A few months after the 1995 British Open I was in a very unknown and tiny little gambling town in Nevada called Wendover. Wendover is about 2 hours west of Salt Lake City on I80. It is a podunk little stateline gambling town with 4 casinos out in the middle of the Great Salt Lake’s “Salt Flats.” The Salt Flats is where many of the world land speed records have been set, and many car commercials.
So I’m out there gambling playing 21 at the $25 table at this podunk casino. I’m the highest roller in the place. I’m the only guy playing more than $2.
After an hour or two by myself at the $25 table guess who sits down next to me? JOHN FREAKING DALY. They immediately increase the table minimum to $500/hand, but since I was already there I was grandfathered into the table. JD played two hands at $500 per hand all night.
I turned to JD and casually said “hey, nice job at the British Open” and he said “thanks.” For the next several hours JD and I played blackjack together and “shot the s**t.” He was very cool and not cocky at all. I couldn’t figure out how big JD could end up in Wendover. He told me that his wife (2nd at that time I believe) was from this even more podunk town called Tooele (google it). When he would come into town to visit the wife’s family, he’d just drive to Wendover and gamble.
It was funny to watch JD because this was when he was just trying to quit drinking. He was a good boy. No booze at all that night. But he was smoking up a frenzy. He was so scattered at one point he had a lit cigarette in each hand.
When it was time for me to go to bed JD was still gambling away. After talking to him for 2-3 hours I felt too stupid to ask him for his autograph. So I said see ya later and he said “good luck” to me and that was it. I’m sure he’d recognize me if I ever met him again so I hope I do. He was cool.