We lost Chad Brown early this morning. The story his life can be found here: Chad Brown: 1961-2014. Many of his friends have been sharing their memories (see: Friends remember a fierce, fair fighter). This is the story of my first encounter with Chad.
As a guy who followed Chad Brown from city to city over a great many years, there are a lot of stories I could tell, but the story that stands out the most is the one that came before I’d met Chad at all.
We were in Tunica. Chad was there to play a WPT event. I was there with a ragtag bunch of yahoos looking to get in on the cash game money and have a few laughs. We’d all busted from the $1,000 over at Harrah’s and made our way to the $2/$5 games at Gold Strike. It was going about as well as you’d expect.
Nothing had gone particularly well during the trip. We’d reduced ourselves to playing Roshambo for $100 a game in the Gold Strike hallway. Battling each other was the best we could do, because we certainly weren’t going to win playing poker.
That’s when Rob noticed a shorthanded table in the middle of the cash game room. It was a $400/$800 mixed game with what looked like four players sitting: Tuan Le, Hassan Habib, Mimi Tran, and Chad Brown. They were off on the far side of the room and looked bored. It was the heyday of poker, but trying to get a $400/$800 mixed game going in Tunica wasn’t an easy proposition.
That’s when our buddy Rob started strolling toward the table. Chad and Mimi looked up. It was an eager look, like folks who had been without water for too long when a water fountain wandered by. Rob was meat. He was exactly the thing they’d been sitting there waiting for. He was disheveled, drunk, and ready to sit.
Chad, Tuan, and Mimi sat up. The game was finally coming together. It turned out, Habib wasn’t even playing.
“Habib ‘graciously’ stood up to give Rob a seat, making him feel right at home,” my friend John remembered.
Rob reached in his pocket and pulled out his cash. He spread it across the table and tapped his palm on the felt without a word.
Chad, Tuan, and Mimi looked at Rob. They waited for the punchline. It didn’t come. Rob tapped the felt again. His face said only one thing, “Let’s go. Deal me in.”
We watched on the wings while holding our breath. We looked at the cash in front of Rob and couldn’t believe what he had spread out in front of him.
Meanwhile, Tuan was getting impatient.
“You can’t do that!” he told Rob.
Rob sat stone-faced, and once again rapped the felt. “I’m ready for a hand,” his face said. He looked as natural at the table as anyone ever had.
What none of us could see from our distance and what Chad, Tuan, and Mimi didn’t expect was that the wad of cash Rob had spread across the felt in front of him amount to three twenty dollar bills.
In a $400/$800 game.
This was the point in almost any poker room where one of two things would happen: somebody would call the floor or somebody would get his ass kicked.
“Generally, as a mischief-maker, you’re hoping to not get punched,” Rob said when I asked him about that night. “I don’t follow pro poker and was just being a jackass.”
Rob may not have been putting up much money, but he was still gambling. Rob is a big guy, but so was Chad, and none of us knew what his temper was like.
So, there they all sat in a standoff: Rob rapping the felt and asking for a hand. Tuan Le steaming. Mimi Tran getting impatient.
And Chad Brown…smiling. Laughing even.
“Chad recognized the humor of the situation,” John said. “He’s the only one who finally laughed about it and got Rob to break down and end the joke.”
We’ve all grown up (a little) since then, but we still tell the story of the night Rob sat with Chad Brown at a $400/$800 game. You’ll hear a lot of stories about Chad’s kindness in the coming days, and I’m here to attest they are true. Not many people could’ve laughed Rob away from the table, but Chad did it with ease.
“I’m glad the biggest guy had the sense of humor,” Rob said.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging