Poker Pro Gavin Smith Unexpectedly Passes Away at Age 50

Gavin Smith

Details are scarce at the moment but PokerNews has learned from multiple sources that popular poker pro Gavin Smith, 50, unexpectedly passed away Monday night in Texas.

Smith, born September 4, 1968, rose to poker prominence during the poker boom after winning the World Poker Tour Season IV Mirage Poker Championship for a career-high $1,128,278 and then the WPT Season IV (2005) Player of the Year title.

Other highlights on his poker résumé include finishing second in the 2008 WPT North American Poker Championship in Niagara Falls for $542,129, winning the 2006 World Pro-Am Challenge for $500,000, and capturing his first and only bracelet in the 2010 World Series of Poker Event #44: $2,500 Limit/NLH for $268,238.

Mark Kroon on Gavin: "One of the funniest and fun guys in poker and life.”

Throughout his professional poker career, Smith amassed $6,321,096 in tournament earnings dating back to 1998.

Capturing a WSOP Bracelet

According to the WSOP at the time, it was “the one achievement that had eluded the fast-living, hard-drinking, Butterball-shaped poker superstar was the long-coveted WSOP victory.”

For Smith himself, it was a life-changing and career-affirming moment.

“Yeah, I seem to be pretty good at screwing things up. I have had a lot of issues through the years,” he said in his winner interview. “I know this year I came in trying to try my ass off. I have not always done that. In the past, I sometimes went out and got drunk or hung out. But this year, I decided to come in and try to play my best the whole time. I came in and the first several events I kept getting my teeth kicked in. I was playing well. I was playing my best. But I wasn’t seeing the results. And then when I cashed in the Heads-Up that helped. Then, the last three days everything just clicked. I played well and things went well and everything clicked at the right time.”

Known for his sense of humor, Smith’s many television appearances including Poker After Dark, Late Night Poker, and NBC’s Face the Ace.

Born in Canada, Smith learned cards, primarily rummy and cribbage, from his father before discovering poker at the age of 26.

“I’m just an older guy from Guelph, Ontario, who used to drive a taxi and cut greens,” Smith once said.

Poker World Reacts

News of Smith’s passing began to circulate on social media Tuesday morning with several friends and fellow poker pros expressing their disbelief.

Will Failla: "Today the poker community is in a darker place."

“I can’t believe he is gone,” said friend Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon. “I will miss him so much. One of the funniest and fun guys in poker and life.”

Poker Hall of Famer Todd Brunson echoed those sentiments: “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.”

Will “The Thrill” Failla had this to say: “Today the poker community is in a darker place, My friend Gavin Smith died last night! You will be missed by all! RIP my friend.”

Eric Crain, known for his own jovial disposition, offered the following: “I met Gavin at the first WSOPC event I ever played in Tahoe. He had a way of making everybody laugh and was a joy to be around. RIP to one of the good guys. The poker world is worse off without Gavin in it.”

Finally, Steve Roselius touched upon the defining characteristic of Smith’s life – becoming a father: “So terrible. He was such a devoted father. Raising kids was so meaningful to him.”

This is a developing story. PokerNews will bring you further details once they become available.

  • The poker world was shocked to learn Gavin Smith, 50, unexpectedly passed away Monday night in Texas.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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