Flack Is Back: The Interview

This sixth win comes in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha w/Rebuys event and with it, Flack can no longer be ignored when the conversation turns to who is among the greatest players in the game's history.

The man they call Back-to-Back Flack because he won two consecutive WSOP tournaments in 2002 has openly battled a number of personal demons that led to drug use. But back in 2004 he turned his life around, entering a rehabilitation program and recommitting himself to the game.

Moments after one of the greatest comeback stories in poker history had played out on the felt here at the Rio, Layne sat down with PL.com and a crew of other media to discuss how he did it.

It's been five years since the last time we found you in the winner's circle here at the World Series Layne. Did you ever think you'd get back?

Yeah, I got off track pretty bad there for a while. I've spent the last year or so regrooming my lifestyle a bit and I want to throw out a kudos to my life coach; he turned my life back around.

What's his name?

Fast Eddie Felson - the world's greatest pool hustler. You know the movie Color of Money - the man they wrote the movie about. You know the movie The Hustler.

Isn't that a fictional character?

No, it's Fast Eddie Felson - Ed Walters.

So you've got six bracelets now Layne. Are you going all the way to No. 11 and beyond?

I hope so. Certainly not this year. These tournaments are so hard you don't look at the bracelet; you just sit there and fight every day. Every day I come in I don't look at the finish line; I don't look at what first is; I just try to battle every day.

Was the rest of this tournament as easy for you as the final table looked? You had so many chips, so many hands and just kept putting the pressure on people.

I caught some cards today. It's not like I outplayed everybody, I just caught some cards. The tournament was a little more of a battle. I had to keep my composure through Day 2. Day 1 was a little easier, we had three hours of rebuys and then I had a pretty big chip lead all the way. So I coasted through that day, but the second day was brutal.

When was it here at the final table that you really thought No. 6 was well within your grasp?

When Ted [Forrest] got short and I took Dario [Alioto] out I felt pretty comfortable. I man, Ted is just a powerhouse and once he got short ... not that I wished bad upon him by any means, but it lightened my load. I respect Ted's game so much that once he was wounded I saw the light appear.

You were rebuying like a madman in the first three levels; was that a part of your strategy?

Layne Flack
Catching Flack!

I grew up in Montana and there were little tournaments there that were multiple rebuys. I actually taught Daniel Negreanu this: if you fire, fire, fire until you've got all the chips then you can try and hold on to them. But then [Phil] Ivey came and sat to my right and he started the same play. I went from five or six thousand up to 30 thousand and then down to zero. Then back up to 30 thousand, back down to zero and ended the rebuy period with $40k. It was in, in, in and just hopefully you beat the clock by having chips. I mean I had to make 12th to make the money.

How much did you spend?

$33,000, and 12th paid $36,000. Ironically when we got down to two tables I said everybody here's a winner but me.

Is that what you meant when you say you bought the bracelet?

Yeah, I was being facetious. You wouldn't want to try and buy it like that every day.

You've been compared to Stu Ungar in both lifestyle and ability to play the game. What are your thoughts on that comparison?

I never met Stu. I think I've been compared to him in more than one way, both his personal problems and his ability to play poker. I really don't like being compared to him the other way because I was never really that [bad] and even in my poker abilities, I'm not sure; I never met him. I never played with him.

You have battled similar personal demons in the past, though. Do you feel part of the reason you are successful once again is that you've put all that behind you now?

Yeah, that's the toughest row to hoe and for a long time to not be rewarded for turning it around is the hardest part. Now there are starting to be some rewards so now it starts to feel like you are doing right.

Layne Flack
Back to Back.

Are there any other differences in your game that changed coming into this WSOP?

Absolutely, I've wanted to be here. For the last couple of years I would walk in the door and I just didn't want to be here. I wanted to be someplace else... just [because of] the way people perceived you or whatever. I just wanted to get out of here. I just never wanted to be here and play. Now I want to be here; I don't have anywhere else to go. I want to be here and play and I'm just focused more.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Tonight Layne Flack turned his poker career around, but more importantly his life is also headed in the right direction. With his sixth WSOP win now under his belt and a few important life lessons learned, there may no stopping Back-to-Back Flack.

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