Over the weekend, the poker world received the sad news that popular Northern California player David “Beast” Valdez passed away at the age of 29 from an apparent heart attack.
Valdez was known throughout the NorCal region, which is where he captured a trio of World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit gold rings, as well as World Poker Tour, WPTDeepStacks, and Ante Up Poker Tour side event titles,
According to The Hendon Mob, Valdez amassed $374,010 in live tournament earnings dating back to 2013. The majority of his winnings came at Thunder Valley Casino Resort outside of Sacramento; in fact, his five biggest scores came at the venue. That included a career-best $46,411 for winning the 2019 WSOP Circuit Thunder Valley Event #7: $400 Monster Stack for $46,411.
More recently, he was named the “Casino Champ” of the WSOP Circuit Thunder Valley stop in January 2020 just prior to the pandemic.
It was there he cashed in five events including wins in Event #3: $400 Pot-Limit Omaha and Event #13: $400 Last Call for $7,021 and $26,787 respectively.
The second to last event of the Circuit stop turned into a Casino Championship tiebreaker, with four players at the Final Table competing for the Casino Championship title. Valdez ultimately prevailed.
“It was really tough, but I just kept playing my game and didn’t change anything. Of course, I wanted to outlast [Jimmy Wester], but I was also going for the win so I had to keep playing aggressively,” Valdez said at the time.
Poker World Reacts
Valdez’s unexpected passing came as a shock to the poker world, so it was no surprise to see an outpouring of condolences and memories on social media.
“One of the good ones at the table,” wrote Matthew Dillon. “Competitive but friendly and kind. Sad news for the whole community up there.”
Pablo Gutierrez said: “Dave was so excited about crushing tournaments this summer. Last week, he said he was gonna win a million bucks and throw a huge party in a suite for all his friends. Despite the eye rolls and needles from the others at the table, I smiled at him and told him I believed in him.”
Vincent Le, Poker Assistant Shift Manager at Thunder Valley, tweeted: “Sad to hear the news. One of the nicest guys in the poker community. RIP Beast!”
Others, like @Tahoechamp1, shared memories of Valdez.
@HoldemMedia_Dan @dval17 Can’t Stop thinking about my Guy Dave… Won a WSOP Ring and Dave asked to see it in are w… https://t.co/7ErExwueYw
Fittingly, another poker player, Jerod Smith, did dedicate his recent ring win in the WSOP.com Spring Super Series to Valdez.
“I didn’t know him super well, only met him a couple of times, but this news weighed heavily on me today,” he wrote. “Dedicating my ring to David. RIP brother.”
A GoFundMe has been established to help his family with funeral expenses.