There are few poker directors in the world who are as famous or influential as Jack McClelland. The man has been around the poker scene since 1984, when he won the World Series of Poker. He has run the Grand Prix of Poker, the Golden Nugget Casino, and most recently the poker events at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
McClelland has been credited with expanding poker throughout the United States. He was the first man to host a poker event at the Commerce Casino in California, and he helped start poker tournaments in St. Petersburg, Vienna, Cyprus and Aruba.
The Bellagio will view McClelland’s retirement as a huge loss, given the fact that he has been running their tournaments for close to eleven years. He was there when they hosted the World Series of Poker for the first time in 2002, and during many of their historic moments the past decade. The 2013 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic is set to be his last event, after which they will appoint a new director. While McClelland will be sorely missed, the legacy he leaves behind will ensure that his successor has a much easier task on his hands.
In an interview with Erik Fast of CardPlayer.com, McClelland was asked about his retirement decision, what he plans to do after poker, and how he first got involved with the famous card game:
McClelland: “I have been doing this (running poker events) for close to five decades, and my health is not as good as it used to be. This seemed like as good a time as any to retire, look after my health, and enjoy the rest of my life.”
He also talked about the earliest influences in his life, including that of his grandmother. She was the one who taught him how to play poker, by showing him the basics and playing small money games with him. He would play two-cent ante, nickel limit and seven card stud poker at first.
The rest of the interview can be found here: http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/16541-bellagio-s-jack-mcclelland-retiring-after-2013-wpt-five-diamond.
McClelland was not a great poker player at first, he confessed. It took him many years to master the game, to understand when to walk away from a hand, and how to better read his opponents. In the end, he mastered the skills necessary, and leaves behind a poker legacy that would make anyone proud.