The Making of a Poker Player

Brian owns a salvage yard in a rural community in South Carolina. He is a typical son of the South -- an admitted redneck with southern values who learned to play poker from his father when he was seven years old.

I met Brian on The Big M casino boat in Little River, an ocean community about 20 miles north of Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was one of 10 players who signed up to play the $2-5 no-limit Texas Hold'em game.

PokerPlayersSaloonRealDeal

Between hands we talked about his life. He remembers Doyle 'Texas Dolly' Brunson coming to Rock Hill, S.C. to play in big cash poker games with his father and some of the other locals.

When you live in a rural area, you have a lot of time to practice your game. Brian took poker seriously and has played in some major poker events over the years.

'I played against Phil Ivey and some of the other top poker players,' he said. 'Phil is a good player who deserves his reputation.'

Just like the NFL develops its football players in the farm country of the South and Midwest, the poker industry develops its players in the backwoods country. They practice in the small ante games until they feel they can play for cash and then step up in the ranks. Some make it, others don't.

A good poker player can find a home anywhere. In Brian's case, he has to drive several hours to get to poker country -- Cherokee, N.C., Charleston, WVA or maybe head down south to Jacksonville, FL From Jacksonville south, nearly every major coastal city has either a land-based casino or a cruise ship that provides all the gambling a person could want.

Poker players are like truck drivers or rodeo cowboys. They carry their bankrolls with them and know where the best games are. They have paid their dues and neither seek nor grant quarter to the other players.

I consider it an honor to play against America's poker players. It's an industry born in America and they give a good account of themselves at the poker tables. The federal government needs to recognize this and should step out of the way on the Internet gambling issue. Maybe the Bill of Rights should be rewritten to provide poker and other forms of gambling as a right to the taxpayers of this country. I'd vote for it.

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