The 40th Annual World Series of Poker is only weeks away. Between now and the start of the Main Event BluffMagazine.com will be presenting the 40 Greatest Champions in WSOP history exclusively on WorldSeriesofPoker.com.
Brian “Sailor” Roberts is a two-time bracelet winner and won his Main Event bracelet in 1975. He earned his nickname from his time in the Navy where he served in the Korean War. Upon returning home Roberts set out to be a full time professional gambler. Born in the small Texas
town of San Angelo
, it made sense to him to return home looking to make his living in craps. It became readily apparent that San Angelo
was far too small a town to support his dreams, so he began to traveling around the state to play poker.
He toured the Texas Gambler’s Circuit for years traveling with Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim. The three set out to be the best high stakes poker players in the world. Together, they talked for hours about poker strategy and developed winning strategies that would be revealed in Brunson’s book “Super/System.” While traveling from town to town in Texas together they shared the same bankroll and traded thousands of dollars in prop bets with each other. While trio traveled from game to game they began booking sports bets.
After the 1961 Federal Wire Act, which made using phones for any type of gambling became illegal; Brunson and Slim stopped taking action. Roberts continued to book sports and subsequently spent a year in jail following a bookmaking conviction.
Upon his release Roberts moved to Las Vegas where he could bet sports all he wanted. Roberts quickly fell in with the Binion’s crowd and was routinely found at the high stakes poker tables. He won his first WSOP bracelet in 1974 in the $5,000 No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball event. Roberts also made one more appearance at the Main Event Final Table in 1982, finishing eighth.
Roberts passed away from sclerosis due to hepatitis. He is fondly remembered by most the old guard of poker for his generosity and willingness to always help a down and out gambler.