Dan Harrington‘s silver hair and friendly smile hide the cutthroat game that he literally wrote the book on. The former Main Event champ doesn’t exactly blend into the Day 1B field thanks to the very familiar, if not somewhat run down, green Boston Red Sox hat he’s known for.
He captured audiences’ attention during the early poker boom when he made back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Event final tables in 2003 and 2004.
Harrington joined the crowd for Day 1B – one of the few events he still plays. “Well, I retired about seven years ago, so I’m playing a much lighter schedule,” he said. “This year I played more events than I have for the last few years. I played one event before this and now the Main.”
“A lot of years I just play the Main Event,” he added. I’m not playing for fun, I just play a lot less events.”
His Harrington on Hold’em series of books are among the best selling strategy books of all time. He has no less than eight books dealing from tournament play, cash games, modern tournament poker and Six Max games.
Even with three Main Event final tables and one title, Harrington has high standards. “This tournament will only be a success if I make the final table again,” he said. “That’s the only goal.”
Harrington’s warped hat with a crooked bill has been flattened by a suitcase countless times but it’s the original hat that brought him luck years ago. There’s been a couple versions of the hat, “But this is the one that brought me all the luck,” he said.
Last year, Mark Newhouse made the final table for a second year in a row. That feat was often compared to Harrington’s and Newhouse answered questions about Harrington for months leading up to the final table play down. Harrington thinks what Newhouse did was impressive and notes a pretty important difference from his back-to-back run.
“It was pretty impressive with the huge fields – he had a lot more people to go through.”
Harrington’s combined fields from ’03 and ’04 was 3,415 players; Newhouse’s combined fields form ’13 and ’14 was 13,035. “I think his feat was more difficult obviously,” Harrington added. “It’s too bad he didn’t go a bit further – he deserved it.”
Harrington’s retirement limited his WSOP results over the past several years. He still cashed four times in the last 11 years – including 252nd place in the ’09 Main Event.
With the bulk of his playing days behind him, Harrington hopes he’s done enough to have a lasting legacy.
“I hope people just remember that I’m a decent poker player that I did well in poker tournaments.”
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