Gavin Smith, one of the most colorful and energetic players during poker’s boom era, died Tuesday morning. He was 50 years old.
A native of Guelph, Ontario, Smith was a World Poker Tour champion, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner and a former WPT Player of the Year and amassed $6,321,096 in lifetime tournament earnings. He was a co-host of CardPlayer’s The Circuit radio show and then went on to co-host PokerRoad Radio alongside Joe Sebok and Joe Stapleton.
In recent years, Smith purposely limited his playing schedule to focus on raising his two elementary school-aged sons of whom he had custody. He had lived in Anchorage, Alaska, and most recently in Houston, Texas.
Smith didn’t begin playing poker until his mid-20s. He worked as a poker dealer and eventually opened his own poker club in Ontario before traveling the professional poker circuit.
Smith’s first career cash came in 1998 at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. In 2004-05, he picked up two WPT cashes before bursting onto the scene in a big way in 2005-06.
That year he won the Mirage Poker Showdown, beating Ted Forrest heads-up to win $1,128,278. He followed that up with a third place finish in the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship, a fourth place finish at the World Poker Open and a 30th place finish at the World Poker Challenge. Those four results allowed him to win Season IV WPT Player of the Year.
He cashed in 38 WSOP events, making five final tables, including his bracelet win in the $2,500 Mixed Hold’em event in 2010.
Smith is survived by his two sons. A GoFundMe campaign was launched Smith’s good friend Josh Arieh on Tuesday to benefit the two boys.