Poker pot has apparently been prevalent in the professional poker scene for quite some time for marijuana’s relaxing benefits. Many prominent World Series of Poker players are now talking about their cannabis consumption even while playing cards with very high stakes.
Bryan Micon stood to address the table. “I am all-in! All-in table 153,” he announced, wagging his finger as if to warn his opponents, Don’t fuck with me.
The year was 2006. Millions of dollars were up for grabs at the biggest card tournament on the planet, the World Series of Poker main event.
The tournament was in its late stages, when the tension is palpable, when fame and fortune start to seem possible and when the real and surreal intertwine in the madness of the moment.
Micon, a veteran poker pro at the age of 27, was about to memorialize his winning hand by performing Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance to a national ESPN audience.
He held a seven-high straight, an unbeatable hand. As the dealer pushed a mountain of chips in his direction, it was showtime. With a throng of spectators watching, Micon broke into his version of the Thriller dance, swinging both arms up to the right and then to the left, making a claw with his hands, to resemble the dancing zombies in Jackson’s classic video. It was great TV.
“A friend of mine suggested I break it out, so I did,” he recalled. “To this day I can’t get through a daily tournament at the Aria without someone asking me about it. I got maximum exposure and great value out of that one.”
And now it can be revealed: Cannabis helped him do it.
He was high? Well, let’s call it elevated. Micon is now 36 and the holder of a medical marijuana card from the state of Nevada. These days he’s into Bitcoin and drone flying, and his website bryanmicon.com boasts the tagline “Still not working for the man.” He’s one of the many professional poker players who now feel free to talk about enjoying marijuana.
For some, cannabis is strictly a post-competition indulgence, a way to mellow out and cool down from the stress of the tournament. For others, though, it’s a way to stay calm and focused in competition, when every decision means the gain or loss of tens of thousands of dollars.
In early July, players and fans will flock to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the 48th annual World Series of Poker Main Event—the first WSOP Main Event to take place in Nevada’s legal retail cannabis era.
While most Vegas casinos are maintaining strict no-cannabis policies, clandestine consumption has always been a part of the scene on the Strip–regardless of whether it’s been legal, illegal, or somewhere in between.