Photo by StephenMoorePhoto.com
Meet Gavin Smith (a.k.a. “BirdGuts”)
Perks and perils accompany friendship with Gavin Smith. The perks are obvious — utter unpredictability, outlandish humor, and a perpetually open bar tab. The perils are even more so — especially when it comes to wrecking Cadillacs.
I first met Gavin in 1996 at the Foxwoods Casino. Back then, we played a lot of poker together (I was always the superior player). We also engaged in a fair amount of “quality control” for the casino food and beverage department.
One of my favorite WSOP memories ever was presenting Gavin with his first gold bracelet. It happened three years ago this week. Afterward, I wrote up the official report. Gavin was ripe as a melon for ridicule. Here’s what I wrote:
On June 26th, 2010, when the local clock ticked to midnight, the shiny glass slipper fit. It fit perfectly. And “Cinderella” was none other than a long-haired, half-shaven, partially-balding, pork-bellied, man-child named Gavin Smith.
Gavin Smith. His name is a permanent punch line. Mention Gavin Smith’s name in a crowd of poker players and everyone instantly smiles. Despite never having won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet until this memorable night, he’s been one of poker’s most enchanting personalities for a decade.
Smith’s personality is part Jack Black, part Sam Kinison, and part Ozzy Osborne — all wrapped up in a 5-foot, 9-inch dynamo of a poker player with indisputable natural talent for cards and an unparalleled passion to win. In short, Gavin Smith was and is a living contradiction – a devoted professional when engaged in the game as well as a disorderly court jester when away from it.
If there’s anything more fun than hanging out with Gavin, it’s writing about him. That said, his jovial nature and carefree attitude masks what’s actually a very tender man beneath all the laughter. He’s someone who adores animals and is loyal beyond compare with his true friends. Then again, most of his friends are animals.
Gavin Smith was brave enough to face the firing squad: