Last week, Dr. Jerry Buss, long-time high-stakes poker player and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, passed away after a long battle with cancer. The loss of Buss, who is best known for bringing 10 NBA championships to town and being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, was heartbreaking to both the sports world and to the poker industry, a fact evidenced on Day 1 of the L.A. Poker Classic when the World Poker Tour paid homage to legend.
As the WPT said in their blog:
"Buss was an avid poker player, friend, fan and a regular on the California poker scene since the early ’80s. He placed third in the 1991 World Series of Poker seven-card stud event. Dr. Buss entered the national poker spotlight when he took second place in the WPT Celebrity Invitational in 2003 and followed that up with appearances on NBC’s Poker After Dark, the $25K National Heads-Up Championship and GSN’s High Stakes Poker... Buss played the WPT L.A. Poker Classic multiple times throughout the 11 years that the event has taken place — Seasons 3, 4 and 6 — and also played the WPT Celebrity Invitational — Seasons 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9 — and WPT Legends of Poker Season 4."
In addition, the WPT honored Buss on Saturday, February 23, as WPT Commentator Mike Sexton paid tribute to Buss before the start of the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. According to the WPT live blog, Sexton told a story about Buss and Layne Flack, the man who had won the Celebrity Invitational back in 2003. "That's the guy that I made famous," Sexton said Buss would say every time he saw Flack before adding that the episode from that event is one of the highest rated in the WPT's 11-year history.
Finally, the WPT put together a tribute video for Buss featuring his various successes on the World Poker Tour:
*Lead photo of Jerry Buss courtesy of the WPT Blog and graciously provided by photographer Melissa Hayden.