Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker
EDITOR’S NOTE: as some of you may have noticed, I put out an open call for writers a short while back when I updated this website’s contact page. That offer still stands — anyone who might have something to contribute, please feel free to get in touch! Today I’m posting an article that was sent to me regarding Anthrax/S.O.D. guitarist (and perennial VH1 personality) Scott Ian. Please enjoy!
Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker
Written by Ashton Chambers
There aren’t many musicians in the industry that have had the longevity that Anthrax founding member Scott Ian has experienced. He helped found the band in 1986 and is still touring with the band to this day as a larger-than-life 51-year-old musician who has practically seen everything there is to see in the industry.
Anthrax, as many of you are aware, came to fruition on the same crest as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and other like-minded thrash metal bands in the late 80s. And although Metallica and Megadeth are still touring in some form today, Anthrax have been innovators in their respective field for nearly 40 incredible years.
The band have seen several side-projects and collaborations accepted across many verticals. One of the most high profile was with rap group Public Enemy on the track “Bring the Noise.”
But the underlying enthusiasm that fueled Anthrax was Ian‘s inability to rest. Thus, when Anthrax members hit a wall after long touring schedules, Ian would look for other avenues to keep him busy. In the early days these came in the form of supergroups Stormtroopers of Death and The Damned Things. You can watch S.O.D. perform “Milk” at the legendary CBGB’s in New York below:
However, collaborations weren’t taking up all of Ian‘s time; as the band got older their need to relax when tours finished became more apparent and Ian needed to find alternative avenues to keep himself busy. One of these was by learning how to play poker. Ian was renowned for playing on tour with band mates, roadies, and friends but had never played the professional circuit.
While touring Europe he would play online to help him get used to playing all types of players, and to help educate himself on the many different facets of the game. But arguably it wasn’t until 2006 when Ian helped arrange a charity poker event that he realized his potential. The tournament was called “VH1’s Rock & Roll Celebrity Tournament” where Ian invited his closest rock friends to help raise money for a slew of notable charities. Playing the tournament alongside the Anthrax star was Godsmack‘s Sully Erna, Pantera‘s Vinnie Paul, ZZ Top‘s Dusty Hill and KISS‘ Ace Frehley, among others.
He was to reach a heads-up battle with Erna, eventually losing to the Godsmack singer but the tournament gave him a renewed sense of confidence. Ian then began plotting his next moves in the sport with a view to playing against professionals in the not-too-distant future.
In 2008 Ian made his bow alongside the world’s best card players at the World Series of Poker. In interview with Poker News on Rounders Radio he mentioned how much he loves life on the road, as a poker player, performing with Anthrax and with [wife] Pearl when he finds time. In the succeeding years, Ian would return to the WSOP and continue to strive to finish in the money at poker’s most prestigious annual tournament.
It’s not hard to see why the axeman has been so enthralled by the industry on the whole during his time away from music. The online poker industry is now worth a staggering $41 billion in the United States alone, even though it is still prohibited in many states across the country.
The riches that are available at tournaments across the world often surpass $500,000 for the winner and even online tournaments have unbelievably high prize winnings. Online website Betfair published an article documenting the “10 Biggest Cash Game Winners of All-time” in which they said Phil Ivey had amassed in excess of $19 million during his career. So, it’s not too hard to see why Ian is drawn to a sport that requires limited commitment and huge gains if successful.
Over the last 12 months Ian‘s poker career has been relatively quiet — for his standards — so let’s hope he’s gearing up for a new studio record. Anthrax haven’t released an album since 2011’s Worship Music, so maybe we may see Ian and the band back in the recording studio soon to extend that 40-something-year career even further.