Danny Robison

Danny Robison, Half of Poker’s Golddust Twins, Passes

The tale of poker’s Golddust Twins came to an end this week with the reported passing of Danny Robison, who became a part of ’70s Las Vegas poker lore when he and a hometown friend, David “Chip” Reese, took the poker world by storm.

Robison was in late 60s when he died in southern California a few days ago, with exact details still awaiting the publishing of an official obituary.  Born in 1945, he arrived in Las Vegas in 1973 on a weekend trip with his friend, Reese.

As the legend went, the pair never left, taking a combined $800 to the $10/$20 tables and enjoying so much success that they began taking turns playing 12-hour shifts at the old Stardust, renting an $8/night hotel room which they used as their base of operations.  Two years later, in a tale relayed by the late Tom Sexton in his old Sexton’s Corner columns, they’d parlayed that $800 into a $2 million fortune.

By that point they’d long secured their reputations on the Vegas poker scene and had been tagged as the “Golddust Twins” by the Texas old guard of poker players, included Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim Preston, who largely dominated the Vegas games of that area.  Robison was perhaps 28 when he arrived and Reese was even younger, about 22, and their success was unusual and unexpected; Vegas, after all, was already known as the place where hometown poker heroes met their match.

Danny-robison

Poker storyteller Tom Sexton once shared a Fairmont High School (Dayton, OH) photo of Danny Robison to illustrate the 1970’s tale of poker’s Golddust Twins.

The Golddust Twins changed that, and it was something new for Las Vegas poker — a pair of kids from Dayton, Ohio taking over the biggest seven-card-stud games in town.  They were the first of poker’s Dayton Connection to arrive, a short line which soon included Mike Sexton as well, and their success helped open up poker to the masses in an earlier era.

Both Reese and Robison succumbed a bit to the Vegas lifestyle, and that may have eventually contributed to the fairly early passing of both.  Reese became morbidly obese, successfully underwent gastric bypass surgery (as have many other poker players), but died unexpectedly in 2007 at age 56.  Robison very publicly went into rehab (as recounted by Sexton) for cocaine addiction, and became a born-again Christian, stepping away from the poker world for several years.

Robison was still a feared stud player even if he never received the attention given to his Golddust Twin partner, Reese, in later years.  While Reese eventually was enshrined in poker’s Hall of Fame, Robison’s career accolades were more modest, though he did win a WSOP event for $140,000 — in seven-card stud, naturally — in 1995, and logged career tournament cashes of over $224,000.

In his earlier years Robison was also an accomplished amateur athlete, being skilled enough, according to Tom Sexton, to have won a dual sports scholarship in basketball and gold to attend Ohio University.  Robison even attended the same high school, Fairmont High in Dayton, as the Sextons, and Mike Sexton even once caddied for Robison when he won Dayton’s city amateur golf title.

In later years, Robison remained a local poker celebrity, despite not really being part of the game’s mainstream surge in the post-Moneymaker era.  Robison was noted for his frequent appearances in later years at the Commerce and the Bike, where he was a feared competitor in the occasional stud games.

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