Layne Flack was born in the lush town of Rapid City, South Dakota, on May 18, 1969. After graduating from school, 18-year-old Layne secured a job as a dealer in a poker club and soon began to play himself.

This marked the next 8 years of his life: Layne first dealt cards, then took the place of the player, traveling to clubs in his native and neighboring states. In 1995, Flack met a woman and moved with her to Nevada. They settled in Reno, and soon their daughter Hayley was born.

However, they didn’t become a family: just 2 years later, in 1997, Layne was already living alone in Las Vegas.

Flack's first victory was at the iconic Horseshoe Casino, where the World Series of Poker began. He won the $1,500 event and took home $68,000. A bankroll appeared, and Layne began to play expensive cash games with all the then stars. There wasn’t always enough money, but the talented player was already noticed by Johnny Chan, who was always ready to sponsor Layne.

In 1999, Flack won his first WSOP bracelet in the $3,000 Pot Limit Holdem event for $224,000. Soon, in August of the same year, he acquired a nickname that stuck with him forever. Layne won the Legends of Poker $330 Stud tournament ($15,600) and the next day took home the same buy-in limit Holdem tournament ($19,320). For this, he was nicknamed "Back-to-Back," meaning “one after another.”

If only his friends knew how Flack would live up to his nickname in the future! In 2002, he won two bracelets, both in no-limit Holdem. And the next year, shortly before Chris Moneymaker’s historic victory, he won two more – in Omaha Hi-Lo and Limit Holdem. His last WSOP win in 2008 was the biggest cash of Layne's career, taking home $577,725 in a $1,500 PLO event.

In total, Flack earned more than $5 million in prize money during his career. His second-biggest prize came at the 2004 World Poker Tour in Aruba in a $6,200 tournament. His daughter flew there, and Layne said that he dreamed she would see him play at the final table. It was a dream come true: Flack made it through a field of 647 players, and 9-year-old Hayley watched her dad take on John Juanda and Mike Matusow in a star-studded final. Layne then came in second, receiving $500,000.

By that time, Flack was already a superstar in the United States, but not only (and not so much) thanks to his bracelets. The decisive role was played by the victory in a seemingly insignificant 6-person SnG, the composition of which was determined by the WPT organizers. In heads-up play, Layne beat Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss.

Buss was a media , so the tournament was filmed. And after Moneymaker’s victory, any poker content became incredibly in demand on American TV. In subsequent years, the video was played endlessly, making Flack famous. They also showed a lot of the very finale, which Layne’s daughter watched. Flack and Buss remained good friends until the latter's death in 2013.

Flack looked great on TV, but in real life, things weren't so rosy. Money, fame, and life in Sin City awakened every possible demon in Flack. It was rare to find him sober in the casino; he could easily drink several liters of beer while playing. At the same time, according to Phil Hellmuth, Layne’s skill did not suffer at all from alcohol. Flack himself thought so; in an interview with the PokerNews website, he said: “Even if I’m one step away from simply passing out at the table, I still monitor the game and control everything.”

Unfortunately, the matter was not limited to alcohol. In the early 2000s, it was all too easy to buy drugs in Vegas, and the poker pro lifestyle and party atmosphere made it easy to try anything illegal. And Flack tried everything he could get his hands on. In 2001, he began regularly buying ecstasy, then switched to methamphetamine. In the collection of autobiographical stories of professional poker players, "Deal Me In," there is a chapter written by Flack. Here's what he said about that time:

"In 2002 and 2003, I was doing great in poker, but the lifestyle I was leading was rapidly destroying me. And in 2004 everything went to hell: I lived in a one-room apartment with my girlfriend Paulette, there was no money to pay rent, I didn’t eat anything. I had practically nothing left except addiction."

Daniel Negreanu intervened: he sent Layne to a rehabilitation clinic and fully paid for the treatment, allocating about $60,000.

In the photo, Layne Flack hugs Daniel's wife Amanda.

Returning to Vegas, Flack really didn't drink for a while, but soon his old habits enslaved him again. Mostly drunkenness: YouTube is full of videos of Flack playing drunk. For example, this is how he knocked Jerry Yang out of the WPT tournament in 2011:

When Layne wasn't completely drunk, he was usually on his way to it – with a permanent bottle of beer in his hand and a cigar in his teeth. In 2009, he was detained by Las Vegas police: he was driving drunk and speeding. He was driving from a party after the draw for the annual NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, where he got drunk with Andrew Robl. Andrew then blogged about the evening:

"I was very drunk and somehow managed to persuade the legendary Layne Flack to shoot tequila with me. It wasn’t the best idea, of course, to tempt a person who was constantly on the verge of a breakdown. When we got drunk, I went home to bed, and he continued to carouse."

Flack continued his spree behind bars: he refused to take an alcohol test and spent the night in a police station. Because of this, he did not have time for the tournament, the draw of which he so excitedly celebrated, and he was hastily replaced by David Oppenheim.
Flack knew and loved to relax, and the noisier the party, the better:

Another scandal involving Flack that went down in history was the clash with Doyle Brunson. Flack was one of the opponents of the cancellation of rebuy tournaments at the World Series (he just won his last bracelet in 2008 in a PLO rebuy, hence the big prize – $577k with a $1,500 buy-in). The (ultimately victorious) abolitionists then said that the rich were simply “buying” themselves bracelets, making countless rebuys. In an interview, Flack said:

“Want to talk about buying bracelets? Let's remember one of Doyle's bracelets, which he won in an 8-person tournament. Some would do well to remember the history and understand which bracelets were actually purchased.”

In response, Brunson calmly recalled that the smallest tournament he had won was a team tournament, where there were 14 pairs of players. And he regretted that he didn’t remember where that bracelet was kept – otherwise, he “would have sent it to Flack with a proposal to put it where the sun never shines.”

Despite the squabble with Doyle (with whom they, however, quickly made peace) and the eternal problems with money, drunkenness and drugs, Flack had all of Vegas as his friends. He was always open, cheerful and friendly, which invariably captivated both his neighbors at the table and those watching on TV. After his death, literally everyone talked about how fun it was to be around him.

Eli Elezra: “No one was as nice to play with as him. And no one can compare with him in terms of talent. It's not even about the bracelets; it was impossible to read it in the hands. He had every poker trick imaginable up his sleeve. In fact, he is terribly underrated: most players don't realize how good he was."

PokerGO President Maury Eskandani: “He turned the game into a celebration, and it didn’t matter whether he was in a plus or a minus. If I lost a big pot, I would shut up for just a couple of hands, and then again try to make sure everyone at the table had fun.”

WPT Tournament Director Matt Savage: “His ability to read his opponents was incredible, I've never seen anything like it in my life. He could literally talk his opponent into giving him chips. And at the beginning of the 2000s, there was no stronger player in the world. He was simply the first. Not Ivy , not Negreanu – him.”

Flack and Ilya Gorodetsky remembered warmly :

“I got to play with him in Las Vegas. True, none of the bright stories for which he is famous happened to me. Ted Forrest, I remember, fell asleep at the table between hands, and sometimes during. And Lane Flack always behaved appropriately and played well. He apparently knew how to separate work and play at a later stage of his career.”

A few days after Flack's death, Mike Matusow held an impromptu memorial on YouTube, where he asked famous players to share stories about their old friend.

“Lane wouldn't approve of us sitting around crying. He would want us to have fun and have fun,” Mike said. Many stars then gathered to honor Flack's memory.

Erik Seidel recalled how he sat Lane down to play an Omaha hi-lo tournament, and at some point he began to raise every hand blindly. “He won the tournament, but that was the last time I gave him money,” Eric said with a laugh.

Ted Forrest told how he and Lane were once detained by the police in Mexico and had to be bribed to be released. There was a serious reason to hurry: friends were expected at a private game at Larry Flynt's, the founder of Hustler magazine. The bribe paid off; they then won $200,000 between them.

Scotty Nguyen talks about how he couldn't get enough money to buy into the $50,000 HORSE tournament in 2008. Frustrated, he left the Rio casino, where he ran into Flack. Upon learning of the problem, he simply reached into his pocket, took out a $25,000 chip and handed it to Scotty. Nguyen received about $2 million for his victory, of which Flack received $750,000.

Layne’s daughter, Hayley, also stopped by to see Matusov. She was very touched by how warmly the players spoke about her father. “I was always afraid that I would inherit his bad qualities and habits,” she admitted. “But now that I’ve heard all this, I also want to believe that I also have his good qualities.”

One of Flack's last Twitter posts is a video of Gavin Smith, who died in 2019.

Lane had no way of knowing that he wouldn't be able to appear at last year's World Series, which was moved to the fall. This is a tweet from April 4, and on July 19, Flack, 52, was found dead in his Las Vegas home. The cause of death was a drug overdose.