Russ moved from Detroit, Michigan to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1984 apparently for better weather. He opened a burglar alarm business, but success at gambling, including betting on basketball and playing poker proved to be better business.
Russ won the main event of the 1994 WSOP taking a $1,000,000 prize. Because it was the silver (25th) anniversary of the WSOP, he also won his weight in silver, over $26,000.
He doesn’t travel to play a lot of poker, mainly playing in the larger tournaments. Since he has already won the WSOP, he doesn’t play to win a title anymore, just to get money, and so he will frequently offer to split prize money with other players instead of taking an all-or-nothing risk.
Russ’ winning WSOP hand:
Hugh Vincent limped in holding 85 and Russ called. A flop of 986 all diamonds gave both players a pair of 8’s with. Russ checked and Hugh bet strongly so Russ moved all in. Despite only holding a 5 as a kicker Hugh called. The turn and river came down TJ and Russ’ King kicker won him the world championship.
In his own words:
“Winning the championship was something that I wanted more than anything else in the world, It puts you into an elite group of poker players that very few people can enter.”