About Bill Baxter
Most men in their 60s are looking forward to retirement and giving up their jobs, but not Billy Baxter. So far he's let retirement sail on by as he continues to play professional poker and make money betting.
Baxter, a father of three and husband for more than 30 years, is the picture of a successful gambler. And like many other poker legends, he began his career gambling in pool halls.
It was the summer after he turned 14 when Baxter discovered his talent for hustling money playing pool. He was helping out his mom with her insurance sales, and when she went to attend clients in other towns, she'd take him along for the ride and drop him off to watch a movie while she went to her appointments. It wasn't long before he discovered pool halls and swapped his afternoons at the movies for money-making games of pool, cashing in on his hustling skills wherever they went.
By the time he was 16, he was playing every day in Augusta and had saved about $5,000 of his winnings in a bank account. After he turned 18, Baxter was legally allowed to hang out in taverns and that's where he learned to play poker. He'd lose money at the poker tables, go find a pool hall where he could win some more money and then go and play more poker.
His luck and skill eventually grew and he was successfully playing for bigger stakes within a few years. At one point he even won part ownership of a casino in Augusta, called the Paisley Club, while playing poker and eventually went on to win the whole place from his partner.
With a little extra persuasion from the local police, Baxter eventually closed the casino and got heavy into sports betting and bookmaking. He did run roulette and blackjack games one last time out on a farm during the Masters golf tournament, and that's when the law really came down on him. The FBI and local government raided the makeshift casino and a few years later, after exhausting all his appeals, he served some time.
In the meantime, Baxter and his new wife Julie took a honeymoon trip to Hawaii in 1975 and ended up in Vegas, where they lived out of the Dunes Hotel for nine months while Baxter played poker in the casinos. It was there he met Major Riddle, Sid Wyman, Puggy Pearson and Doyle Brunson, as he went up against some bigger fish and worked on his game. That's also where he met Stu Ungar for the first time, after which the young New Yorker proceeded to clean him out of $40,000 playing gin rummy.
His preferred game was Deuce-to-Seven Draw and he ended up winning the WSOP $1,000 Deuce-to-Seven Draw event his first year in Vegas. He earned a second-place finish in the same event the following year and won it one more time before having to serve his nine month and 22 day prison sentence in the early 1980s.
Not a group to miss out on a good bet, his poker buddies Jack Binion and Doyle Brunson bet he couldn't lose 40 pounds while he was serving his time. Baxter returned to Vegas 43 pounds lighter and $5,000 richer.
Baxter has said his biggest mistake was getting into trouble and having to serve time - if he hadn't, he probably would have opened up a casino in Vegas with his seven-figure bankroll.
Poker playing and gambling were just as generous to Baxter after his jail time though. Local poker games as well as tournaments have helped fill his pockets, and he now has seven WSOP bracelets for wins in Deuce-to-Seven Draw, Ace-to-Five Draw, and Razz.
His latest successes, however, have been in Texas Hold'em, which he has been playing more and more over the last several years. In fact, you could even say that he's beginning a second poker career as he only started playing Hold'em a few years ago and still cashes fairly consistently in tournaments.
Baxter said he's having to learn Hold'em the hard way, just like everyone else, but right now he's enjoying it more than the sports betting, which he usually relies on to make most of his money. Unfortunately the money in Hold'em isn't nearly as good for his bankroll as his earnings in sports betting, but Baxter finds Texas Hold'em fun and challenging, and gets more satisfaction out of making money from his own skills and play rather than from the play of others.
|16||$7,663.00||WSOP 2010 - Event 7 - $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit)|
|7||$15,053.00||2008 WSOP - Event 40, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit)|
|59||$8,971.00||2008 WSOP - Event 5, No-Limit Hold'em w/re-buys|
|64||$39,570.00||WPT Season 6 - WPT World Championship|
|3||$20,000.00||WPT Season 6 - WPT Celebrity Invitational|
|136||$58,570.00||2007 WSOP - Event 55, World Championship No-Limit Texas Hold'em|
|26||$13,115.00||WPT Season 6 - Mandalay Bay Poker Championship|
|20||$27,941.00||2006 WSOP - Event 6, No-Limit Hold'em|
|82||$3,790.00||2006 WSOP - Event 5, No-limit Hold'em Short Handed, 6/table|
|46||$6,550.00||2005 WSOP - Event 33, $3,000 No-limit Hold'em|