Facing the Firing Squad: Gavin Smith
Note: Gavin Smith passed away in Jan. 2019. This feature appeared several years prior.
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 lots 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 an 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:
What are some of the things you stand for?
My family, honesty.
What are some of the things you stand against?
Dealer abuse, cruelty to animals, closing time.
What living person do you admire the most, and why?
My brother Neil — a great family man, a hard worker, plus he made me money.
What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?
Terry Fox – because his strength and determination moved an entire country. Also, my dad.
What living person do you despise?
Men “the Master” Nguyen for obvious reasons, but mainly for the way he treats dealers.
If money were not an object, what profession would you choose and why?
A gynecologist, because of the perks.
What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?
I am proud that I have survived in this business, yet am still a happy and friendly person.
What is about yourself that you’d like to change?
I’d like to become a little more frugal.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
Every day I do exciting things!
What the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?
One drunken night, five of us ended up in a random dude’s house in Rhode Island. It was a pretty weird experience.
Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go?
Favorite book, favorite music, and favorite musician?
Book — “Facing Ali. Music — Love all types of music. Musician — Neil Young.
What upsets you the most?
Women and children being abused and hurt.
Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?
I do believe, mostly out of hope because I have a lot of people that I still have something to say to.