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John Hardie Moss was born in the poor prairie town of Marshall Texas in 1907. His mother died when he was barely a year old. His father had a leg amputated after an accident when Moss was just five years old and was unable to work. Moss made a living at dice before he was fifteen. "We didnt have money and I decided to get me some one way or the other. Thats all, not for me, for my family. There wasnt much easy money in Texas in them days and gambling was a way out."
In 1925 he married Virgie Ann and aged just nineteen he took to the road as a professional poker player. Despite his winnings during those depression years, Moss had lows, losing the money for his wifes room in hospital in a poker game the night before she gave birth to his only child Eleoweese. His daughter was born at home and Moss had to act as midwife.
In 1949 Moss played Nick the Greek Dandolos in probably the most famous poker match in history. A five month long poker marathon where the two played virtually every game that existed at the time. The game, set up by Benny Binion, cost Dandolos anywhere from $2 million to $4 million. At the end of the marathon, down millions of dollars, Dandolos uttered what has become one of the most famous poker quotes ever, "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go."
In 1968 Moss had been on the road playing poker for fifteen years straight before retiring. His retirement was short lived and he returned to poker shortly afterwards. Moss won the 1970, 1971, and 1974 World Series of Poker main events, tying him with Stu Ungar for the most WSOP main event titles. For the 1970 event, In the finest act of respect, Moss was actually elected the champion by his peers and received a silver cup as his prize. He played at every WSOP from 1970 to the 1995 World Series and during his career he won 8 WSOP bracelets and over $680,000 in tournament play.
The starting hand Ace-Ten is named the Johnny Moss in his honor. Moss was sometimes called the Grand Old Man because of his longevity and superior play.
"In them old days in East Texas there were alot of cheaters. They always tried to take my pot, even when I'd won it fair and square. They'd say What do you have to take this pot? and I'd say 'two sixes' and pull out my six guns."
Moss died in Las Vegas in 1997 at the age of 89.
and "Fast Company" by Jon Bradshaw.