Inside Willie Nelson’s Top-Secret Poker Game
Like Fight Club and hot dogs, you don't talk about Willie Nelson's poker game once you know what's inside. The country legend is ruthless at the poker table — just ask Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Jamey Johnson, Jack Johnson, the late Merle Haggard ... you see what we're getting at, people?
Jack Johnson actually shared a few secrets with Taste of Country, but he was nervous about it. "They have a very specific game they play that's got its own name," he says, looking over his shoulder, "and it's like weird little rules."
So it's not straightforward Texas Hold'em, as you might have heard, but Nelson is the Phil Ivey of the group. He mops the floor with his guests, partly because there is a fair amount of imbibing in his other favorite hobby, and the 85-year-old can hold his smoke like nobody else on God's sweet green earth. This is the subject of this week's The Secret History of Country Music, and you'll learn not only who once dropped $40K in a night, but which classic song was finished at the poker table. Did you know that's actually how Nelson and Haggard met?
Jack Johnson wrote a song about the experience called "Willie Got Me Stoned and Took All My Money" and shared a few of the real-life details about his night with the legend. His only win came when he had the worst hand at the table. That was good enough for a high-low split.
"He gave me some knuckles," Johnson says. "I didn't even know what was going on."
A few others spilled what it's like playing poker with Nelson during the Willie: Life & Songs of an American Outlaw in January 2019, but they took that whole Fight Club mentality a little more seriously. We can only pray things work out for Johnson — has anyone heard from him lately?
The Secret History of Country Music is a new weekly series hosted by Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar. We'll go deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Look for episodes about Brooks & Dunn and Miranda Lambert coming up, and be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
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