The Big Tuna

Because I grew up and lived in Crescent City before heading to college in Sacramento, I have spent most of my life in northern California. I moved to Fresno almost 11 years ago and now have a home base in the central valley of California. My early poker revolved around northern California and southern Oregon with the occasional Reno trip thrown into the mix. I have many fond memories of those Reno trips. I managed to play many small buy-in tournaments at the Peppermill and the Hilton. These were very good tournaments and the level of competition was pretty stiff for a small town boy.

My younger friends asked me about the poker player I was playing with in those days and I rattled off the names of quite a few old timers. Finally, the question of the best poker player from Reno came up. I thought about it quite a bit and hedged my answer the best I could. I really had three names I wanted to mention off the top of my head and that was without any research or discussion.
The first guy I brought up was Jack Fox. At one time Jack was playing tournament poker as well as anyone and I believe he was considering playing full time. Yes Jack was an attorney and had a full time job. I believe Jack won the best all-around at the Peppermill a couple times. I remember chatting with Jack at Binion’s one year during the World Series of Poker. I do not remember the year butt it was probably 97 or 98. I am not sure what happened to Jack and I do not know how many more tournaments he played. I just remember him being one of the best tournament players in Reno for a couple years.

The second guy is actually a GIRL. Jennifer Harman was born and raised in the Reno area and got her poker start in Reno before moving on to bigger and better games in California and Las Vegas. Jennifer plays in the biggest cash games in the world and is without a doubt one of the best female cash game players ever. Jennifer has not written the final chapters of her poker story and if her health holds up she will have many more years to polish that resume.

The third guy I mentioned and the one I unofficially anointed the greatest player ever to come from Reno is Hans “Tuna” Lund. Tuna was the greatest tournament player ever to come out of Reno. Tuna had a second and third place finish in the main event. Tuna is also the only man ever to lose the title on the river card. In a heads up hand with Mansour Matloubi, Tuna had him all-in and slightly covered. Tuna had made two pair on the turn aces and nines against Matloubi’s pocket tens. Matloubi had exactly two tens to draw to and a ten came on the river. Tuna played the Peppermill tournaments with us many times and he even made the trip to Casino Club in Redding for the End of the Rainbow tournament. Tuna took many years away from poker to be with his family and was away from the game for nearly a decade. Tuna won some big tournaments and actually won two WSOP bracelets. All told he had tournament wins of three million dollars. In 2006 he returned to poker and cashed in the main event in both 2006 and 2007. He also placed in two WPT events when he rejoined the poker scene. The old guy still had game. As is often the case, by the time I tried to look him up and see how he was doing I found out he had passed away in November 2009 at the age of 59. The Big Tuna was one hell of a player and is still the best ever to come from Reno.

There may be players that came from Reno and I have overlooked them because I never had the opportunity to play with them. If so I apologize for any omission and I assure you no slight was intended.

“You’ve got to have the heart of a lion — play fearless, don’t be afraid and, when you roar, they better back up.” – Hans “Tuna” Lund.


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