 was a massive year for poker but one year before big things were already happening at the World Series of Poker.
Mike Matusow won his second bracelet. Phil Hellmuth had an odd dry-spell and Layne Flack won two consecutive WSOP events, earning the nickname Back-to-Back Flack.
Now, 11 years later, all three players are still winning bracelets and making headlines.
But while Hellmuth skyrocketed to celebrity status and accumulated a record 13 WSOP titles, Flack and Matusow had rockier journeys.
Matusow's struggle with addiction and run-ins with authorities are well-documented in his autobiography, "Check-Raising the Devil," while Flack's downfalls were documented one headline at a time.
"I failed myself as a person for a while," Flack told PokerListings.com.
"But I was never gone. Now, in my health, mental and emotional state, I'm probably at the top of where I've ever been."
Flack already has three cashes this WSOP and now he's made his first final table of the year. He finished 6th in the $10k 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship at a final table that included Jeff Lisandro, David "Bakes" baker, John Hennigan and Jon Turner.
Flack is joining the quickly-growing list of players making a comeback in 2013. Mike Matusow won his fourth bracelet in the $5K 7-Card Stud 8 a few weeks ago and Erick Lindgren took down the $5K NLHE 6-Max last week for $606,317.
If that wasn't enough redemption, the day after Lindgren won, two-time bracelet winner and 2006 WSOP Player of the Year, Jeff Madsen took down his third WSOP tournament.
Live Experience Builds More Character than Online
There's been lots of debate in the past few years regarding old-school players and their relevancy. Did the newer generation crack the game open with math and statistics rendering an older style of play obsolete?
Flack doesn't seem to think so.
"The older generation has more passion for brick-and-mortar and the younger generation are used to a higher-paced game," Flack said. "They get more unsettled."
Flack also thinks the disassociation online play creates between users, other players and money has an effect.
"When you're carrying cash as opposed to chips or online money it becomes more real. And when things become more real, you know, there's a slight mental change," Flack said. "[Online] you learn to lose and win, but you don't learn the value of money."
This difference, Flack claims, gives players a different view of what it takes to succeed.
"You don't learn to be successful at an early age, but you do learn failure," Flack said. "And they're very similar feelings."
This, according to Flack, makes brick and mortar players more persistent.
"I think [live] experience will bring out a little more heart," Flack said. "You don't give up."
Aside from his spirit and being well-versed in the art of success and failure, Flack attributes his success to his style of play.
"I don't think I have a bigger edge," Flack said. "What I think I have a great ability to do is to find great situations to get into."
And if there aren't any good situations, you make them.
"I create good situations as opposed to not waiting [players] out, not trying to run them over, not taking anything for granted, not respecting the other player, but finding and creating a good situation and building off that strategy," Flack said.
This strategy transcends most types of poker as Flack has bracelets in Hold'em, PLO, Omaha-8 as well as several deep runs in other mixed games.
There's no "white magic" or any secret to Flack's style of play, just card sense and strategy. Something Flack says all players could benefit from.
"Jeff Madsen's a good friend of mine but he's not a PLO player," Flack said referring to Madsen's recent bracelet win. "But he just used card sense and strategy to maneuver himself through that game."
But while other players may be able to emulate his style, they'll never be able to replicate it.
"Because of the personality I carry, I get away with stuff and get paid off when someone else might not," Flack said.