WSOP Main Event: "Craig, I've got something to tell you: udog is your Dad"

by Mad Harper

When Brooks Craig Rickard III was just six years old, his father, Brooks Craig Rickard II, left home. As the eldest of three, young Craig stepped into his father's shoes but his parents' break-up left a bitter legacy. For his entire life, Craig hated his Dad for 'abandoning' the family. He never saw his Dad again and even when his father tried to make contact - the day Craig's first child was born - Craig refused to take the call.

Because of their childhood traumas, the Rickard boys (and sister Julie), from Madison, Wisconsin, had quite a tough childhood and it is largely because of this that Craig, now 41, and his younger brother John, 37, are incredibly close. They both work for the same company, they talk for several hours a day on the phone, they go fishing and hunting together and they both play poker on PokerStars.

A few months ago, Craig notices that a new player has started watching brother John when he's playing on PokerStars. He likes "udog55" a lot: the guy is fun, a great chatter, a nice guy. The brothers start playing some private SNGs and "udog55" joins in. This goes on for a few months until one day, John turns up at Craig's house. Craig said: "John just sits there looking at me. So eventually I say: 'Just spit it out, John.' And then John says it: 'Craig, udog is your Dad.'

"I thought I was going to have a heart attack. This is a guy I grew up hating my entire life but it's also someone I really like. I had no idea. I didn't even know that John was in contact with him although, in fact they've met several times but John didn't want to tell me because he knew how much I hated him. Thing is, when my Dad left home, my Mum told me he wanted nothing to do with us. I now know that's not true but I was only six at the time so I bought the story."

"Anyway, I was kind of pissed at John that he hadn't told me. But in a way it was great because I met my Dad, without knowing it was my Dad. We started talking on MSN and stuff, and it was all pretty emotional. It's turned my life around."

In May, John and Craig flew to Kansas for their father's 60th birthday - the first time Craig had seen his Dad in 35 years. Craig said: "There was a lot of crying. And there were all these Aunts and Uncles there that I don't remember and they kept calling me 'Baby Craig'. And we also met our step-brothers and step-sisters. It was awesome."

John (left) and Craig Rickard

Today, on Day 2b of the WSOP, John - who qualified in a $33 rebuy - is taking his seat with just $7,125 in chips. But he's pretty confident and reckons he can build on that. Craig will be watching from the rail, in constant touch with "udog55". If John gets anywhere near the final table, the first person the brothers will be flying down to Vegas is their Dad, "udog55".

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker