There are "old school" poker players, and then there are the real deal old school players.
Larry Wright qualifies as one of the original poker pioneers who brought the game from Texas to Las Vegas.
“It was unbelievable,” Wright recalled from the 2014 World Series of Poker. “We had a lot of fun. I played Ace-to-Five and Razz at the Stardust in ‘76 and ‘77 and played with all the greats back then.
“In that game I learned it’s not even close to (playing) what you have,” he continued, “It’s what they think you have and what you think they have.”
That group included Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, and Sailor Roberts among others but Wright soon realized he needed something more.
He moved home to begin a trucking business in Texas, built a large fleet, and then cashed out. Wright sold the successful company to his employees for $1 before coming back to play.
“I played a couple of (early) years and then stayed away for 25 years,” Wright said, “I went and made my stake in life then came back and decided to have some fun.”
"I Don't Know How to Say No to Friends"
Instead of becoming a famous poker player, he was more often known for his generosity. He helped his friends whether it was staking deal or they just needed a loan to survive.
“I don’t know how to say no to friends,” Wright commented simply.
“He was always helping somebody out,” added WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla, “It was usually to his detriment because a lot of those people never paid him back.”
Times were different from his first move to Vegas and on his return Wright had to adjust how he played. There were new players in the game but he continued to have fun.
“There was Captain Tom (Franklin), Tom McEvoy and Kathy Liebert. I’ve really enjoyed playing with them and they’re tough, tough, tough,” Wright remembered.
“But as our older generation gets older it gets very hard to adjust to these young guns.”
No-Limit 2-to-7 Purest Skill Game at WSOP
It was against those young guns that Wright finally had his chance at WSOP gold. He made the $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball final table in 2012 but was up against bracelet-winners Michael Mizrachi, Brandon Cantu, Erick Lindgren and Rep Porter.
Wright was patient and finally defeated Cantu in front of a very partial crowd. Many of those in his corner cheering were those same people Wright helped throughout his life.
“That was fun; my whole family came in, a lot of friends,” Wright said. “It’s just blew me away.”
Wright has played well since and has the results to prove it. He has cashed nine times over the last two WSOP summers with only four of those in Lowball games. But No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven continues to be his game of choice.
“The No-Limits (Hold’em) are so hard, that’s why I enjoy these (NL 2-7).” Wright said, “They’re fun and it’s old school. To me it’s the purest skill game in all of the World Series of Poker.”
“And everybody I’ve played with, and watched me play, will probably agree there’s a huge amount of skill level involved. Fun game.”
Wright had nothing but compliments for his increasingly younger opponents at the table. He still thinks he has the edge in Deuce-to-Seven, even against the best.
“I always enjoy playing against all of the younger guys because they’re so creative in thinking,” Wright said.
“Phil Ivey, of course, is probably the best there is. He intimidated me but when I get him in this arena here, I think I intimidate him.”
Not a Fish in This Tournament
Wright is making a run at his second bracelet in the $10,000 No Limit Deuce-to-Seven event this year, getting deep and enjoying his time.
“There’s not a fish in the tournament,” Wright said with three tables remaining. “They’re all world-class.
"Of course, Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda both play the game very, very well. Every single person here plays the game well.”
Wright finished with some words of wisdom: “You just can’t be too cocky, you gotta be humble.”