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The hilarious story of how Phil Mickelson rigged a hand of poker against his brother

June 02, 2020

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Funny stories. They’re as much a part of golf as birdies and bogeys. Through the years, Golf Digest has been lucky enough to share time with some of the legendary storytellers and characters in the game. Senior Writer Guy Yocom deserves special recognition for his My Shot series of interviews, prominent here with excerpts from other amazing features and columns through the decades.

Something you’ll notice: One of the most appealing qualities of good jokesters is the ability to laugh at themselves as well as with others. And the best part? Our team of writers and photographers keep adding to the comedic moments, month by month. Here’s one such example below, but we have excerpted dozens of our favorite stories in the digital edition of Issue 6 of our magazine, which is available now for free. Click here for more.

Tim Mickelson: A bad bet with brother Phil, January 2016

Phil is seven years older than me, so when we played football indoors, he’d level the playing field—a little. He had to play on his knees, and I got to run. He had to tackle me, and I just had to two-hand touch him. He’d hike the ball to himself, and just when I’d go to touch him, he’d toss the ball in the air and claim the touch didn’t count because the ball was airborne. He did a lot of stuff like that. He always won.

One afternoon it was so hot outside we stayed in the houseboat. Phil had taught me how to play poker—for money—and all I had was a small bucket full of pennies. I left to use the bathroom, and when I came back, Phil dealt me a straight flush, king-high. I ran to my room, got the bucket and dumped the whole thing into the pot. Phil calls the bet and reveals he’s got a royal flush. Imagine that. He took every penny.

Much later, he admitted he’d stacked the deck when I left the room. He bought me a lot of dinners to make up for it. But he never did give me my pennies back.