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World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner and poker legend Gavin Smith (cover image) is no more. The Canadian poker professional passed away on January 14 in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas.
The 50-year old player had learned how to play cards by playing cribbage and rummy with his father. He was introduced to poker at the age of 26 when he started playing mixed games with co-workers. By 1991, he had become a poker dealer and set up his own poker club by 1998.
Smith came to fame by winning tournaments in Texas No Limit Hold ’em and Seven Card Stud variants in the 1999 and 2000 World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
His first World Poker Tour (WPT) title win came in May 2005 when he took down the WPT Mirage Poker Showdown in Las Vegas. Defeating Ted Forrest in the heads-up confrontation, Smith pocketed $1,128,278 in prize money. He followed this win by finishing third in the 2nd Annual Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship for $327,610.
Smith’s first brush with the WSOP happened in 2003 when he posted his first score at the world’s biggest poker festival. He finished 16th in the $2,500 Limit Seven Card Stud for $3,260. His first and only gold bracelet came in the $2,500 Mixed Limit/No-Limit Hold’em in 2010 where he collected $268,238 for his win. His total live winnings at the WSOP stand at $1,236,501.
‘Birdguts’, as he was often called, wasn’t just a serious player but also liked to indulge in fun off the felts. In May 2006, Smith had finished runner-up in the WSOP circuit event at Harrah’s New Orleans, winning $293,930. Smith had made a bet with Allie Prescott on who would win. If Smith won, Prescott would give him $70,000 per year for 10 years; if Prescott won, Smith would give him $100,000 per year for 10 years. Peter Feldman went on to win the tournament.
Following this incident, Smith co-starred with Joe Sebok on a show called “Prop Bets” on the Internet-TV site RawVegas.tv. Smith won a bet with Sebok on who would win the most Card Player Magazine points at the 2006 WSOP. As a consequence, Sebok had to wear a bear outfit on Day 1B of the WSOP Main Event, among other funny looking outfits including Wonder Woman. Smith also had to get a tattoo on his upper right shoulder of a four-leaf clover and the initials J.S. after losing a prop bet to Sebok.
He was also a co-host of Card Player’s radio web show The Circuit before Poker Road Radio, where he opened up about his struggles with alcoholism in the past.
“I think I have the illusion of being a very happy person, but on the inside, I’ve got my own personal struggles,” Smith said in 2010.
The news of his passing has hit the poker community hard, with several people expressing their grief and support for his family.
And We’re off. We lost one of our best friends and one of pokers greats tonight. If u knew him u will know the drink. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/KDYG4wAAF6
— Todd Brunson (@ToddBrunson) January 15, 2019
Gavin Smith was one of the more authentic human beings I’d ever met.
Rest In Peace my friend… pic.twitter.com/8sUlQhSxvS
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) January 15, 2019
please share. Gavin loved life, loved his kids and really loved poker. he leaves behind 2 boys that he had full custody of. Lets show his kids just how great the poker community can be! https://t.co/xXpIS2HWx6 via @gofundme
— Joshua Arieh (@golferjosh) January 15, 2019
Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Gavin Smith. WPT Champion and friend to all at the table. pic.twitter.com/brAqdaMay2
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) January 15, 2019
Just heard heartbreaking news about Gavin Smith passing —one of the most genuine + hilarious guys in all of poker. I’ll miss you old friend.
— Sorel Mizzi (@sorelmizzi) January 15, 2019
Just got word that my old friend Gavin Smith has passed away. “The Caveman” was troubled, but kind & generous. I’m glad I was reunited with him last year, where he was able to do what he loved – wreck one of my shows. My thoughts are with his children.
I’ll miss you, ole G.
— Joe Stapleton (@Stapes) January 15, 2019
Gavin Smith is survived by his two sons, Kingston and Keegan.
Cover Image courtesy: Neil Stoddart