Table Talk: Saying Goodbye to Lou Krieger

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This week, I could live vicariously through the folks at WPT Prague or drive over to the Las Vegas Strip to have a glass of something fancy with those at WPT Bellagio. But as I’m still soaking up the sad news of the passing of Lou Krieger, I’m going to lift a glass from home for a poker author, radio host, player and friend who left this world far too early.

First, let’s take a quick look back at the week of poker news. In live tournaments, there was the World Poker Tour stop in Morocco at the Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort. I believe I pretended to have a drink there last week. That event ended up with only 146 players in total and a $577,387 prize pool, somewhat of a small tournament in comparison to others. The final table saw Bruno Fitoussi out in sixth and Davidi Kitai out in fourth, and Giacomo Fundaro eventually took the title and $168,207 for the win.

The WPT then headed to Prague for what is turning out to be a massively popular event, as there were 567 players and a $2.1 million prize pool. In the US, the WPT was at Bellagio for its Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, and the $10k buy-in event offered re-entries, which became a source for discussion. (Someone, remind me to discuss this next week, please.) There were 503 entries, 135 of which were re-entries. Three players even bought in six times. Enough said about that for now! Prague and Las Vegas events continue through the end of the weekend.

In the world of online poker, the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) pushed forward in its attempt to regain some of its former glory, and rumor is that players are enjoying the tournaments.

For me, though, the week has been clouded by news of the death of Lou Krieger. His family notified his Facebook friends on Monday evening, and sadness worked its way through the poker industry on social media. Some were even shocked because they had spoken to him so recently and he said nothing of a downturn in his medical condition.

The disease was esophageal cancer. Lou informed his friends in June 2012 of his diagnosis, but he began treatments right away. In the months that followed, the side effects from chemotherapy seemed daunting, but the tumor was reportedly shrinking. He missed cycling and being active, but he continued to work as he could and host his weekly “Keep Flopping Aces” Internet radio show. There was no indication that cancer was getting the best of him, as he was just too keen on beating it.

The news that he died on Monday, December 3, was a shock because many of us thought his condition was improving. His last email update to friends indicated a positive outlook, and he worked up until just days before, hosting a show and talking to colleagues in poker without a mention of any type of turn for the worse.

Evidently, Lou went down fighting. This was the message posted by his family:

“It is my deepest regret to inform you that early this morning Lou’s fight against cancer ended. He fought courageously to the end with the same pride and dignity that carried him through his life. He wanted everyone to know that he did not go peacefully in his sleep but fighting like hell. He was surrounded by his family. We know he would want everyone to keep floppin’ aces. He will be missed by all that knew him. Poker has lost a star. “

In my eight years of writing about poker, he was my editor at times but a friend always. He respected my opinions, asking for my appearances on his radio show to discuss things like the UB scandal. I obliged once when the UB scandal broke and I was rather informed on the subject, but I turned down all other invitations because I wasn’t comfortable with my voice or confident enough in my opinions. But Lou was. He had confidence in me, and no matter if I appeared on his show or not, he continued to call for my thoughts on important poker issues. That meant more to me than I can truly explain.

Lou supported me, promoted my work, and mentored me through many of my initial years as a poker writer. His contributions to my life as a writer and a friend were invaluable. We didn’t speak often, but I hope it was enough to let him know how much I respected and valued him. I can only hope he knew.

For those unfamiliar with Lou Krieger, you need only look on Amazon to find the 11 books that he authored. The first was “Hold’em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner” in 1995, but his most popular was “Poker for Dummies” in 2000. He spent decades writing columns for CardPlayer, PokerPages, and Poker Player Newspaper, even working as an editor for the latter during the past few years. And he was duly proud of his Internet radio show that he hosted with Amy Calistri and then Shari Gellar for many years. His work is part of what has made the poker industry great. He was one of the good guys, the dedicated ones, the honest and hard-working contributors to the game.

My wish is that his family finds peace, and that the poker community never forgets the great man that lives on in his work and in our memories. I’ll miss Lou Krieger, but I hope to honor his spirit in some way as I continue life as a writer.

Cheers, Lou. I toast to your life.

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