The poker world was saddened this week to learn of the death of respected professional player Chad Brown, a high-stakes mixed-game expert who garnered accolades from all corners of the poker community. Brown, who was 52, had been battling a rare form of cancer known as liposarcoma since his diagnosis in 2011.
After trying numerous treatments over the past three years, Brown was recently transferred to a hospice care facility in New York, where he was visited by friends and family in his final days. Given his ailing health and his contributions to the world of poker, the World Series of Poker took the unprecedented step of awarding Brown an honorary WSOP bracelet last Saturday, just days before his death.
Special Award for a Special Person
“Sometimes there are special people that come around and transcend [the] traditional score card,” said WSOP tournament director Jack Effel during an emotional ceremony. “A person who stands for something. Like integrity, honor and friendship. A person who is positive, warm and respectful. A person who always made the game better just by being around the table. A person like Chad Brown.”
Brown was unable to attend the bracelet ceremony, but he was able to receive his bracelet in New York shortly before his death, and his niece Tweeted out a picture of him wearing the bracelet proudly.
Ballplayer, Actor, True Poker Pro
Over the course of his life, Brown was a man who wore many hats. As a youngster, he spent time in his father’s underground poker room in New York, learning a variety of card games in the process. He was also a promising baseball talent, only turning down a minor league contract offer because he dreamed of going to Hollywood instead. Brown would continue to enjoy baseball throughout most of his life.
In his 20s, Brown’s acting career saw success. Brown had roles in movies such as Basket Case 2 and Mystifying Revelation, as well as parts in a handful of television shows and movies. While he never quite made it as big as he might have liked in acting, that experience would later prove valuable when the poker boom hit, as he was often sought out as a commentator for televised poker shows.
By the early 1990s, Brown had gone back to his roots and was making significant money playing poker. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the world’s best mixed-game players, capable of competing with the best in a variety of cash game formats.
Brown was no slouch in tournaments, either. He made final tables on the World Poker Tour and the European Poker tour, and earned the 2006 Bluff Magazine “Player of the Year” award. He was also a longtime member of Team PokerStars Pro. And while he never won a WSOP bracelet on the felt, he posted 38 cashes at the festival, and pointed out that he didn’t need a bracelet to validate his abilities.
“What some fans of poker might want to give the bracelet the same kind of weight as, say, sports fans might give to a player winning a championship, it isn’t really a good way to define a poker player’s career,” Brown once said. “For me personally, if I don’t win one, I know it won’t define my career.”