I do not want any of my fans to assume that it was recklessness, clumsiness or sheer stupidity that led to this sad turn of event. In fact, I had simply been a victim of circumstance, having run afoul of the Vegas traffic enforcement department on a number of occasions and therefore put on a highly restrictive "watch list" that required me to take a taxi everywhere, including grocery shopping. As you can imagine, this put a pretty serious crimp in my lifestyle. Fortunately, I can say that Las Vegas is one of the very best cities in the world when it comes to cab service.
But I was not the only one to suffer in America that year. Let us never forget the seven heroes who died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff. That was a genuinely traumatic moment for all Americans, yet one which only steeled our reserve to carry on in the face of adversity and honor the memory of those noble souls.
A similar display of determination permeated the World Series of Poker in 1986. Great champions like Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson, Bobby Baldwin and Stu "The Kid" Ungar had been unable in the past several years to reclaim the heights which had once been their province. No one with a realistic understanding of what the WSOP requires of a competitor thought any less of these players for the fact that they had been unable to recapture the championship. Nonetheless, you can be quite sure that each of these gentlemen - and a host of other seasoned competitors - felt an absolutely vital need to prove themselves by winning the main event in 1986.
Everyone in attendance at Binion's Horseshoe casino in downtown Vegas could feel the tension in the air. It permeated the entire tournament like a gas leak, setting everyone on edge and keeping the cocktail waitress even busier than usual. Yet, in the end, there was to be no return to glory by any of the previously proven champions. Instead, a new winner was named. He was a man known as Berry Johnston and he walked away from the WSOP with a huge grand prize of $570,000.
by Mason Raymond