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Catching up With WPT Player of the Year Gavin Smith

Catching up With WPT Player of the Year Gavin Smith 0001

What a thirteen months it has been for poker pro Gavin Smith. A little over a year ago, Gavin was the epitome of the tour grinder, working his butt off playing many of the smaller events on the poker tour, and playing the big ones when he could.

The results came, but slowly, and as many of the tour player's experience, keeping his head above water was Gavin's biggest challenge. Gavin kept his sprits high, and with supportive, and helpful friends like Erick Lindgren, he walked into the 2005 Mirage Poker Showdown series ready to play – and play he did. A win in a preliminary event got his confidence rolling, and then 10 days later, a win in the WPT $10,000 at Mirage was the breakthrough Gavin had been looking for.

Now, a little over a year later, Gavin is the World Poker Tour player of the year, and his life is a whole lot different than it was growing up in the town of Guelph, Ontario Canada. Guelph is about 2,200 miles from the lights of Las Vegas, but this year has taken Gavin a lot farther. I caught up with him recently, and asked him what is going on in his new life.

John: It's been just over a year since your breakthrough win at the Mirage Poker Showdown. What's changed the most for you in the last year.

Gavin: Well, {laughs} I have money now. Before that win, I was kinda broke. I guess that's a pretty big change. Its nice now to go into a tournament and to be one of the guys that is known, and feared a little bit. I think that has helped my game in that people give me more respect than they used to, and as such you can be a little more liberal, and a little more aggressive.

John: But, at the same time, you can't sneak up on anyone anymore, can you?

Gavin: No, you can't sneak up on people. Pretty much anyone in poker knows who I am know, so I have to go about it a bit of a different way.

John: What are your plans for the series? Are you going to play the $50k HORSE event?

Gavin: I am going to play the $50K HORSE. I plan on playing pretty much every event. I may take a Stud event or two off, but I'm pretty much going to play every event.

John: What about for the rest of the year? I saw you at that Poker Dome party, and 12 hours later you were in New Orleans at the circuit event, and almost led the thing wire to wire. Is that pretty much the type of schedule you're going to try to maintain for the rest of the year?

Gavin: Yes, I will play as many of the $10k events as I can fit into my schedule. Sometimes they overlap, and occasionally you have to miss one, but yes – I want to play a full schedule this year.

John: It seems every top pro has a book or a DVD these days. Are you going to do something like that?

Gavin: I'm doing a DVD for a company called Vegas Maximus. This is going to be a DVD that sort of tries to tell people a little more about how I play poker, which is a little bit of an unorthodox style. My style is a little different than much of the common poker literature tells you is the correct way to play. I don't see myself writing a strategy book.

John: You told me a really inspiring story recently about a little girl whose story has touched you. She has a charity you are trying to help. Tell me a bit about that.

Gavin: There is a little girl named Peyton Novoa from Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. She is 2 ½ years old. Her mother, Natasha, was diagnosed with small cell ovarian cancer last December, and passed away at 29 years old this past March.

So, what we're trying to do is we're trying to raise some money for this little girl Peyton, whose family went through some financial hardships throughout the mother's treatment, as well as raise some money for ovarian cancer research.

So, we have developed a website called We have it set up so that you can do cash donations. But, we also have an auction going on. The auction pieces will also run on Ebay, so people can bid on the items online. The final auction dates will be August 1st. We have some really cool stuff to auction off. We have a package from the Bellagio, a package from ESPN, a lot of cool signed poker memorabilia, hats pictures, shirts, etc from people like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Grinder, and more. We have a whole lot of really cool stuff that I think poker fans will enjoy. Hopefully, we can make this little girl a lot of money.

John: Great. Now that you are a public figure, do you feel more of a responsibility to do charity work, and things of that nature?

Gavin: I don't think as poker people we should feel compelled to do things – I think as people we should feel compelled to do things. We're people that have been given a tremendous opportunity, and tremendous gifts, and we do well financially. I really think it important for people who are more fortunate to give back to others, and help out.

I give to a lot of charities, but its just giving money. If I'm going to throw heart & soul into a charity, it's gotta be something that really touches me. This girl's story really touched me. Richmond Hill is very close to where I grew up, and I just found it to be a really sad story.

John: That's good work, Gavin. I hope we can help out a bit by raising awareness. Anything else for today?

Gavin: Nope. Just that I look forward to talking to you after I win the WSOP Main Event in August.

John: Great attitude. I look forward to that chat myself. Thanks for the time.

Ed Note: Gavin plays online poker at Full Tilt why don't you?

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