Poker Stories Podcast: Eli Elezra Talks About The Night He Lost $1.3 Million To The Governor Of Kentucky


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Eli Elezra has put together quite the list of poker accomplishments. The former businessman was one of the stars of the poker boom, enduring seven-figure swings by playing in some the biggest cash games in the world. He has also had quite a bit of success in live tournaments with more than $3.6 million in earnings. The 58-year-old won his World Poker Tour title back in 2004 at the Mirage Poker Showdown for $1,024,574. He also has three World Series of Poker bracelets, having taken down a 2007 stud eight-or-better event, a 2013 triple draw event, and a 2015 stud event.

But poker was the furthest thing from Elezra’s mind growing up in Jerusalem, and later serving in the Israel Defense Force during the Lebanon War. After being wounded in battle, Elezra moved to Alaska, where he worked in a salmon cannery, as a taxi driver, and even hunted bears and whales. He later moved to Las Vegas when he spotted a business opportunity to run a photo processing store on the Strip. It’s these stories of high-stakes poker and the near-death experiences of his youth that are featured in his autobiography, Pulling The Trigger.

Highlights from this interview include growing up 10 minutes from Jesus, losing the school’s money at street poker, spending three weeks in jail, becoming an Israeli Green Beret, enduring starvation week, losing men and being wounded in the war, working 18-hour days in an Alaskan cannery, hunting whales and bears with the Inupiat tribe, moving to Vegas to run photo huts, getting cheated at the Stardust, why the game moved from Mirage to Bellagio, jumping to $4,000-$8,000 stakes, being in the “poker hospital”, crushing three-handed games against Chip and Doyle, why they couldn’t play props on High Stakes Poker, a $1 million bracelet side-bet score, Scotty Nguyen pieced out, a stinky pickle job, a $1.8 million winning session, ordering one of everything on the menu, and high-stakes games against the KFC colonel.

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.