Billy Baxter Named To Sports Gambling Hall Of Fame

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Billy Baxter Named To Sports Gambling Hall Of Fame
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Billy Baxter, a veteran professional poker player and sports bettor, has been named to the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame.

Baxter is one of 10 inductees to be celebrated at a ceremony on Aug. 11 at Circa Resort in downtown Las Vegas during the Bet Bash sports betting conference. This is the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

Pool Hustler, Poker Pro

Growing up in Augusta, Georgia, Baxter began hustling pool games during his early teenage years and later dropped out of college to play poker professionally.

Baxter told Cigar Aficionado magazine in 2014 that he went from hustling pool games to playing poker after realizing the “real money” was in poker. At a bar in his hometown, he discovered that local business executives were playing poker in the back. 

“I’d come in with my winnings from pool and they would break me,” he said. “Then I’d go back to the poolroom, win some more money and get broken again. But I knew that I wanted to be at the poker table. These guys had big money and they gambled big. Within a year, I started winning.”

In the 1970s, Baxter opened an illegal gambling club in his hometown, ultimately leading to a nine month jail sentence, according to the Augusta Chronicle. He served the sentence at the Richmond County Correctional Institution not far where he’d spent his childhood.

Baxter and his wife moved to Las Vegas in 1975, the same year he won his first World Series of Poker event, when he was 35 years old, the newspaper reported.

'Some People Called Me Crazy'

Over the years, Baxter became a prominent figure in Las Vegas card rooms and sportsbooks — and even on the golf course, where people like reputed marijuana trafficker Jimmy Charga were known to drop money on bets. Baxter also avoided being shaken down by the Chicago Outfit’s Tony Spilotro, a fate that not all poker players escaped, according to Cigar Aficionado.

Over time, Baxter would win seven World Series of Poker bracelets, six in lowball events, according to He also provided the money for Stu Ungar’s buy-in at the 1997 World Series of Poker, which led to a main event win for the poker phenom.

Beyond that, Baxter was instrumental in a legal battle involving taxation on gaming winnings.

In 1986, he sued the IRS in a landmark case that resulted a court ruling declaring gambling revenue could be counted as earned income, a victory for Baxter and gamblers, saving them money. 

“Some people called me crazy for suing the government, but I had a good accountant and he said, ‘You should sue.’ So I did,” Baxter told the Augusta Chronicle.

Baxter has received a number accolades during his poker and sports betting career, including his 2006 induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

In a recent tweet, the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame said Baxter is known as “the best all around gambler ever.”

Sports Gambling Hall of Fame List

Below is a list of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame members named so far:

  • Charles McNeil 
  • Jack Franzi 
  • Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal 
  • Jackie Gaughan
  • Bob Martin
  • Billy Walters
  • Roxy Roxborough
  • Jimmy Vaccaro
  • Scott Schettler
  • Billy Baxter

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Larry Henry

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