As with any year, a number of well known poker faces, and those not so well known too, passed away in 2015.
Here, we remember some of them.
Back in March, the news broke that 61 year old Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott, who had live tournament winnings in excess of $6.2 million and a World Series of Poker bracelet to his credit, was battling cancer. Less than a month later, he sadly left us.
“It is a hand that life has thrown at me,” Ulliott said of the diagnosis. “All my life I have had rubbish hands and I have managed to turn them around. It is what I am good at and this is no different.
“When I found out the news, I shouted the wife and told her we were going out for a meal,” continued Ulliott, never one to take things too seriously. “But I said I’d better not order a dessert because things were not looking that good.”
Also in March, the co-creator of The Simpsons, Sam Simon, 59, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Simon was also a renowned animal advocate, philanthropist, and poker aficionado, and had live tournament winnings of over $350k.
A month later, Robert Paul “Eskimo” Clark, 67, passed away. Eskimo’s first-ever cash came in the 1988 WSOP when he finished eighth in Event #5: $1,000 Limit Omaha for $4,560. Three years later, he won his first gold bracelet when he took down Event #14: $5,000 Limit Seven-Card Stud for $122,000. Eskimo would go on to capture two more bracelets — 1999 WSOP Event #2: $1,500 Razz for $84,610 and 2002 WSOP Event #7: $1,500 Limit Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low for $125,200.
In early May, the poker world lost two very different players in WSOP Circuit regular Robert “Uncle Krunk” Panitch, 63, and Mexico’s Gerardo “Chiclick” Godinez, 34. The former passed away in his sleep from a supposed heart attack. Godinez, who ranked eighth on Mexico’s all-time money list, was killed in a car accident on his way to play a poker tournament.
On June 23, entertainment icon Dick Van Patten, 86, passed away due to complications with his diabetes. Van Patten’s résumé in the entertainment world is legendary, but less known is that from 1993-95 he served as commentator for the WSOP.
In August, Chad “lilholdem954” Batista, born in 1981, passed away suddenly. “It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved son, nephew, cousin, brother and friend, Chad ‘lilholdem954’ Batista,” his family revealed in a statement. “Chad died suddenly this beautiful Thursday afternoon with his family surrounding him. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers.”
Most recently, Dianna Donofrio-Trigatzi, 69, passed away on December 14 after a long battle with cancer. Known for her poker advocacy, Donofrio-Trigatzi previously served as Nevada State Director for the Poker Players Alliance and is known for advancing the game in the years surrounding the poker boom.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at LateReg are with those affected by the loss of a loved one in 2015.