The poker industry lost a valued member this week after Joe Sartori passed away unexpectedly at the age of 55. Sartori previously worked at both Palace Station and The Palms in Las Vegas before spending the last two years working full-time on the television show Poker Night in America (PNIA).
“Today was a very sad and difficult day as we learned of the passing of our friend and colleague Joe Sartori following a very sudden and unexpected illness,” PNIA said in a statement. “Joe was the guy that would give you the shirt off his back. He was the guy that everyone liked and respected. Joe has been on the Poker Night in America team since near the beginning and was willing to do whatever it took to help out.”
Sartori fell ill a little over a month ago in which he lost his appetite and was unable to keep down food. Eventually, he was diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer and passed away in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 29 surrounded by his family.
Born Sept. 9, 1959 in Minnesota, Sartori headed out west at a young age and eventually found his way to Las Vegas. He found work dealing poker at Palace Station and eventually worked his way up to poker room manager. He would later serve in the same capacity at the Palms when they first opened their poker room.
Years later, Todd Anderson, who founded the Heartland Poker Tour, hired Sartori for his new project — Poker Night in America by Rush Street Gaming.
“Last year at this time I remember him volunteering to help drive our truck from Reno to Pittsburgh when we only had two days to get the equipment there. So Joe and Dave shared the driving and drove non-stop to get there in time,” said Anderson. “I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with Joe over the last few years. It’s very sad to think that he won’t be waiting at the airport in Las Vegas for me next time.”
“Joe was a natural at the job, which was never actually defined,” PNIA media director and noted poker historian Nolan Dalla wrote of Sartori. “Todd just knew he had to have Joe, for whatever the task might be. From day one, he became a jack-of-all-trades who wore many hats. He never asked about the job description nor necessarily even knew what he’d be doing. For Joe, it was all about being involved and working with people.”
Sartori is survived by his brother, Ted; two sisters, Lori and Candy; and nephews and nieces. For those looking to remember Joe, they can do so at the Landmark Funeral Home website.
For a full look back on Sartori’s life, visit Nolan Dalla’s blog post at nolandalla.com.
*Lead photo courtesy of Poker Night in America.