Jack McClelland is a legend in the poker world. A one-time semi-professional bowler, McClelland moved to Vegas in 1976 to care for his ailing mother. Little did he know it’d set him on a four-decade long poker career that would forever influence the game.
He was a World Series of Poker tournament director in the 1980s and spent 2002-2013 running Bellagio Poker Room, where he helped usher in the World Poker Tour as one of their first host venues. He’s worked events around the world including in Cyprus, Vienna, and Aruba, and in 2014 his contributions were recognized when he was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame alongside Daniel Negreanu.
McClelland, who retired at the end of 2013, has experienced his fair share of health issues over the years, but as he recently told PokerNews, things are starting to look up.
“AS OF THE LAST WSOP I’VE GOT MY STAMINA BACK SO I COULD PLAY TOURNAMENTS.”
“I retired in 2013 and needed a heart transplant,” McClelland explained. “I’ve been sick for a lot of years since I went and ran a tournament in Russia. So, I waited about three years on the transplant list and then I went in and got the transplant.
“That was almost three years ago. It’s taken me about three more years to get my stamina back.”
McClelland’s Return to the Tables
It is McClelland’s resilience that has seen him make more and more appearances in Las Vegas cardrooms in recent months.
“As of the last WSOP I’ve got my stamina back so I could play tournaments,” McClelland said. “I think I played 6-7 tournaments at the WSOP. I’ve been playing other ones at the Venetian, Wynn and places like that. Just kind of playing and enjoying retirement.”
As a player, McClelland’s resumé dates back to 1983. He’s amassed $158,765 in that time including a career-best $33,966 for winning the 2000 Heavenly Hold’em $220 Limit Hold’emevent in Los Angeles. More recently, he finished third in a $200 daily tournament at Wynn Las Vegas, good for $1,578.
“I was playing tournaments for years until my health problems,” he continued. “Now some days I’ll play two days a week or seven days a week depending on what’s going on.”