As we continue to talk about the growth and expansion of the poker community, let’s not forget the poker players who have left for their heavenly abode, leaving behind a legacy that will always be spoken about and be inspirational for generations to come.
In this article, let’s remember the poker players we lost but who will forever live in our memories.
Doyle Brunson (1933-2023)
The world of poker lost a legend on 14th May 2023. The Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson, who survived cancer at the age of 30, left for his heavenly abode at the age of 89 years. His contributions to the world of poker need no introduction. He has 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, thee second highest in the world. He won two WSOP Main Events back to back in 1976 and 1977 respectively. He was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in the year 1988. He authored a book named ‘Super/System’, which is to date widely regarded as one of the most important books on poker.
Kat De Sol
Swedish-Indian poker player Kat De Sol passed away in New Delhi on 21st March 2023. The female player apparently died of a cardiac arrest unexpectedly. She played online on Zynga Poker and also participated in live poker series like Deltin Poker Tournament (DPT) Xpress February 2020, where she reportedly had a good run.
Ivan Leow (1982-2022)
On 19th September 2022, Triton Poker co-founder Ivan Leow unexpectedly passed away from an apparent heart attack at the age of 39. Apart from his entrepreneurial venture, Malaysian was a highly regarded player in the industry with multiple titles to his name. His sudden passing away brought shock and grief to the entire poker fraternity.
Panayote Vilandos (1940-2022)
Panayote Vilandos, also known as Pete Vilandos or Pete the Greek, died on 24th July 2022 at the age of 82. Vilandos had three WSOP bracelets to his name. AT the time of his death, he had $3,266,764 in live tournament earnings.
Kelvin Beattie passed away in February 2022 after a prolonged battle with cancer at the age of 44. Beattie was an old-school online poker legend, who was once ranked the number one poker player in Australia. He was also the owner and founder of the owner of the PokerNerve, a poker training site
Layne Flack (1969 – 2021)
Six-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner and poker legend Layne Flack died on 19th July 2021 at the age of 52. The professional poker player reportedly died in his sleep at his home in Las Vegas. The news of his death was shared by poker pro Mike Matusow in his tweet. Flack was a South Dakota native, who won his first bracelet in 1999. He was popularly known by the nickname ‘Back-to-Back Flack’ due to his two consecutive victories at Legends of Poker events in August 1999. In 2002 and 2003, Flack won two consecutive WSOP gold bracelets, keeping up to his nickname.
Poker Pro Jim Petzing died of lung cancer on 29th June 2021. Petzing was a well-known and respected name in the poker circuit. The Connecticut-born, permanently shifted to Las Vegas to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional poker player. The news of his demise was shared by Chris Fleszar in a Facebook post. Petzing first battled neck cancer and successfully recovered from it in 2015. Three-year later, he was diagnosed with Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer. He lost his battle with the disease and died in June 2021. During his days of battling cancer, the poker pro penned a book called ‘Breathe: Living My Best Life With Chronic Lung Cancer.’
Noel Furlong (1937 – 2021)
Former WSOP Main Event winner, Noel Furlong passed away on 27th June 2021 due to natural causes at the age of 83. The Irish player made history by shipping the 1999 WSOP Main Event for $1 million. Prior to winning the WSOP Main Event, Furlong had claimed the Irish Poker Open title twice in 1987 and 1989. Apart from playing poker, Furlong was the founder of his own venture called Furlong Flooring, which manufactures carpets and floor products. He headed his business which is based in Kildare, Ireland. And poker wasn’t the only sport Furlong enjoyed, he had also established a name for himself in the horse racing industry.
Aman Kejriwal (1988 – 2021)
Indian poker player Aman Kejriwal died on 24th April 2021 at the age of 33 years. Kejriwal tested positive for COVID-19 on 19th April 2021 and succumbed to the complications of the virus just six days later, while he was on his way to the hospital in Durgapur. The young player’s unexpected death left the Indian poker fraternity in shock. One of his most notable poker achievements was finishing fifth at the final table of the ₹5,750 NLHE freezeout tournament in April 2015 at India Poker Championship (IPC) in Goa. He had also been to Las Vegas and had cashed in two bracelet events in World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2019.
Henry Orenstein (1923 – 2021)
Poker pro and former Hall of Fame inductee, Henry Orenstein passed away on 14th December 2021 at the age of 98. Orenstein was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2008. He was also inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006. The Poland-born was also an entrepreneur by profession. He is also the inventor of the hole-card camera. He became a successful toy-maker after migrating to the US. Orenstein found televised poker shows dull without being able to see a player’s hole cards. Hence, he invented the hole-card camera.
Tommy Hufnagle (1944 – 2021)
Former WSOP bracelet winner Tommy Hufnagle died on 21st May 2021 at 77 years of age. The poker legend had previously suffered a heart attack in February, which left him incapacitated and unresponsive. Hufnagle made his way to Las Vegas in the early 1970s. The Pennsylvania-born has 10 tournament victories to his name. He won prestigious titles like Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker, Gold Coast Open, and Hall of Fame Poker Classic among others.
Matt Marafioti (1988 – 2021)
Poker pro Matt Marafioti was found dead in August this year. His death gave rise to a lot of speculation. Reports suggest that Marafioti committed suicide, however, it hasn’t been confirmed. The news came just days after the Canadian pro took to Instagram describing the concerns of danger and the plight he faced. Reports also suffered mental illness.
Howard Andrew (1934 – 2021)
Howard Andrew, whowas also popularly known by the moniker ‘Tahoe,’ died on 13th January 2021 at the age of 86. Andrew had been playing poker for six decades before he passed away. The two-time bracelet winner was known to have played the Main Event of the WSOP every year from 1974 till 2018. He was the only player to hold the record of playing the WSOP ME for 45 consecutive years.
We remember and celebrate the lives and legacy of these poker maestros who left us this year. Rest in peace, legends.
Note: This article includes players who lost their lives 2021 onwards.
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by expressing herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in anything that satisfies her creative self, like drawing and DIY crafts.
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