LARRY PLAYS DEUCE TO SEVEN THE 'WRIGHT' WAY
June 17, 2012 - 06:07:25 PM EST
The Wright Way to Win a Gold Bracelet
Larry Wright Wins First WSOP Victory
Latest Champion Pledges Majority of Prize Money Winnings to Charity
Wright Defeats Stellar Final Table Lineup – Outlasts Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, Brandon Cantu, Rep Porter, and Erick Lindgren
22 of 29 Gold Bracelets Won By Americans – To Date
29 Gold Bracelets Won – 32 More at Stake!
Meet an Extraordinarily Kind and Generous Man Named Larry Wright
When Great Things Happen to Good People
Larry Wright has been coming to the World Series of Poker from his Texas ranch for nearly 40 years. You might have seen him around. He’s often sits in low- and middle-limit cash games. He occasionally plays a satellite or two, or perhaps a second-chance tournament. Once in a while, he even enters a gold bracelet event.
Larry wouldn’t normally stand out in any crowd, except for this one.
Perhaps you will recognize him. He’s almost always has a smile upon his face, a kind word for strangers, and even kinder word for his friends and associates, and occasionally a gift for those he believes warrant his generosity and trust.
Fact is, we wish there were more like him. We need more Larry Wrights. Many, many more. Not just in the poker world, but alas – the real world, too. We need a thousand Larry Wrights. We need a million Larry Wrights. We need more of his happiness. We need more of his kindness. We need more of his countless acts of charity.
Alas, Larry’s gift to us all is himself, and what a magnificent gift that is.
This extraordinary man won tonight’s Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball tournament, played out in all its glory at the Rio in Las Vegas. Four decades in the making, he finally collected his first career WSOP gold bracelet. He also earned six figures, his largest poker prize ever. But if you think this was about cards or chips or gold bracelets or prize money or any of the trappings of a championship victory on poker’s most glamorous stage, you would be wrong. You would be very wrong, indeed.
This victory was about rewarding righteousness. It was about bestowing victory on someone who was deserving of the honor. It was about proving that once in a great while, great things do happen to good people.
Over the years, Larry has helped half the poker world, it seems. If a line were to form consisting of all the poker players Larry has helped over the years, stanchions would be necessary. And judging by the huge turnout along the rail as he inched closer and closer to victory at tonight's final table, all those people Larry helped over the years were there to show their love and respect.
Numerous cases of personal restitution were displayed on this night. Many of them probably never re-paid Larry back a cent, nor could they. But they could give him something, and that was themselves and their presence at a time when Larry could glance over at the rail and see what he'd meant to them in their lives.
It was a final table stacked with big names. Brandon Cantu. Andy Lichtenberger. Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi. Erick Lindgren. Rep Porter. Ryan Tepen. But the loudest cheers were for the barefooted player sitting in the nine seat. Four former gold bracelet winners were drowned out by Larry’s loyal band of family, friends, and followers.
When he finally scooped the last pot of the tournament at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night and was assured of a long-awaited victory, Larry pumped his fist into the air. He ran over to his wife and dived into her adoring arms. He was swarmed by his daughter, a brother, and several well-wishers who engulfed the newest gold bracelet champion into a giant love hug.
It was a moment of celebration. It was a moment of exuberance. It was a moment of beauty.
So, who is this man? Why did this man bring out so much joy from others? What makes him special in the poker world?
Larry lives on a ranch with his wife of 40 years. He resides near a small town outside of San Antonio. He raises cattle. Deer roam free on his land.
Despite the big ranch and many acres, Larry would not call himself a rich man, at least in terms of actual monetary worth. But if wealth were measured by love and respect, Larry would be a Billionaire -- with a capital "B."
Just ask the former employees of his trucking company. Larry worked most of his life in the trucking business. He built up a fleet of trucks and specialized in shipping and transportation. When he turned 60, Larry decided he’d worked long and hard enough. He’d made enough money to be happy. So, he decided to give up his successful trucking company. He sold it. In fact, he sold it directly to his employees.
For how much?
Try -- $1.
That’s right, one dollar.
After a lifetime working 12 hour days, sometimes six days a week, Larry walked away from it all and gave up his life’s work over to the people he trusted most – the very people that had helped make him such a success.
But Larry’s acts of kindness do not start, nor do they end there.
Following this WSOP victory, Larry was joined by his wife on the stage inside the cavernous Pavilion. While a few thousand poker players were off in the distance competing for the next gold bracelet, Larry knew this was a very personal moment long in the making. The husband and wife spoke to reporters. The couple were not necessarily eager to publicize their intentions. They never brought up the subject. But during the course of the post-tournament celebration, someone from Larry’s family pulled a reporter aside and casually mentioned that most of the prize money would be going to another cause, outside the poker world.
When pressed for an answer, Larry reluctantly shared his plans for much of the prize money. Larry announced that he would donate the majority of the money to a religious charity that does missionary work in Africa. In a moment that seemed almost surreal in a room filled with incessant bloodthirsty competitiveness, Larry spoke of new housing and construction projects he's helped fund in the dire nation of Sudan. Sure, a faraway place. But a place very near and dear to Larry and his wife who made this one of a number of causes.
When asked to elaborate, Larry revealed that he did not consider the prize money to be his, per se. Larry called himself a steward of the money, which was intended for a more noble purpose.
And so, that’s Larry’s story – or at least a small part of what is most certainly a far more comprehensive compilation of good deeds that have helped others for many, many years.
After all the dealings been done, and after all the money’s been lost and won, and after all the gold bracelets have been displayed and put away, and after all the cameras are long gone, each of us will be left with what we are -- what we have become -- and what we have done. Larry will be able to look in the mirror and like what he sees. Were that a greater reflection of ourselves, imagine the possibilities.
For Larry Wright, this was a Father’s Day to remember.
Larry Wright Wins Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball (No-Limit) Championship
Las Vegas, NV (June 17, 2012) – Today, Larry Wright added his name to a prestigious list of Texans with a World Series of Poker victory. The part-time poker player and retired businessman from McQueeney, TX who started coming to the WSOP in the 1970s, triumphed in the Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball (No-Limit) tournament, which was completed today at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Wright topped a stacked tournament field of 285 players, including many of the world’s top pros, en route to his first gold bracelet victory. He pocketed $101,975 in prize money. Despite the six-figure score, the bankroll booster was secondary to the validation bestowed by winning poker’s ultimate prize.
The tournament was played over a three-day period. The final table included a powerhouse lineup – including four former WSOP champions. Brandon Cantu, who finished runner-up, was shooting for what would have been a third gold bracelet. Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi (4th) and Rep Porter (6th) were in a similar state as two-time winners, but came up short. Erik Lindgren, another former champ, ended up in fifth place.
MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – LARRY WRIGHT
Name: Larry Wright
Current Residence: McQueeney, Texas
Profession: Retired Businessman
Poker Status: Highly-Experienced Part-Time Player
Number of Years Attending WSOP: 37 (played the last 11)
Number of WSOP Cashes: 8 (plus 5 WSOP Circuit cashes)
Number of WSOP final table appearances: 1
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 8th (2008)
Total Career WSOP Earnings: $241,268
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: Larry, we’re going to ask you not about poker now, we’re going to talk about Larry Wright. Talk about your life, where you grew up, what you’re into, where you live, your family, give us your bio please.
Wright: I have a granddaughter that is about 16 months old. I have two beautiful daughters that are in their early thirties. The oldest daughter, I can’t beat her in poker. She’s awesome. My other daughter and my wife do not play at all. They say there’s plenty of gamble in us. We own a ranch in South Texas. We have a large ranch. We raise cattle, we have deer. My granddad and my dad, we’ve played poker forever. I did hear someone say that I have never played this game. But I started playing Razz in 1975. I did play Triple Draw in 1975. I played for about 5 to 8 years and then No-Limit started becoming popular. And then I met Tom McEvoy, and he basically changed my life. Got me into No-Limit. He introduced me to Kathy Liebert who I sponsored in a big tournament and she ended up winning a million dollars, and I was her backer in that. I had a financial arrangement and it was very nice for me. I haven’t looked back as far as poker goes. My wife has been a counselor for 17 years. She just retired, and they all came out for Father’s Day and what a beautiful Father’s Day. I have a large group from home here with me, and it’s been fun having them here too today.
Question: A lot of these people on the rail, they came up to several of us here and mentioned that you had helped them, not just backed them, but helped them through the years, and they wanted to be here for you.
Wright: That’s a toughie. I don’t know how to say no to friends. That’s tough.
Question: Speaking of the money, we heard that some of this money is going to go to a charity. Could you tell us about that?
Wright: The majority of this is going to the Sudan in Africa. We have a missionary friend and we’re going to sponsor a couple houses and a waterwell being built there. I said if I win an event, that’s where the money is going.
Question: How did you get involved with poker in the first place?
Wright: In Texas, poker is not legal, so we play a lot of friendly games. I don’t mind telling you that one of the guys that plays on late night poker, Teller, he’s the Deuce-to-Seven specialist and I bet I have twenty Texans trying to tell me his strategy, and his strategy has helped me a lot. ‘In fact, he’s a good friend of the Grinder’s and Erick Lindgren and they made me very comfortable today. I have been playing since I was 22-years-old. My whole life, I was a risk taker.
Question: Your friends were chanting “Do it the right way.” What was that all about?
Wright: Well, my last name is Wright and my trucking company was called Wright Way. So it’s kind of a play on words
Question: Talk about what it was like coming into this final table with all of the big names.
Wright: It kind of embarrassed me because they said that I have never made a final table before at the WSOP. In fact, Erik Seidel and I talked a lot yesterday. I think it was three years ago and I made the final table of the Pot-Limit Omaha and I think I got eighth place or something like that and Eric just dominated me at that final table. So, we talked about that….so this actually was my second final table in the World Series of Poker.
Question: You have fair amount of experience in the WSOP.
Wright: Right, this is my third cash this year. I bubbled two big events. In fact, I think I was in third or fourth place when I got knocked out in the five thousand. I flopped top set of jacks, and got a guy to bluff off his chips. I have a way of talking people into giving their chips to me. My South Texas good ol’ boy talk. Anyway, got him to bluff off his whole stack with ten-nine on a ten-jack-ace board. That was probably my saddest moment this year. I couldn’t beat him when he runs a straight. So, I was out of the five thousand with a big stack. This event here wasn’t that big but it was a who’s who field. I was pretty intimidated at every table. So I just stayed patient and it was almost like it was meant to be that I would win this on Father’s Day. It was meant to be.
ODDS AND ENDS
This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #30, since it’s the 30th gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer in Las Vegas. The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting on Friday at 5 p.m. and concluding on Sunday night.
The final table began at 2 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m. The total duration was about six hours.
The final table – consisting of eight players -- included four former gold bracelet winners. They were Rep Porter, Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi, Brandon Cantu, and Erik Lindgren.
Aside from the final table players, among the former gold bracelet winners who also cashed were – John Phan (9th), Konstantin Puchkov (11th), Eric Seidel (13th), Jennifer Harman-Traniello (19th), Hasan Habib (20th), Dario Alioto (24th), Scott Fischman (25th), and David Sklansky (33rd).
With his cash in this event, Eric Seidel now has 70 career in-the-money finishes. This currently ranks third all-time to Phil Hellmuth and Men “the Master” Nguyen.
About the author
: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over WSOP.com, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.
He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe
– where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.