Back in march 1982 in Omaha Nebraska Brandi Hawbaker (or Brandi Rose as she was sometimes called) entered the world, just over 26 short years layer she was gone, to the big poker table in the sky.
No-one is really sure about the two films roles and there are as many “confirmations” as there are claims of bullh*t, but there are two reasons why Brandi is such a googled beauty, the first and most obvious was here famous FullTilt flash! The story behind the moment is less impressive than the picture. Legend has it that after being knocked out of a tournament at the Bellagio in Vegas Brandi was asked to pose holding the FullTilt logo, no-one knows if she was asked to do what she did next or if she just improvised. Ms Hawbaker tugged down her skimpy tank top exposing her right breast and held up the FullTilt logo to cover her nipple as the camera went off, if that wasn’t enough for you the glint in her eyes is sufficient to get a rise out of any red-blooded male.
FullTilt went home happy, an internet star was born and the rumour mill churned out story after story. Brandi’s payment for the flash was rumoured to be anything from $5K to $100 grand! Whatever it was FullTilt go their moneys worth (look how often they’ve been mentioned on this page). Back on the tables over the next few years Brandi recorded four cashes finishes totalling over $40,000, including a 17th place finish in Festa a Lago / WPT Event Super Satellite an she became the Poker Honey de Jour after she spent a majority the first few days in the 2006 World Poker Tour Festa al Lago Classic as the chip leader.
The other big reason for her fame was the infamous “Captain” Tom Franklin story, aka the “Never Trust Anyone” post. If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years and don’t know the story; in a nutshell Brandi posted a message on 2+2 Poker Forum claiming that kindly Capt Tom had offered to “look after” her bank roll for her, before losing it and then, to add sexual harassment to injury, “acted inappropriately” with Brandi in a hotel room after offering to mentor her. (Never heard it called that before).
The Story itself was one thing but the web being what it is the thread exploded with every Tom Dick and Suzanne throwing in their thoughts, some sympathetic some pathetic and some down-right vicious. Stories roll on and on and reports came in that Brandi was a liar, a cheap grifter, a stripper, damaged goods, a gold digger, a hysteric, that she had mental health issues, some even called her a whore. Brandi kept the story alive and added fuel to the (numerous) fires by re-posting and responding with her own versions of events and additional stories. The controversy spilled into the poker sites and when playing online, Brandi was often mocked and derided, while there was a zoo-like fascination with her, and her truly car-crash life.
Fame for Brandi was one thing, but financial security and glamour was something else. According to Brandon Gerson, a friend and former boyfriend of Ms. Hawbaker’s, she suffered from a “very serious untreatable mental illness” (make of that what you will). Then the pokers wins were drying up and no-one took her seriously at the tables or was willing to stake her to a tournament. Any consideration for Brandi’s poker prowess was lost under the avalanche of web based opinion prompting Brandi to post a follow up; “Say whatever you want. I’ve played a total of 6 tournaments. I’ve won or cashed in 4 of them. You can tell me I’m stupid and that it’s all my fault for what happened, but with that history of wins vs. losses, you can’t say I suck at poker. If it’s not enough tournaments to base whether or not I’m a winning player, then I guess you will just have to give me more time and wait and see.”
Sadly we never got to see just what Brandi was capable of on the tables, as the troubled girl took her own life in April 2008, she was 26. Her funeral took place in Nashville and Brandi’s cremated ashes were scattered in the oceans as requested.