By Sean Chaffin
The name at the top of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Day 1 leaderboard may not have been familiar to most poker fans. Businessman and poker player John Flynt has less than $20,000 in live tournament winnings, but had a massive run on Wednesday where he just seemed to hit everything.
“I was on fire, I couldn’t miss,” he said at the first break on Day 2. “I was making boats, straights, hitting set after set, it was just an unbelievable day. I made a lot of good decisions too.”
“I’m really just an amateur, recreational player. I play $2/$5, $5/$10, $10/$20 here and in L.A. I play in different places, just for fun and usually cash games.”
The 57-year-old resident of North Salt Lake City, Utah, is a retired contractor and the WPT’s premier event now becomes the first WPT event of his career. So far, Flynt is off to a good start but found some obstacles to his chip stack early on Thursday.
“I was up to like 320,000 and now I’m down less than 200,000,” he said. “I’ve taken a few beats and it’s not rolling out like it did yesterday. I thought I made some good decisions, but ended up getting beat just barely a few hands that cost me pretty good. But I’m just kind of tightening up a little bit. I’m hoping to roll through today hopefully, and get to tomorrow with a decent chip stack.”
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Flynt later moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, to start a roofing business at age 30. His father told him that the town was booming and big houses were going up everywhere.
“They were building 10,000-square-foot homes by the dozens,” he says. “The rich and famous live up there and I took advantage of that. There were only a few roofing companies when I got up there and I basically went around and shook hands with as many general contractors as I could. Before I knew it, within a few months I was getting just piles of blueprints for new construction, high-end roofing.
“It worked out well. It was a lot easier to be a contractor up there in a little town than it is in L.A. running around with the rat race and freeway traffic.”
Later Flynt became a partial owner in a semiconducting microprocessor company in L.A., and he and his partners sold the business this year for $80 million.
“I had about a fifth of it, so it set me up for the rest of my life for the most part,” he says. “I’m just really thankful and things just really went well in the 10 years that I was part of the company.”
While he now has more time and money for poker, Flynt remains a family man. He’s a single father to 21- and 17-year-old daughters and spends as much time with them as he can.
“I’m just trying to be a good dad and have fun, but take care of business and have an enjoyable life,” he says.
Despite some early bumps in the road, Flynt hopes to keep his solid run going. When it comes to building Flynt certainly has experience and that has applied to his chip stack to far as well. What’s the plan as Day 2 progresses? Avoid demolition.
“I’m probably in the middle of the bunch now,” he said. “The plan for Day 2 is to hopefully make a few pots and survive to the next day with a decent stack and hopefully not run into any big beats again. I have to be real careful, pick and choose my spots.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in New Mexico and Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.