Dual Tragedies Darken WSOP

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is a time of celebration in the poker world and while there has been plenty of excitement and joy for many this year, two tragedies have marred the poker festival for much of the poker community.

The first occurred Friday night, June 14th. During a 30-minute break of the $3,000 Mixed Max No Limit Hold’em Event, Kevin “Phwap” Boudreau collapsed in the parking lot of a nearby Subway restaurant. According to his close friend, physician and poker player Dave “Irieguy” Elliott, Boudreau “…had a ruptured arterio-venous malformation in his brain, a congenital condition that has essentially been a ticking time bomb for him since probably birth.” The rupture caused a “massive intracranial hemorrhage” that required immediate surgery if there was to be any hope for survival. Fortunately, Boudreau did make it to the operating room in time, but was still in “grave condition” a couple days later.

Doctors induced a coma and Boudreau remains in that state today. On Tuesday, June 18th, Jim Boudreau, Kevin’s father, posted an update to say that the outlook “doesn’t appear to be too promising.” The next day, Dave Elliott posted on Two Plus Two that as of 11:00am Las Vegas time, “Kevin had an MRI today which showed some slight improvement in swelling and no new worrisome findings. The report was as good as possible, but his prognosis is unchanged. He is still in a coma and his condition is essentially the same as it has been for the past few days.”

Kevin Boudreau is one of the unique players that is universally loved in the poker community. Said Elliott of his friend, “He is one of the best human beings I have ever known.”

Poster “Dominic” on Two Plus Two wrote, “Kevin really is a great guy. One of the nicest, friendliest people I’ve ever met. His girlfriend, Sam, is just as sweet. My thoughts are with them both.”

Boudreau’s family has started a fundraiser on YouCaring.com in an effort to raise $50,000 that will be needed for medical costs. The bulk of this ($40,000+), according to the webpage, is the cost of transporting Kevin back home to Colorado. To date, just over $14,000 has been donated.

The second tragedy struck this past Thursday night. 86-year old Dick Turnbull, the oldest dealer at the World Series of Poker, was struck and killed by a car as he crossed Rainbow Boulevard south of Spring Valley Parkway.

“We’re devastated to hear one of the WSOP’s own is no longer with us,” a WSOP spokesperson said in a prepared statement. “Richard Turnbull has been dealing poker for 38 years, has been an American hero serving his country as part of the Navy in World War II and was emblematic of all that is good. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family.”

Some members of the Two Plus Two message board remembered Turnbull, saying things like, “I always found him to be an excellent dealer and an all-around nice guy,” and “one of the good guys. loved by all that knew him.”

Famed poker player and author Mike Caro wrote about Turnbull on his blog. The two met in the early 1960’s and quickly became friends; Turnbull was a leadership trainer for Great Books discussion groups and trained Caro to be one of those leaders. One fascinating story Caro told was about how he had an unknown connection to Doyle Brunson, thanks to Turnbull, well before Caro and Brunson had ever met. Unfortunately, that connection also had to do with heartbreak.

Turnbull, Caro’s mother, and another woman were driving to a Great Books meeting when they were struck by a drunk driver. Turnbull obviously survived, but Caro’s mother did not, passing away at the scene. Unbeknownst to Caro, Turnbull was also present at a horrific moment in Brunson’s life, when Brunson’s leg was crushed by a load of sheetrock during a summer job. That injury derailed a potential pro basketball career, but kick-started Brunson’s poker career.

The thoughts of the staff at Poker News Daily go out to families of Kevin Boudreau and Dick Turnbull in these trying times.