Weekly Poker Roundup: January 20, 2019

Gavin Smith Passes Away

The poker world has mourned the passing of Gavin Smith this week, who unexpectedly died at the age of 50. A native of Guelph, Ontario, Smith had adopted the United States as his home.

Smith rose to prominence during the early part of the poker boom, winning the World Poker Tour Player of the Year title in Season IV. Unlike a lot of players who win millions and gain fame, Smith always stayed extremely humble, one of the more relatable players in poker. He was loved by just about everybody; it seemed like everyone considered him a good friend.

After winning his WSOP bracelet in 2010, he told WSOP.com,

“I’m just an older guy from Guelph, Ontario, who used to drive a taxi and cut greens. Now, I’m sitting here and hundreds of people have come over to me. Play poker for a living, and I just won hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is nothing in my life that can be considered a curse. Every single minute of it is a blessing.”

Gavin Smith leaves behind two young children and an unending line of friends. Those friends have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his kids; more than $68,000 has been raised of the $100,000 goal.

PokerStars Launches 6+ Hold’em

PokerStars launched another novelty cash game this past week called 6+ Hold’em, following a line of temporary poker variants throughout 2018 (we assume 6+ is temporary, but PokerStars didn’t clarify in its announcement). In 6+ Hold’em, the Twos through Fives have been removed from the deck leaving, well, the rest of the cards.

Because of the change in the construction of the deck, hand rankings are adjusted. In 6+ Hold’em, a Flush ranks higher than a Full House and a Straight now ranks lower than a Three-of-a-Kind. Essentially, Full Houses and Straights become easier to make than in regular Hold’em because the range of cards is smaller and there are fewer cards in the deck that won’t improve someone’s pair.

In PokerStars’ version of 6+ Hold’em – the game was introduced by iPoker three years ago – games are six-handed, everyone pays an ante, and only the player on the button pays a blind. Clearly, this is a game designed for action.

Chino Rheem Wins PCA Main Event

David “Chino” Rheem won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event on Wednesday, cashing for more than $1.5 million. He now has about $10.5 million in live tournament earnings.

Rheem was a beast at the final table, going into it with the chip lead and never looking back. It took about a hundred hands for much to happen, but when it did, it was all Rheem. He eliminated each and every one of his five competitors on his way to the title.

Rheem went into heads-up play against Daniel Strelitz with a 5-to-1 lead and only took seven hands to finish the job, his pocket Fives beating Strelitz’s A-2 all-in pre-flop.

One interesting non-Rheem note from the final table: Scott Wellenbach, who finished third for almost $700,000, is giving all of his net profits to charity, as he always does.

Wellenbach is a Buddhist who translates Buddhist texts for a living; a major cash he had in 2017 went to a Buddhist nunnery in Nepal. He wasn’t sure where he would send this huge score, but he does already give to Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

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