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Billy Baxter

 

Billy Baxter Billy Baxter is one of the most influential poker players of all-time. Even though he is best known for his on-table poker accomplishments, Billy is also recognized as the man who took on the IRS in court 20 years ago. Back then, Baxter claimed that his gambling winnings were legitimate earnings and not “unearned income” like interest or dividends, which are taxable at the highest rate. The judge’s ruling was that Billy’s poker winnings should be classified as “earned income” contrary to its previous classification of “unearned income” which was taxable up to 70 percent. Nowadays, those earning a living as gamblers across the United States pay regular tax at the appropriate rate.

Billy was born in 1940 in Augusta, Georgia. He married his wife Julie in 1975, and they have three children. Like many other poker legends of his age, Billy began his career gambling in pool halls. When he was 14, he discovered he had a talent for hustling pool games, and by the time he was 16, he had saved about $5,000 of his winnings in a bank account. When Billy turned 18, he was legally allowed to head to the taverns, where he learned to play poker. Within a few years, Baxter was successfully playing for bigger stakes - he even won part ownership of a casino in Augusta called the Paisley Club, and he eventually went on to win the whole place from his partner.

The local police persuaded Billy to close the casino, so he got into sports betting and bookmaking, although he did run roulette and blackjack games one last time out on a farm during a Masters Golf Tournament. That day the law came down on him: the local government along with the FBI raided his improvised “casino” and a few years later, after exhausting all his appeals, Billy served a nine month and 22 day prison sentence in the early 1980s.

In the meantime, Billy and his new wife Julie took a honeymoon trip to Hawaii in 1975. On the way back they ended up living out of the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas for nine months while Billy played poker for a living. It was there that he met Doyle Brunson, Puggy Pearson, Sid Wyman, Major Riddle and eventually Stu Ungar. Billy’s preferred game and specialty is Deuce to Seven Draw: he ended up winning the World Series of Poker $1,000 Deuce to Seven Draw event in 1975 (his first year in Vegas), and he won it one more time in 1978.

Billy Baxter has seven World Series of Poker bracelets for wins in Deuce to Seven Draw, Ace to Five Draw and Razz. Baxter also backed Stu Ungar from 1990 on. Billy has been playing more Texas Hold’em over the last several years; in fact, his recent accomplishments have been in Hold’em. He usually relies on sports betting to make most of his money but he still enjoys Texas Hold’em. Billy Baxter was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in the summer of 2006.