Yosh Nakano is a living legend in the poker world. And now he is poised to make his mark as an entrepreneur and television producer.
As president and founder of MagicalGHS LLC, Yosh has created and produced “Celebrity Poker Gala” on Amazon Prime. Yosh admits the general public would much rather watch celebrities play poker than poker pros, so he created a show where celebrities play for their favorite charity.
Bruce Buffer, the Voice of the UFC, opens the show which includes 27 celebrities, including former White House staffer and author Omarosa Manigault, funnyman Andy Dick and actor Daniel Baldwin.
Bruce says, “I’ve known and played poker with Yosh Nakano for many years now and whenever he is at the table, you can expect to be in a battle and when he re-raises you, take the time to think before you make the wrong move and give away your chips to him.
“But remember he is a good bluffer at poker — he knows the game inside and out along with being an excellent businessman in real life.”
Yosh has played more winning poker than all of the greats. Poker pro Barry Greenstein says, “When there’s a discussion about who’s played the most hands of live poker, Yosh is always my pick.”
For 20 years, Yosh would show up at the WSOP and start a poker game that would be the showcase live action game. He did that every WSOP tournament series year after year.
His sessions seemed to last for days. Yosh would play for three days and nights, then turn to his friend and say, ”Would you like to go to dinner tonight?”
During dinner, Yosh would talk about his game and he couldn’t wait to get back to the action. He would then go back to the game and play another two days without sleep. He would only rest between hands.
Miami John Cernuto shared a story about Yosh playing in one of his long poker sessions, and facing a bet Yosh fell asleep. A floor person was called to wake up Yosh and act on his hand.
Yosh woke up and raised the pot. Now the dealer had to call the floor again to wake up his opponent, who was also asleep to act on his hand. As Mike Sexton told me, “Yosh plays better with his eyes closed than any player in the world.”
Yosh organized the biggest games in California between 1986 and 2006. The Bicycle Club was the first casino to dedicate a high-limit section featuring a poker superstar and that was Yosh Nakano. That was long before Bobby’s Room or Ivey’s room.
According to poker coach and comedian Roger Rodd, “When the ‘Gold Rush’ of legal California Texas Hold’em happened in 1987, the top section game was the ‘Who’s Who’ of Poker. Doyle, Chip, Stu Ungar, Johnny Moss, Eric Drache. Joining them — and beating the game— was my friend Yosh. He’s a class act.”
If you wanted to play high stakes poker in Los Angeles, you called Yosh. If Doyle or Chip wanted to come over to L.A., they called Yosh. If Jerry Buss wanted a game, Yosh was his go-to guy; they were close friends for life.
From my perspective as one who has known Yosh for over 40 years, he has stood for integrity in poker. Yosh worked to make poker an honest game.
Poker needs more ambassador icons like Yosh Nakano. The Poker Hall of Fame would be better with Yosh Nakano as a member.
In the meantime, Yosh says Season 2 of Celebrity Poker Gala is in the works. I wish him as much success on television as he has found at the poker table.
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