Scott Ian on Playing for Keeps

ANTHRAX GUITARIST SCOTT IAN, currently finishing up the band’s upcoming release, Worship Music, is also an avid poker player who has his own game on ultimatebet. com: Scott Ian’s Home Game. He recently played in an online tournament with Slash, Jerry Cantrell, Vinnie Paul, and System of a Down’s John Dolmayan (who took Kirk Hammett’s place when Hammett came down with the flu), as well as 20 fans that won their way into the game.

“The folks at were thinking about making it a high-roller kind of thing and I didn’t want to do that,” says Ian. “I wanted it to be accessible to people who buy our records. Fans could win seats by playing in the dollar tournaments, so you could literally throw down a dollar and get a chance to win $10,000 in our tournament, which is a pretty good deal.”

Ian also had thoughts on the skills of his friends/competitors. “Jerry is the one I’ve played the most and he’s the best player for sure. He’s really serious about poker—tough, hard to read, and likes to bluff a lot. Slash taught himself how to play by watching Poker After Dark on TV. I think he’s going to be a great player. Kirk, who didn’t make this game, is a real natural talent. I played against him many years ago, but not since I got serious about it.”

So, would Ian the gambler have bet that his band would still be alive and kicking 25 years after their first record? “I would have taken that bet, only because I had the balls at the time. I was that brash, 18-year-old who would have said, ‘Hell yeah we’ll be around!’ without anything to back it up, of course. Too bad no one was giving odds on that.”