Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

WSOP: History -- 1985 Recap

Bill Smith Defeats T.J. Cloutier Heads Up for the World Championship


The World Series of Poker in 1985 featured one of the first prolonged money bubbles in the history of the tournament. Any one of the final ten players refused to go silently into the night and money-bubble action went on for five hours. Part of the reason these players dug in so much on that bubble was because the field had grown to 140 players that year, and no one who had to fight through that field wanted to leave empty handed.

One player who took full advantage of this period of play was Bill Smith. Smith moved all in three times big slick, and each time A-K held up for him. He doubled up a fourth time through Gary Lundgren, when he made a set of 10s against him. Lundgren had only made a pair of kings and he was knocked down to 1,000. That final amount went all in on the next hand for Lundgren and of course it was Smith who finally sent him to the rail with pocket queens over Lundgren’s K-8. Smith had used the money bubble to effectively toss his hat back into championship contention.

Smith was joined at the final table by Johnny Moss, John Fallon, Mark Rose, Jesse Alto, Hamid Dastmalchi, Scott Mayfield, Berry Johnston, and T.J. Cloutier. The majority of those men were from Texas, including Smith, but the first stages of the table were unkind to the Texans when Fallon made his exit in ninth place. Rose was the next Texan to hit the rail in eighth place and he was followed to the rail by the Texas road gambler who started it all. Moss was eliminated in seventh place, and he received a standing ovation reminiscent of the one's that Doyle Brunson garners today when he busts out of the main event. Everyone at the final table had taken a moment to recognize a legend in the twilight of his career.

After "The Grand Old Man of Poker" was gone, it was the original Texas hothead Alto who missed yet another chance at the championship. Alto held aces up and the lead on the flop against Mayfield, but Mayfield spiked a 3 on the turn to send Alto reeling out of the tournament. Johnston disposed of up-and-coming star Dastmalchi next in fifth, and Mayfield was knocked out next in fourth.

T.J. Cloutier The table was down to three and Smith now had to fight through two formidable opponents to win the world championship. In his way stood Johnston and Cloutier, two legends of the game in their own right, although neither had yet to win the world championship themselves. Smith did have a lead on his side with 918,000, while neither of his opponents held more than 300,000. Cloutier was the most aggressive to start things out and he took down two nice pots before tangling with Johnston in another. Cloutier moved all in preflop with A J and Johnston called him down with A K. The board ran out K J 4 J and Cloutier made trip jacks to eliminate Johnston in third place after no help came on the river for Johnston.

Bill SmithCloutier took a lead into the heads-up match with his friend and fellow Texan Smith, holding 952,000 to Smith’s 448,000. Smith crept back into the match and the two players were almost even when the penultimate hand of the match came down. Cloutier moved all in preflop with pocket nines, but Smith woke up behind him with pocket kings. The huge pot was worth 1.22 million, and Smith took it down. Cloutier was knocked down to 178,000 after the hand. Cloutier was down, but not out, and he rallied to build his stack back up to 300,000. On the final hand, Smith raised to 40,000 with pocket threes. Cloutier reraised all in with A-3 and Smith made the call. The board was dealt 5-5-9-5-K and Smith hit a full house to win the world championship. Despite his success, Smith was yet another of the poker world's elite to fall to vices of his own design. Although he made the final table again the next year, he never regained championship-caliber success before his death in 1996.

1985 WSOP Results

WSOP history article links:

Preludes - 1970 - 1971 - 1972 - 1973 - 1974 - 1975 - 1976 - 1977 - 1978 - 1979 - 1980 - 1981 - 1982 - 1983 - 1984