Longtime Poker Player Sam Grizzle Dies at 67

Longtime Poker Player Sam Grizzle Dies at 67

The new generation of poker players may not be familiar with Sam Grizzle, but those in the game for a decade or more have at least heard of him. He was one of the old-school players, one who had a distinct personality and a penchant for gambling.

At the age of 67, Sam Grizzle died suddenly this week. He had a stroke, which sent him into a coma, soon to the point of no return. His family pulled him from life support the following day.

Many in the poker community have been sharing stories and remembering him in the past few days. Meanwhile, his daughter is raising a significant sum of money through a GoFundMe campaign for a proper memorial and burial.

A Life Off the Poker Grid

There are few older poker players, ones who played actively long before the poker boom, that have remained a mystery. Most of Grizzle’s life is just that – a mystery. After an extensive search, we found no bio or player profile that explains his family life or the early days of his poker career.

What we know is that he was 67 when he died this week, just short of his 68th birthday.

He seems to have one grown daughter, Alexa (Lexie) Grizzle, who had just recently celebrated her 20th birthday. According to her, he dropped down in game stakes in last few years to help support her and her mother, Gina.

“I had serious issues of my own,” she wrote, “which devastated him, but he did everything he could to help me. I overcame my addictions with his support. He was so proud of me, and I remember him saying to me about a month ago, ‘I can die a happy man knowing you’re safe now.’”

A Poker Career

Grizzle’s lengthy Hendon Mob page dates back to 1988, though it only reflects tournament action. He famously rode a roller coaster in the cash game world, but that is something for his friends to share if they wish.

His first tournament victory was at the Super Stars of Poker in Tahoe in 1989. He won the $2,500 NLHE event for $65,813. The final tables were frequent, and the wins continued through the years. Some of those wins took place at the Diamond Jim Brady series and L.A. Poker Classic in Southern California, Queens Poker Classic in Las Vegas, World Poker Finals in Connecticut, and the Jack Binion World Poker Open in Tunica.

Along the way, Grizzle made several WSOP final tables in Limit Hold’em and Seven Card Stud events.

In more recent times, Grizzle won a HORSE tournament at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza in Las Vegas in 2011, and he made the final table of the 2016 WPTDeepStacks Main Event at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa.

Just this summer, when the World Series of Poker took its action online due to the coronavirus pandemic, Grizzle logged on to the WSOP website from his Las Vegas home to play. He did quite well, starting off with a third-place finish in the $600 NLHE Monster Stack event for $77,725 and cashing in six other events.

Temper, Temper

Grizzle’s passion for poker took different forms, not always pleasant. He was known for verbally sparring with numerous players over the years. On the other hand, his dry humor entertained opponents through the years.

One of his most famous feuds was with Phil Hellmuth. It started long before television audiences caught a glimpse of it on the 2003 WSOP Main Event broadcast on ESPN. Commentator Norman Chad explained that the two once famously argued at a Binion’s poker table and took their issues outside. Grizzle punched Hellmuth in the face.

Per PokerNews, Hellmuth’s side of the story included both of them landing punches.

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Poker Community Contributes and Pays Tribute

It seems that Grizzle was playing an online poker tournament when he had his stroke.

His daughter said he suffered a “sudden massive hemorrhagic stroke” on October 18, and the bleeding intensified enough to put him into a coma. Not long after the medical experts pronounced him brain-dead, his family removed him from life support per Sam’s wishes.

Grizzle officially died at 7:19pm on October 20.

As mentioned, Lexie established a GoFundMe to help her and her mother with funeral and burial costs. In just four days, she has raised more than $15,500.

She also took to Twitter to read some of the throngs of memories of her father. She also shared photos and video clips.

The memorial is likely to be in Las Vegas, but it is unclear if it will be open to the public, considering the pandemic. Meanwhile, the poker world continues to express condolences and share stories about one of poker’s most entertaining players, Sam Grizzle.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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