When it Comes to Poker History, If You Ain't First You're Last

Darvin Moon
Remember Darvin Moon?

You probably haven’t heard the name Tom Jacobs.

If you’re curious, and you should be by default, maybe you googled him.

That probably didn’t help, I know.

Unless you checked out the dark side of the moon on page two.

Or you specifically googled “tom jacobs poker."

Kevin McBride Anyone?

Tom Jacobs was a very good poker player who passed away in 2007 at the age of 61. 

Scotty Nguyen
McBride the other side of famous Scotty quote.

Since he never got "the big result," nobody of the new generation remembers him.

I happen to have a good memory.

I was also obsessed with the Main Event in my former life so I recognize the guys that came so close to being immortalized in the history books and hang on big posters on the ceiling of the World Series Hangars.

In recent years I have seen Kevin McBride at the WSOP. It seems that I am the only one to recognize him these days.

He didn’t get any sponsorship deals after his second place to Scotty Nguyen, despite being part of one of the most famous poker sayings of all time.

“You call it’s gonna be all over baby!”

Darvin Moon?

Maybe you remember the name Darvin Moon? I didn’t when I wrote this blog. But I would recognize him if I saw him. One of very few who would, I’m sure.

And yet he would have probably started a second flooding with a Moneymaker wave if he had just outlasted one more kid.

“If you ain’t first, you’re last”

Not even the character Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, who said it, had a clue what he meant.

Well, when it comes to poker history it makes perfect sense. Do you remember the names Martin Staszko, Jesse Sylvia, Jay Farber and Felix Stephensen?

Dewey Tomko
Dewey Tomko: Famous and not famous.

They are the Main Event runner-ups the last four years. Would you recognize them if you met then?

Maybe you’ve heard the name Dewey Tomko.

Probably, because he is in the Poker Hall of Fame, but he would be one of the big names if he just had won the Main Event.

He finished second twice, in 1982 and 2001.

The Rest of My Chips Didn't Last Long

I knew the name Tom Jacobs when I played in the 1998 WSOP but I didn’t know what he looked like.

I played a one-table satellite to the $2.5K PLO tournament the next day. A sit-n-go, you know, but anyway we were down to three players.

It was very common to make a deal and at minimum save the buy in. My plan was usually to get down to 3-4 and save my buy in or get a favorable deal before the real crapshoot began.

We all had similar stacks and the chip leader proposed that we split it three ways. Since they were both solid players and I was playing way over my bankroll as usual, I accepted.

But the third man said “no." The chip leader offered a deal for us to save the buy in instead. I accepted, but the third man said “no” again.

Who was this old man thinking he could outplay me? I had just finished sixth in the $1.5K PLO and I probably would have won it if Johnny Chan hadn’t outdrawn me.

Ken Lennaard
Who's smiling now, young guns?

I was ranked number one in Europe in PLO for god sakes.

I was tilted by his “no” and instantly blew off half my chips to him trying to represent the same trips he had flopped, but with a higher kicker, and then a full house.

Oh boy was I mad. What a stupid American who had no clue about PLO. The rest of my chips didn’t last long.

A Bitter but Nutritious Piece of Humble Pie

A few days later I found out that his name was Tom Jacobs. That was a bitter but nutritious piece of humble pie for me.

Today when I play poker I’m considered a fish before I even sit down at the table by the mere fact that I’m over 30.

I can see the young guns smiling at each other when I call out of position in my Hawaiian shirt.

I can feel their tilt when I stack their chips.

And I love it. Just like Tom Jacobs probably did.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via PokerListings.com. Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of PokerListings.com.

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