Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Poker Stories Podcast With Jack McClelland

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Apr 24, 2019


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

To listen, visit or download it directly to your device from any number of mobile apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify. Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, Joe Cada, Freddy Deeb, and many more.

Age: 68
Hometown: McConnelsville, Ohio

After a brief stint as a professional bowler, Jack McClelland spent the rest of his career working in poker. He started out at the bottom cleaning ash trays and running chips before moving up the ladder to dealer, shift supervisor, and eventually tournament director.

McClelland spent more than three decades as one of the most respected figures in the industry, running tournaments all over the world. The Ohio-native was in charge of the World Series of Poker for most of the 80’s and 90’s, and made Bellagio one of the flagship casinos of the World Poker Tour from 2002 until he retired in late 2013. McClelland was inducted to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2014 alongside Daniel Negreanu.

Highlights from this interview include starving on the PBA Tour, from Russia not with love, learning cards from Grandma, moving to Vegas for the weather, the big games at the Sahara, breaking in at the WSOP, dealing with Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar, and the mob, the trouble with Sam Grizzle, heads-up penalties with Men The Master, Mrs. McClelland the bracelet winner, the lake in the middle of The Strip, his poker Mount Rushmore, a summer job at the copper factory, and the $300-$600 stud pot with Sarge Ferris that ended his playing career.

The Highlights

About His Experience As A High-Stakes Poker Player

JM: The biggest cash game I ever played in was $300-$600 stud. My late wife (Alma McClelland, a poker pro herself) liked to play higher, but one night we were up in Lake Tahoe and she was stuck. We didn’t have much money left, and she said, ‘Go play in that game and try to get me even.’

JR: How did it work out?

JM: I took Chip [Reese’s] seat. He was going to a bigger game. He said, ‘Good luck. You might never look back.’

Larry Flint was in the game, and Sarge Ferris, and some other different people. I think I bought in… I think I had $4,500, which is a big buy-in for $300-$600, (he said sarcastically)

JR: That’s not many bets.

JM: I got it up to about $14,000. We had started the trip with $20,000. I looked down at a hand and I was dealt three rolled up kings. Sarge limps with a deuce, somebody else comes in. Larry was raising every hand, so I just called and he raised. They all called and I re-raised. He reraised.

JR: You got them all stuck in the middle.

JM: We get them all in the middle. Larry catches a four-card straight, so we max out the betting again. The fifth card comes, nobody is looking too dangerous. Larry makes a pair with his four-card straight, so we jam it in again, five bets I think it was. At that point there were three of us in the hand. Me, Larry, and Sarge.

On sixth street, Sarge makes open aces. He caught one on four, and one on six. He bets, and I’m sick. I call, and Larry calls. On [the river], Sarge bets again, and I sweat and I sweat, and I call. Larry calls.

And Sarge turns over deuce, jack, ace, having made three aces. It was a $25,000, $30,000 pot.

JR: That’s a good kick in the gut.

JM: It wasn’t the going home pot, because I was going to keep playing. But it was the pot that might have made me a player. Because that is what I always wanted to do. So we had a bad trip, and went home, and I said, ‘Maybe I’ll look for a job.’ I went back and started working. ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.