Ralph Morton

The hardest stories to write are about the people I have lost track of over the years. I was good friends with many poker players and when I moved away took a job, got married and settled down I lost touch with many of the poker players. Only now after it is far too late have I been asking about many of the old guys. Sadly good friends like B.J. Ward and Hippy Rich passed on without me even realizing it. Today I write about yet another one of the old guys that passed on without me getting in touch.

I remember standing there in the Spirit Mountain Poker Room for the Anniversary Series in 1999 when in walked the legendary Ralph Morton. I wasn’t positive it was the same Ralph but the age looked right and the ever present cowboy hat was atop his head. Ralph had won a couple World Series bracelets in the eighties. I believe in 1982 and 1987 he won bracelets. Ralph was a very successful poker player and I believe somewhere in the late eighties or early nineties he was derailed by drugs. Specifically, Ralph had a problem with cocaine. At one point Ralph ran afoul of some bad customers and they beat him to death over a drug deal and the only problem was Ralph was too stubborn to die.

Well late in the year of 1998 Ralph got his life back together and made a comeback in the poker world. Ralph was playing a number of small buy-in events and very few cash ring games and most of us were pretty certain that he was still down on his luck and did not have much of a bankroll but it looked like he had kicked the drugs. Ralph was old at that time and probably past his prime but he was undoubtedly one of the best tournament players in the room. I was probably a better hold’em player than Ralph but he was certainly a better Omaha player.

Ralph cashed in the Omaha event and pretty soon word was spreading throughout the room about Ralph. I really did not know Ralph and had mostly read about him. If not for a couple bracelets I might not have even taken notice of Ralph Morton. A wealthy Englishman by the name of Chris Sinclair made a deal with Ralph to stake him in tournaments and they ended up cashing in the partner tournament at that tournament series. I would see Ralph and Chris on the road around the entire northwest and Ralph continued to pick up small cashes in the small buy-in tournaments.

The last hurrah for Ralph came in 2006 when Ralph managed to cash six times at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, Oregon. I think Ralph took down about $60K that year which was not bad for a washed up past his prime old man. He still had a few tricks to teach all of us young bucks. I had a few friends there for those tournaments and the word got back to me that Ralph had reemerged yet again and was playing well.  The man won over $1.2 Million playing tournaments in his lifetime.  I wanted to get up to one of those Pendleton tournaments but it is way too far from Fresno and not an easy place to fly into.

Sadly, at the end of last year I was home in Crescent City and asking about Ralph and nobody had seen him in quite some time. I tried to put the message out in the Seattle area and nobody remembered seeing Ralph. I went to the internet and started looking and I am afraid I am again too late because there was a Ralph Morton from Yakima Washington that passed away in 2007.

RALPH S MORTON July 29, 1938 to September 23, 2007

I am not sure this was Ralph but the age looks right and that would explain his not being around the tournament circuit.

I wanted to sit down with Ralph one more time as we ate dinner and talked about poker. I should have spent more time with Ralph in 1999 and 2000 when I had the chance. I remember there was a story written in a newspaper about his life and his kicking the cocaine and even that I can no longer find. Ralph wherever you may be tonight, give those young kids hell and never be afraid to put chips in the middle. I remember everything you told me.

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3 Responses to “Ralph Morton”

  1. Yolanda Says:

    Nice story. I love these poker tales! It is easier than it used to be to fly into Pendleton using the new commuter line Seaport Airlines. http://www.seaportair.com
    Hopefully you will make it to a future Wildhorse Tournament in honor of your friend Ralph.

  2. Shannon Nicole McIntosh Says:

    I was very happy to come across your story about Ralph. I met Ralph when i was about 15 years old, and even lived with him for over a year when I was 17. That was before his come back. I lost track of Ralph because I went to treatment and soon after treatment got pregnant. A couple of years later I ended up going to federal prison for conspiracy to distribute large amounts of drugs in another state, I was never caught with any drugs but still received 8 years in prison for it. Anyway, I looked him up not to long ago and found out he passed on about 9 months before I got back home, I was actually shocked he made the come back and that he had lived until 2007, because sometime in 2000 or so I had heard he had already passed away. I have never been a poker player, but I am really good with numbers and with playing cards, and Ralph always told me that he loved having me around because I was so good at cards, no one else could give him a challenge. I would like Ralph to know if he is somewhere out there and can read this somehow, I really wish I would have got home about a year sooner so I could have seen him, and that he really made me proud with his come back, old fart even has his picture on the chips at Wild Horse. And I hope u are proud of me to cause I have been home almost 5 years now and I have had my job since the day I got home makin about 50,000 a year and I am also buyin my own home, travel trailer, and nice truck, all legally. Life is finally good for me. I will always miss you and I will never forget you.

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