Poker Community Responds To Send Terminal Brain Cancer Patient To WSOP Main Event

Written By Martin Harris on November 3, 2021

It has been a challenging year for poker player Michael Graydon of Alabama. The past participant in World Series of Poker Circuit and WSOP events learned in March he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

Earlier this week, Graydon shared the news on Twitter. In doing so, he also described a plan to play in the 2021 WSOP Main Event. The $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino begins Nov. 4.

In order to participate, Graydon sought to sell a majority of his action at no markup, meaning those who bought pieces would stand to win the same percentage of his winnings should he cash.

Graydon sent his tweet late at night, close to 2 a.m. ET. Response to it was both fast and voluminous, convincingly confirming two things about poker players.

One, they keep late hours. And two, they can be incredibly generous and supportive of others in the community.

Poker community to cover buy-in, air fare, accomodations

Within minutes, dozens responded to Graydon with messages of encouragement and offers to buy up Graydon’s WSOP Main Event action. Offers to cover Graydon’s air fare to Las Vegas and his accommodations while there came as well. Phil Galfond offered a free membership to his Run It Once training site, too, to help improve Graydon’s game.

Among the tweets flooding in was one from high-stakes pro MJ Gonzales. He had an alternative suggestion for Graydon and the others responding:

Graydon did get in contact with Gonzales, who meanwhile spoke with fellow poker player Jonathan Depa. Depa offered to cover half the cost along with Gonzales.

Exactly two hours after sending his initial tweet, Graydon was tweeting again to report the good news (and his gratefulness to the poker community) — he will be heading to Las Vegas to play the Main Event.

Delayed 2021 WSOP continues forward, looks ahead to Main Event

According to Graydon’s profile on the Hendon Mob tournament tracking site, he has a couple of cashes in WSOP Circuit events, the most recent coming in 2019.

Graydon has played the WSOP Main Event at least once before, also in 2019.

After canceling its live series in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSOP delayed this year’s series until the fall. The 88-event live series began Sept. 30 with more than 50 bracelets having already been awarded.

Players must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to participate in WSOP live events. They must also wear masks while inside the Rio, although can remove them when seated at the tables.

Meanwhile, the WSOP is currently running a series of online bracelet events for players at WSOP Nevada and WSOP New Jersey. Thus far five online bracelets have been awarded since early October, with six more online events scheduled through November.

Additional starting flights should help increase Main Event size

Earlier this month, the WSOP added two additional Day 1 flights to the Main Event schedule. That brings the total number of starting flights up to six, the most ever in the history of the event.

The extra starting flights were added in response to the US announcing vaccinated international travelers could begin entering the country without having to quarantine for two weeks starting Nov. 8. The two additional flights, scheduled for Nov. 8 and 9, should enable some international players to participate who might not have otherwise been able to do so.

They’ll all join Graydon to comprise a field of thousands vying for what should be a whopping first prize. In 2019, winner Hossein Ensan topped a field of 8,569 players to win $10,000,000. A scaled-down, online-live hybrid version of the Main Event in 2020 saw champion Damian Salas win just over a quarter million.

Graydon shared more good news on his Twitter feed on Wednesday from his latest hospital visit. New brain scans show no new growth and positive effects from radiation treatment, which on a day filled with good news was the best of all.

Best of luck to Graydon next week and good wishes for him and his family going forward.

Photo by AP / John Locher
Martin Harris Avatar
Written by
Martin Harris

Martin Harris is a writer and teacher who has reported on poker, online gambling, and sports betting since the mid-2000s. Once a full-time academic (Ph.D., English), he currently teaches part-time in the American Studies program at UNC Charlotte. His book Poker & Pop Culture was published by D&B Books in 2019.

View all posts by Martin Harris
Privacy Policy