Gavin Smith was one of poker’s most recognizable figures from the “poker boom” era of the 2000s and early 2010s. One of poker’s most beloved figures, Smith forged an unmistakable presence in just about any poker tournament or television show he took part in over his 20-year career in the game.
Smith passed away on January 14, 2019, at just 50 years old. His death is still mourned in the poker community, but the legacy of one of the game’s true characters still lives on.
Here’s a look at the career and legacy of Gavin Smith:
Gavin Smith Poker Tournament Results and Biggest Cashes
Gavin Smith’s career tournament earnings total $6,321,096 according to the Hendon Mob database. His top five tournament cashes were as follows:
- 2005 $10,000 WPT Mirage Poker Showdown No Limit Hold’em Championship (1st – $1,128,278)
- 2008 C$10,000 North American Poker Championship Niagra Falls (2nd – $542,129)
- 2006 World Pro-Am Challenge Las Vegas (1st – $500,000)
- 2005 Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship (3rd – $327,610)
- 2006 WSOP Circuit New Orleans $10,000 Championship Event (2nd – $293,930)
Memorable Hands and Prop Bets
Gavin Smith made regular appearances on poker boom-era television shows like Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and ESPN’s World Series of Poker broadcasts. Many of Smith’s most memorable television hands can be enjoyed with a PokerGO subscription.
While a lot of Smith’s biggest hands are locked in the PokerGO vault, he did appear a few times on shows like Poker Night in America late in his career. Let’s take a look at a hand that sees Smith and Mike Dentale go at it in a heads-up battle between two of poker’s most outspoken personalities:
This hand plays out in a $25/$50 cash game, soon after Dentale sits down at the table. Esther Taylor opens to $150 preflop with 9♠9♣, Dentale flat calls on the button with 8♦7♦, and Smith 3-bets to $675 with Q♠Q♣ in the small blind.
Dentale reaches over to Smith’s chest to check for heartbeat speed, while Taylor laments her previous bad luck with pocket nines before folding. Dentale makes a quick call and goes heads-up to the flop against Smith.
The flop comes T♠2♦9♦, which would have given Taylor a set of nines and made this hand even more interesting. Smith continues for $1,100 with his overpair still ahead, but Dentale shoves for $10,325 with his combo draw.
Smith, still a slight mathematical favorite, thinks things over for a couple of minutes before folding. Dentale tells Smith he made a good fold, although we can see that Smith should have made the call.
Gavin Smith Poker Prop Bet Vs. Phil Laak
YouTube videos showing Gavin Smith’s biggest hands might be scarce, but we do have this 2008 video for the World Poker Tour that covers a prop bet between Smith and Phil “Unabomber” Laak.
The premise is simple: can Smith stuff 15 marshmallows in his mouth in 150 seconds?
Other Notable Gavin Smith Poker Results and Accomplishments
Smith won one WSOP bracelet in his career, which came in 2010 in a $2,500 Limit/No-Limit Hold’em event. That win lifted the “best player to never win a bracelet” qualifier off of Smith. Overall, Smith posted cashes of six figures or better 17 times in his career.
Smith, who played on Full Tilt Poker under the screen name “Birdguts”, was a Full Tilt Poker pro and a ubiquitous presence on poker television shows in the 2000s and early 2010s. As per the above video, Smith was also well-known for making prop bets with his fellow poker pros.
Death and Legacy
Smith’s death in January 2019 stunned the poker world. Just 50 years old at the time, Smith leaves behind a legacy as one of poker’s most unique and memorable characters.
Just before the 2019 World Series of Poker, the Rio Las Vegas hosted the Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament, which drew some of poker’s biggest names to celebrate the memory of Smith.
“G. Smith was such a wonderful guy, and he was such a wonderful connector,” Phil Hellmuth told PokerNews at the charity tournament.
“He’s one of those guys that just made you laugh all the time, and he would do anything for you,” added Mark Kroon. “Once he got his kids, his whole entire life was his kids.”
Many of Smith’s cohorts in the poker community echoed similar sentiments about the boisterous, unmistakable, and beloved poker pro. As the poker industry churns on in the 2020s, Smith’s character and presence over his two-decade career will likely never be forgotten.
Related reading: The most memorable WSOP hands of all time.
WSOP Magic: Top 10 Memorable Hands from the World Series of Poker