Facing the Firing Squad: Brad Willis
Brad Willis (a.k.a. “Otis”)
Brad Willis is a popular writer and blogger from Greenville, South Carolina.
He’s a former award-winning television reporter who now spends most of his time writing fiction and non-fiction. His articles and essays on numerous subjects — from poker to poker to philosophy to being a dad — have been widely published in various newspapers, magazines, and websites.
Within the poker world, he’s best known as the official blogger for the PokerStars. Brad spends much of his time writing from home and occasionally traveling the world writing about poker events, where he’s one of the most respected voices in the business.
Willis grew up near the Ozark Mountains. He earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism from one of the best schools in the country in that field — the University of Missouri. Willis spent the next few years working as a reporter in the Midwest. He eventually moved on to South Carolina where he landed a job with the news department of a television station. He covered crime and politics, which led to a breakthrough career progression. From Willis’ official website comes the following:
“He covered one of the first notable school shootings and the decades late conviction of Ku Klux Klansman Samuel Bowers. He reported from the South Carolina State Capitol building as the Confederate Flag was lowered from its dome for the last time. Willis also created a series of reports that held politicians accountable for the truthfulness in their advertising, a formula that has been oft-repeated in the years since. That series won the National Headliner Award Best of Show. Willis’ investigative reporting received several awards from the Associated Press, Southeast Regional Emmy Awards, South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and the National Headliner Awards.”
In 2005, Willis ventured off in a totally different direction. He joined PokerStars.com as their lead blogger. In the years since then, Willis has written thousands of blogs and articles not only about poker but about the people in the game and the many issues and controversies that have been a part of poker’s growth. He also continues to freelance write on a variety of subjects (readers are encouraged to read his essays and works of fiction). His official website contains many of his best writings and can be found here:
Willis’s level of respect from his readers is surpassed only by the esteem he enjoys within the inner circle of the poker press. He’s a consistent voice of reason, optimism, and enlightenment. Today, Willis resides in Greenville, along with his wife and two sons.
If you’d like to get in touch with Brad Willis, and I urge you to do so, you can reach him in the following ways:
GOOGLE+: Brad Willis
What are some of the things you stand for?
Altruism, honesty, dangerously hot showers, relentless curiosity, a well-crafted cocktail, indiscriminate hugging, tolerance, loyalty, and the Oxford comma
What are some of the things you stand against?
Well-done beef, disingenuous discourse, impatience, deep-dish pizza, blind allegiance, and fear-mongering
What living person do you admire the most, and why?
My mother, a woman whose only fault is that she never thinks of herself first. Or second. Or third.
What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), a man who with words alone could skewer and char the worst of American culture, politics, and religion. His legacy of decency and cleverly-cloaked activism make him an American hero.
What living person do you despise?
I feel like I need to know a person to despise him, and I don’t despise anyone I know. But I despise what Reverend Fred Phelps, the Koch Brothers, Glenn Beck, and their supporters–tacit and otherwise–represent. They are America’s cultural cancer.
If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?
I would be a writer moonlighting as a guy who sings cover songs to open-air beach bar tourists in St. John.
What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
Against all odds, I have family and friends who tell me they love me and seem to mean it. Also, I make a mean gumbo.
What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?
I wish I were an extrovert instead of an introvert posing as an extrovert. I could also do it with a smaller nose and a better hairline.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve been the first to hear a murderer’s confession. I’ve been (lightly) assaulted by another murderer. I’ve chased a bank robber and had him insult my mother. I’ve taken cover during a firefight between cops and cop killers. But my heart has never beaten faster than when my kids were born.
What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?
Though I’ve traveled the world and seen much, it was covering the fifth trial (the first four resulted in mistrials) of Samuel Bowers (White Knights of the KKK co-founder) for the murder of Vernon Dahmer. It transported me from 1998 to one of America’s most shameful and horrific periods.
Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.
I need to spend some time in Australia and New Zealand.
Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.
Oddly, this question makes me more uncomfortable than the rest. Books, movies, and films are like children. I can’t play favorites. In books, I’ve recently I’ve loved Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Super Sad True Love Story. My iTunes account is overrun with Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Gram Parsons, The Wood Brothers, and the Black Crowes. I’m inordinately excited about seeing John Fogerty this summer. And I’ve seen Goodfellas and Fargo more times than any reasonable person should.
What upsets you the most?
A child’s suffering, pain, fear, or death and those people who can easily ignore it or consider it collateral damage if it counters their belief system.
What bores you?
Small talk, rice pilaf, foolish consistency, sports trivia, scripted reality television, know-it-alls, green tea, Kansas (the state, not the band)
Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?
The answer to this question often conjures (often incorrect) presumptions about a person’s belief system, which is why I think it’s more interesting and instructive to measure a man and the strength of his character by whether he could act morally today without the promise of everlasting life or punishment of eternal hellfire. Or better put, how would you conduct your life if you knew there was no afterlife?