If Huckleberry Seed isn't an all-time great name for a poker player, we don't know what is.
The 1996 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Seed has been a fixture - and a very noticeable one at that, given his height - in the poker world for well on 25 years now.
While he's always been an upbeat and refreshingly funny guy at the tables, he's also been content to sit back, shut up and let his game speak for itself. But it might be in his extraordinary prop bets where he really lets his personality shine the most.
Earlier in life, however, the Montana native had designs on becoming an electrical engineer, and put his natural math proficiency to the test at the California Institute of Technology upon graduating from high school.
But like many a gambler before him Seed knew he wouldn't last in the hallowed halls of academia. So he opted for the decidedly less revered gambling halls of California and Nevada.
The pairing was near perfect. Seed won regularly and on his first visit to the World Series of Poker in 1990 he placed fourth in Limit Hold'em and Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo events.
Steadily, Seed cashed in tournament after tournament the following years and pocketed what would have been his annual salary as an engineer several times over.
Then Came the WSOP
Then came the 1994 World Series. The event would mark Seed's first gold bracelet in Pot-Limit Omaha and more than $240,000 in tournament winnings. If the 1995 WSOP Main Event was a disappointment - he placed 265th overall - then his performance at the 1996 championship more than made up for it.
That year, in honor of his $1 million Main Event win, Seed's picture joined those of poker's legends on Binion's Wall of Champions. Just 27 at the time, Seed brought years of professional poker experience, a composed demeanor and unforgiving card play to the final table where he defeated runner-up Bruce Van Horn.
In what would be the ultimate hand Van Horn raised pre-flop with a suited K-8; Seed said he'd be his Huckleberry and called with the 8-9 of diamonds. When the board came down 9-8-4 he bet, Van Horn re-raised and Seed pushed.
With both men all-in, the turn brought a worrisome ace that added a flush draw to Van Horn's list of outs. A blank on the river, however, awarded Seed instant millionaire status and assured him a place in poker history.
At that time, the game didn't enjoy its current popularity and the win was a coup for Seed, who said poker players were just considered gamblers trying to make names for themselves.
"Back then you couldn't even tell people you were a professional poker player, because they would just give you a weird look and stop talking to you," Seed told PokerListings.com at the 2006 WSOP.
"Now you're a giant celebrity, everyone's chasing you, and you're on TV."
Huck Seed: The King of Prop Bets
Indeed, today it would be hard for him to remain incognito. In poker rooms filled with hard-earned pot bellies parked on laps, he stands a gangly 6'7" tall.
Add to that an unusual name (he prefers to be called Huckleberry, thank you) paired with a furtive table presence and Seed makes for a distinctive player.
His eccentric and well-documented proposition bets with fellow poker players have only raised his profile.
Among the most famed of Seed prop bets is a wager with Phil Hellmuth. With $50,000 at stake Seed bet he could stand in the ocean (in a wetsuit ofc.) for 18 hours. He lasted only three.
Other prop bets were more successful, though; Seed bet he could master a standing back flip within six months and, true to his word, he pulled it off half a year later.
He also cleaned up on a bet he couldn't break 100 on a desert golf course five times in one day using just a five iron, sand wedge and putter. Even though Seed had to complete the feat on a blistering 120 degree day, he won the bet after six rounds.
Less physically taxing was Seed's wager that he wouldn't shave his beard for a full year. But, approaching jungle-man proportions following several months without putting cheek to razor, one of Seed's relatives died, and he sheared the beard to look respectable for the funeral.
He's continued to make plenty of notable prop bets over the years, not the least of which include:
- Running a mile in under 4:40 (he ran 4:47)
- Running a mile backwards in under 10 minutes
- Bet $5,000 he wouldn't shave until he won another WSOP bracelet
He was rumored to have wanted to participate in a $1m prop bet where he lived in a dark bathroom for a month but we're fairly certain it never came to fruition. Still, we'd hesitate to bet against Huck Seed in any prop bet.
Perpetual Favorite & Potential Hall of Famer
Though his presence on the tournament trail isn't as dominating as it was earlier in his career, Seed still makes a comfortable living at the poker table.
He has cashes at every WSOP up to 2016 (he's played 27 years in total) and 4 total career bracelets. All told has $7.6m in career tournament earnings in the WSOP and beyond - and impressive number beyond his first big $1m score in 1996.
Despite his reputation for being one of the top No-Limit Hold'em players in the world, Seed's fourth bracelet came in the Razz event in 2003 - a year that saw Seed hunkered over five WSOP final tables.
In recent years Seed has spent more time milking the lucrative cash games in Vegas around the WSOP but don't be surprised if he pops up in the Main Event and more any year. Don't be surprised if he wins another bracelet, either.
Will he be voted into the Poker Hall of Fame (he was nominated in 2018) for his career exploits? We wouldn't bet against that either.
What gives Seed his perpetual edge at the poker table or in heart-stopping prop bets? Well, if you ask him, it's because he's the Ice Man.
"I just rise to the occasion," he said. "The bigger the money, the more pressure, that's when I can focus the best and be more calm and relaxed."
"That's a good way to be in poker; the more pressure there is, the more you relax."