WSOP Hosts Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament

Poker player Gavin Smith

The World Series of Poker plans to honor departed poker pro Gavin Smith with a charity tournament on May 28. The Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 28 at 6pm. 50% of the proceeds from entry fees and re-entry fees go to the Gavin Smith Trust.

Poker commentator Joe Stapleton will host a tribute for Gavin Smith, Comedy for the Caveman, on Wednesday, May 29 at 9pm. Entertainers (and Smith friends) like Ben Ludlow and Jess Welman will perform at the tribute, which takes place at Las Vegas’s The Space.

The Gavin Smith Trust is dedicated to provide for Smith’s children, Kingston and Keegan. Josh Ariah founded the trust after the untimely passing of the 50-year-old Smith earlier this year.

Gavin Smith won on WSOP bracelet (2010), while he finished 52nd in the seminal 2003 WSOP Main Event that started the Poker Boom. He won the 2005 World Poker Tour (WPT) Mirage Poker Showdown and collected $1,128,278 in winnings. To win the event, Smith had to beat Hall of Famer Ted Forrest heads-up.

Gavin Smith’s Poker Career

Gavin Smith began playing poker at the relatively late age of 26. His childhood card games had been rummy and cribbage, but he began playing mixed events with co-workers. Only a year later (1996), he became fascinated enough with the game that he became a poker dealer.

In 1998, Gavin Smith started his own poker club. He continued his association with the global poker community up to the time of his death in January. Through that time, Gavin Smith made countless friends among card players. He also forged ties with those around the margins of the poker community.

Brought Warmth and Humor to Poker Games

It is rare for the World Series of Poker to host tribute events for poker players, even those more famous than this particular player. Gavin Smith was known for bringing warmth and humor to poker tables, though. Smith gathered a large group of friends among the card players and entertainers he met through his poker profession.

In a time when mathematical whizzes and game analysts dominate the highest levels of poker, throwbacks like Gavin Smith should be celebrated. He’s a reminder that colorful figures and bon vivants once brought a different vibe to live events.

Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament

The buy-in for the Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament will be $200. The event rules also allow unlimited rebuys to the tournament. WSOP officials will spread the Gavin Smith Memorial Tournament event rake-free, with 50% of entry money going to the deceased’s fund.

Josh Ariah set up a GoFundMe page for the Gavin Smith Trust. The page continues to accept funds for those who cannot attend the event.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for more than a decade. He worked for Small World Marketing for years, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. He's covered US and international gambling news on,, and since 2014.


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