“Yukon” Brad Booth won and lost millions of dollars playing poker and is now in the process of rebuilding his bankroll and paying back the people to whom he owes money.
During the poker boom of the mid-2000s Booth was considered one of the best high-stakes cash game players on the planet. He lived at Bellagio and played in the big games with legends like Doyle Brunson and Bobby Baldwin.
When he bought into the televised cash-game High-Stakes Poker for $1 million and pulled a massive bluff on Phil Ivey, moving all-in with four-high and making Ivey lay down pocket kings, the poker world sat up and took notice.
In the following years, however, Booth's bankroll took a beating playing high-stakes online poker. He suspects he was cheated playing on UltimateBet but cheated or not, he blew through millions of dollars and racked up big debts to other poker players who were lending him money.
In 2012 Booth released a video apologizing to the poker community and taking responsibility for his debts, saying he didn't know how but he'd do everything he could to pay them back in time.
Booth is now trying to do just that by doing what he does best: playing poker.
Booth Regrets, Accepts Poker Past
“I've been playing poker every day now for about 19 years. I think I've missed probably 70 days total in two decades,” Booth told PokerListings.com.
“I'm pretty sure when I die it's statistically likely it'll be at the poker table and I'm sure someone will just announce, 'Seat open for a live one.'
“If I would have listened to my inner voice or listen to the people around me, I would have taken some time to enjoy my life or invest in something where I could get a residual outside of poker.
“Maybe I should have invested in PokerListings or something but I didn't because all I was at the time, and maybe to this day, is a poker player. I've always just thought I was going to play poker from when I was a kid for my whole life.”
Booth has experienced the highest highs of the poker boom. He lived at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for 18 months and had running monthly expenses of $25,000.
“It was unbelievable. I started in a regular suite and ended up in a villa,” said Booth.
“But it was all relative because I was going downstairs and playing $200/$400 and the money was just flowing.”
“There was a day I was up a Ferrari or down a Ferrari. Now I'm sort of up an '87 Honda Civic with a dent in the front or down one. It's definitely been a real change.”
Booth: Massive Downswing, Slow Rebuild
Booth returned to his home town of Vancouver, Canada, and began playing high stakes cash games on the internet.
“Because I wasn't playing live in Vancouver for big stakes I started playing online and went on a massive downswing. I blew through a few million real quick and to this day I don't know if there was a trojan on my computer or I just play bad online.”
“With the UltimateBet scandal and stuff it was really hard for me to bounce back and now I'm in the process of grinding my way back up.
“I'm in communication with the people I owe money to and I let them know when I'm playing a big event and if I have a deep run I'll be able to pay them back some.
“It's just really kind of shitty because I'm still paying back debts from UltimateBet because the people who loaned me money, they didn't have anything to do with the scandal.”
“So I can't really say to them, 'I got cheated out of the money so I'm not going to pay it back.'”
Things have changed for Booth but in some ways his experiences may have changed him for the better.
“I've really learned to appreciate the dollar. I've gotten an understanding about how integrity is the only thing you have. I've made some mistakes there and I'll live with that regret my whole life but they were mistakes and now I chalk them up as experiences.
“I've really come to value the small things in life as the most important. All that material stuff of partying in the clubs and buying bottles is highly overrated and very lonely.”