From chip leader 3 left to player-out with two all-ins in the blind: the most incredible tilt of the WSOP Main Event

Tilt can be a player’s worst enemy at the table.

A mind that is not properly centered can lead to unspeakable nonsense.

What we’re about to share is probably the biggest ever seen in a tournament of tournaments, the WSOP Main Event.

The situation

It was 1984 and the World Series Main Event was being held at Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Vegas. Of the 234 participants, three stayed in the game: Jesse Alto and Cowboy Wolford, two longtime players on the scene at the time, and newcomer Jack Keller, who just a week earlier had clipped the first WSOP bracelet of his career to his wrist. Winning the $5,000 buy-in Seven Card Stud event for a first coin of $137,500.

Third place in this year’s Main Event paid $132,000, second place $264,000 and the winner received $660,000. Organizer Jack Binion had decided to have players enter with crisp bills instead of chips and the scenic effect was truly remarkable.

The tournament seemed to be in the hands of Jesse Alto (photo below title playing heads-up against Doyle Brunson from the 1976 WSOP Main Event), who opened almost every hand in berserk mode. Eventually, Alto found himself with almost a million of the $1.32 million total dancing on the table at the time.

For him, after a second and a fifth place in the WSOP Main Event, the moment of victory seemed to have come. But fate had other plans. Once another Alto opening was called by Cowboy Wolford in the big blind. The player will then say that he decided to call because he was tired of his opponent’s friend’s constant advances…

Byron “Cowboy” Holford

Jailbird the cliff shown

On flop Ak9 Cowboy leads $15,000 hoping to make a strong hand, but Jesse doesn’t believe him and calls.

At the turn K Cowboy bets again, $40,000, and Alto calls again.

On 2 River Cowboy put his last $101,000 in the pot to go all-in. Alto goes into the tank, we understand he has a strong hand but probably not so strong.

Eventually he decides to throw his cards in the dirt and Cowboy in a fit of glee shows his cards on the table which are a 5 and a 3!

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The crowd cheers Cowboy, but for Jesse Alto, it’s the beginning of the drama.

“I couldn’t get over it – Alto later said – We’re lifelong friends with Cowboy. Anytime he needed something he came to me, so taking that bluff away from him at that point in the tournament literally blew me away. I have nothing to say about him winning the hand, I just wish he wouldn’t show me his cards. If he had just mucked his cards, everything would have been fine.”

All in blind three left

As can be seen from these words, Alto blamed the hit: in the following hand he went all-in without even looking at the cards, and it was Jack Keller who benefited and doubled.

The very next hand, the script repeated itself: Alto went all-in “in the dark”, Keller, who had overwhelmed him with chips at the time, called and eliminated him from the tournament.

From mega chip leader to three-handed player for his friend’s bluff, if you want someone to understand how much money Tilt can burn, there’s no better example.

The Keller Affair

But that’s not all, because this incredible story also has a story within a story. Keller went heads-up with a large chip lead and in the final hand of the tournament, Byron ‘Cowboy’ Wolford helped him by moving all-in for 64 on flop 965.

Jack called with pocket tens and 8s contact j River got his hands on the WSOP Main Event. Just two years earlier, Keller had sold his body shop in Philadelphia to move to Las Vegas to try his luck.

A player with incredible business acumen considering Keller played 50% of the Main Event and only spent $200 to buy in!

It happened that when Keller won the Seven Card Stud event, he almost completely sold his promotion and didn’t have the money to enter the Main Event. He now considered the hypothesis closed until a friend offered to pay him $9,800 to enter the main event in exchange for 50% of the price.

Jack sold more of his 50% interest: it’s estimated that he still had about $280,000 in his pocket from the $660,000 for winning the 1984 WSOP Main Event. no costs!

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