This photo of Howard Lederer and Ray Bitar was the final cut from our 20 Greatest Poker Pics of All Time list.
It missed the cut because it’s missing the kind of in-the-moment story our other photos have.
We believe this was taken by PokerWire at the 2005 WSOP (we originally found it in April 2011 on a no-longer-in-existence PokerWire flickr album). The 2005 WSOP was the last year before anyone was really skittish that the government was going to crack down on online poker. The WSOP was crazy. Online operators practically walked around with their nuts hanging out of their pants. Calvin Ayre sauntered around Vegas like a modern day Hef and hosted a gaming conference where he butchered the spelling of Daniel Negreanu’s name. Even the guy who founded TOMS shoes had a site (greentiepoker.com) and was a presence. Yes, there was plenty of fly-by-night, get-rich-quick companies out there, or uninspired/copycat Bryan Mileski/MSPT type companies leaching on to make a buck, but for the most part, it was all good. Different, carefree times.
By the 2006 WSOP, small shifts were happening. Ayre canceled his conference at the last minute. And Ray Bitar wasn’t as blatantly out in the open chumming around with Full Tilt management. Of course, after UIGEA hit, the 2007 WSOP looked totally different.
It’s a great photo though with or without the sad Black Friday ending to it. The #1 (Lederer) and his (literal) #2 (Bitar), carefree as can be, proudly out in the open with their new Full Tilt Poker site making its first big splash.
More 20 Greatest to come this week, including a Full Tilt Poker entry (and one of our favorite stories)…
Read our old Rise and Fall of Ray Bitar here.