The poker pioneer Oklahoma Johnny Hale died at the age of 92 at his home on 23rd December 2019. Oklahoma was born in September of 1927, in Pittsburg. In his youth, Hale served in the Navy during the Korean War and later worked as a home builder in Tulsa before switching his attention to poker.
He helped Beny Binion to popularize the WSOP (World Series of Poker) as well as taking parts in several times in WSOP events in his life where he earned a lot of cash many times. And though he hadn’t won an event, he was considered and honoured as the best overall player at the 1980 World Series. At that time, he had got a long list of cash in small-and mid-stake events, where his last cash came in April at a $200 tournament at the Wynn, in which he took $449 home.
Fondly remembered by everyone ‘Gentleman Gambler’
In his lifetime he has been awarded with a number of tributes from the poker world. Golden Nugget director of poker operations Andy Rich in his memory, wrote on Facebook. “I want to say Rest In Peace to a good friend of family, Oklahoma Johnny Hale.”
For his career in live tournament play, Hale won $502,240 with the largest cash of $48,565 coming in 1999 at the Orleans Open. In a rebuy event, Hale won the title earning $120 after defeating Men Nguyen in heads-up at a final table.
In his later time of life, he became the leading advocate for senior poker players, constantly playing in- and helping to organize and promote- senior events across the United States. Hale also worked as a columnist for CardPlayer Magazine for some time, where he wrote a biography titled “The Life and Times of a Gentleman Gambler.”
A longtime professional player and one of the strongest proponents of senior poker events was remembered fondly both as a person and a player.