Poker Hall of Famers: ‘Puggy’ Pearson

A special segment to remind you of true poker legends and their most memorable poker stories. Meet Walter Clyde Pearson (1929-2006) also called ‘Puggy’ Pearson.

image of Puggy Pearson

Ain’t only three things to gambling: knowing the 60-40 end of the proposition money management, and knowing yourself.”

‘Puggy’ Pearson

Where did he come from?

A true character of the poker world. Born in the hills of Tennessee. In a big family with 9 brothers and sisters. Crushed his nose in early teens and got his nickname ‘Puggy’ because of it.

Puggy was from a very poor family. Dropped out of school early to help make money and that’s how he described his childhood:

We were so poor that we had to move every time the rent came due. I didn’t know what shoes were until I left home.”

Puggy is a great example of how one can come from nothing and rise to the top of the poker world.

He joined Navy at the age of 17 and spent three terms there. That’s also where he perfected his poker skills. He said – “While everyone else was throwin’ their money on drink and women, I was organizing poker games”.

Even though Puggy didn’t have formal education, he was a very smart guy.

Father of ‘freeze-out’

The man moved to Las Vegas in 1963. He mostly played cash tables and very few tournaments, his reasoning behind it was because he was against winning all the money and then giving most of it back. He also said he would play tournaments, if one winner took it all.

With this mindset Puggy befriended Benny Binion (his Horseshoe casino brought the WSOP to the world) and suggested to him that the WSOP tournament become a freeze-out.

It’s where players are eliminated until there is just one player left winning all of the chips. Also, players are not allowed to re-buy or add-on. Once a player is out of chips, they are eliminated from the tournament.

Binion implemented Puggy’s thoughts to WSOP and it forever changed the appeal of the series.

The game

I’ll play any man from any land and any game he can name for any amount he can count…Provided I like it!”

Puggy Pearson won the world championship in 1973. That same year he also gained two other bracelets.  Overall he has 4 WSOP bracelets and was the second living person to be included into the Poker Hall of fame in 1987.

According to Doyle Brunson Puggy was fearless and aggressive at the tables. He also said Puggy was the greatest pressure putter he ever saw.

Let’s take a look at one of more memorable moments from WSOP between Puggy and ‘Sailor’ Roberts.

Sailor vs. puggy WSOP hand

The legend lives on

Pearson was a true poker character. He attended WSOP every year as either player or spectator often in costumes to entertain contestants.

In 1987 Pearson was included into the Poker Hall of Fame and, as Brunson says, “is acknowledged by his peers as one of the greatest poker players of all time”.

Pearson died in 2006 leaving a noticeable footprint in poker history and will forever be remembered as a great player and a father of freeze-outs.

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