Bob Hooks, Who Managed the First WSOP, Passes Away

7 years ago
Bob Hooks Passes Away
23 Jun


Robert ‘Bob’ Hooks, who played in the original World Series of Poker event almost half a century ago, has passed away at the grand old age of 86, leaving behind a legacy which stretches beyond the green felt.

One of the pioneering Texas road gamblers, who plied his trade across the state and often beyond, Hooks was a man of many stories – having been a college footballer, a soldier, a rancher and a family man, as well as having a career in poker which saw him count fellow legends Johnny Moss and Doyle Brunson as friends and mentors.

When he made his way to Las Vegas, it wasn’t long before he became the manager at Binion’s Horseshoe casino, and also worked at Steve Wynn’s Golden Nugget Casino. His biggest poker scoop came in 1975 when he reached heads-up in the Main event against Brian “Sailor” Roberts.

Although he lost out and was supposed to go home empty-handed in the winner-takes-it-all event, the two players had agreed to chop the $210,000 prize money – something WSOP boss Benny Binion didn’t know about.

As a player, Hooks finished runner-up to his roommate, Brian “Sailor” Roberts, in the 1975 WSOP Main Event. Back then, the tournament was played with a “winner-take-all” prizepool, and Roberts ultimately emerged victorious to capture the entire $210,000 prize. Unbeknownst to Binion, however, the two had struck a deal to split money – although neither of them wanted the title!

In a strange-sounding but apparently common occurrence in the WSOP’s early years, having the title of champion wasn’t only NOT a guarantee of riches as it is today, but most certainly an invitation for the IRS to come calling! In 1972, Amarillo Slim was ‘awarded’ the title because he was the only one who found it glamorous!

In any event, Bob Hooks was a man who was full of legendary poker tales, of mafia men and drugs and poker deals and famous faces – the 1970’s in Vegas was a colourful place indeed.

Yet away from the casinos, Boob Hooks was at heart a family man (he never received pay for working at Binion’s, it was all sent directly home to his wife and four children) who loved nothing more than cooking and ranching – a far cry from the glitzy but sometimes dangerous world of gambling.

His obituary this week states that:

He was known for his culinary talents and nothing brought him more joy than to be able to cook for his family. Anything he made got a five-star rating ranging from his biscuits and gravy, to ‘Papa’s chili’ to his chicken and dumplings, all of which were favorites of his grandkids.”

It continued:

Robert was a gregarious man full of life, joy and love for his family. He cherished family time when all could be brought together to laugh, cook, tell stories and spend quality time together.”

Robert ‘Bob’ Hooks passed away on Saturday 18th June – and with him goes a part of poker history. Nominated for the Poker Hall of Fame back in 2014, (which saw the then 84-year old having a Twitter account!) he was unsuccessful, but perhaps next year will see the Road gambler get his just reward for a lifetime of poker lived to the full.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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