RG TULSA Main Event (Day 1C): MONKEY ISLAND RANCHER
Level 6 (300/600/600)
Total Entrants: 110
If you had your pick of legendary poker players to gamble with, who would it be? Doyle Brunson? Amarillo Slim? Puggy Pearson? And if you could choose to go back to 1950's Texas for just such a game?
James Jennings (pictured) doesn't have to answer those questions as a hypothetical--he was there. As a 19-year-old poker player, Jennings played with the legends themselves in Ft. Worth, Texas.
"I've been playing poker all my life," Jennings says. "You know, back in the 1950's in rural America, there was no radio or television. Poker was a family pastime."
Asked about getting to sit down with Doyle Brunson and the old-guard Texas gamblers, he says, "When I was old enough, and had a good job, I saved up my money and I bought into those games. You'd need anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 just to get a seat."
The game of choice at the time was mostly five-card stud. Sometimes 5-card draw, often with hi-lo split.
Over the years, Jennings has worked in and owned businesses dealing in real estate, construction, and ranching. The Monkey Island resident still maintains 120 cows and calves on 200 acres on Grand Lake.
Between fishing (why else would you live on an island?) and poker, Jennings enjoys time with family, including nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
But (forgive us) we were more interested in the Ft. Worth games. "Oh, they had bigger games going, too. $40,000-$50,000 buy-ins. But I never got to sit in those games." He gives us a sly smile and adds, "I sure watched a lot of them, though."