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5 Greatest Poker Players of the 1980s Jack Keller

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Born in Tunica, Mississippi on December 29th, 1942, Jack Keller first caught the poker bug while playing with his colleagues in the US Air Force. After leaving the USAF, Keller opted to move to Las Vegas to chase his dream of playing poker professionally. It would prove to a wise decision.

Jack Keller - Résumé

World Series of Poker

Event

Year

Event

1984

$5,000 Seven Card Stud (WSOP)

1984

$10,000 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship (WSOP)

1993

$1,500 Limit Omaha (WSOP)

Super Bowl of Poker

Year

Event

1987

$10,000 Texas Hold'em

1991

$10,000 Texas Hold'em

Jack Keller Factfile

  • Jack Keller was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1993
  • Daughter Kathy Kolberg is also a poker professional 
  • Keller was in the US Air Force before turning pro

Turning Pro

While serving in US Air Force, Jack Keller could only have dreamed of winning the No-Limit Hold'em World Championship at the WSOP, never mind entering the Poker Hall of Fame. But after his departure from the Air Force, he took the decision to move to Vegas in order to pursue those dreams.

Although he had always been more of a cash game player, Keller took to poker tournaments like a duck to water. His finest hour came in 1984, when he not only took down the $5,000 Seven Card Stud WSOP bracelet for a total of $137,500, but he went on to win the No-Limit Hold'em Main Event at the same series.

Keller was involved in one of the most bizarre bad beat stories in poker history. In a heads-up hand against Todd Brunson, his opponent held the AK of diamonds. After a flop containing the Queen and Jack of diamonds, followed by the 10 of diamonds on the turn, Keller stood to congratulate his opponent on winning the tournament in such spectacular fashion. But when the river card brought the second Jack of diamonds, the hand was declared void. Todd's father Doyle said, "I had never seen anything like that, and still haven’t to this day!"

Gentleman Jack

A real poker all-rounder, all three of Jack Keller's World Series of Poker bracelets came in different games. Keller also made deep runs in several non-No Limit Hold'em events at the WSOP during the 1980s, including runner-up finishes in Limit Omaha, No Limit Ace to 5 draws, and two Limit Hold'em events.

But it wasn't just the WSOP in which Jack Keller found success. In the days when Amarillo Slim's Super Bowl of Poker was considered the second most prestigious event, Keller was crowned champion twice; first in 1987, before being crowned the last ever SPOB Main Event winner in 1991.

His final WSOP cash came in the 2001 series, a month after winning the Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica, in what would be his final major tournament success. Two years later in 2003, the man they called "Gentleman Jack" passed away from liver complications.

Jack Keller - Bottom Line

"Gentleman" Jack Keller was a World Series of Poker Main Event champion and two-time winner of the Super Bowl of Poker, who earned just under $4 million in tournament winnings throughout his career. A true legend of the game, Keller was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1993.

 

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