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This Sunday marks the finale of the WSOP for Life promotion. You can win entry to the WSOP Main Event every year for ‘life’! Here, PartyPoker ambassador Mike Sexton recalls one of his favourite WSOP memories.

Mike SextonBecause I had moved to Vegas after the 1984 WSOP, 1985 was the first year I was at the WSOP from start to finish.

I was mesmerized watching the entire main event. I was in the front row for the final table. When it was down to three players, it was T.J. Cloutier, Berry Johnston, and Bill Smith (who had never stopped drinking Budweiser’s all day).

I was amazed at how well Berry Johnston took that beat

Smith had the chip lead and T.J. and Berry were pretty close in chip count. T.J. raised, Berry re-raised, Smith folded, and T.J. went all-in and was called.

They turned up their cards and T.J. had an A-J, while Berry had A-K. The flop was A-7-2, and a Jack came on the turn, allowing T.J. to outdraw Berry, win the hand, and knock Berry out of the tournament.

It was a BRUTAL beat at a crucial time, yet I was amazed at how well Berry Johnston took that beat. He grimaced slightly when the Jack popped up, but didn’t whine or moan at all. Afterwards, he simply stood up, shook both their hands, and wished them well.

(Bill Smith won the tournament a few hands later when all the money went in pre-flop. Smith had two 3’s and T.J. had A-3 suited and the three’s stood up.)

I’m hungry. Can we go get something to eat?

I happened to be sitting right next to Berry Johnston’s wife and as he came over, she said, “Are you out now honey? I’m hungry. Can we go get something to eat?”

Well, I knew Berry knew she wasn’t really aware of what just happened and that he wanted nothing more than to go throw up at that moment, but he said, “Sure, sweetheart, we’ll go eat if you want to.”

I’ve never seen a guy handle defeat with such class. But here’s the best part of the story – the very next year (1986), Berry Johnston came back and won the world championship!

Sometimes, justice does prevail. I always felt Berry Johnston deserved that win because of the dignity and class he showed the previous year.


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