A Tribute To Legendary Poker Player John ‘Gentleman’ Gale

A Tribute To Legendary Poker Player John ‘Gentleman’ Gale

John Gale finished second in the $5k Pot Limit Hold’em bracelet event at WSOP 2005 (© WSOP.com)

For old-school British poker players, it has been a sad year. Part poker player, part tournament director, part comedian and full-time madman, Marty Wilson, left us in the summer.

And, at the beginning of the winter, Alan Vinson, a proper old-school player with more poker history than the Magna Carta also went and checked out.

Both were real characters who were great entertainment at the tables or away from them, normally at the bar or in a betting shop.

But this week a different type of poker player left us, the quiet, unassuming and very successful, John Gale.

John, who was 65, brought up in Hackney, London, and shrewd enough in business to retire relatively young, was a personal friend who I first met in the immediate aftermath of his January 2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure WPT main event victory.

We shared an interest in horse racing – he owned Sirrah Jay who won the John Hughes Memorial Handicap Chase at the Aintree Festival – and within months I was a guest in his home and travel companion to the ‘Series’ and the likes of Deauville and Ladbrokes organised poker cruises.

Unassuming, John simply played poker for the love of playing poker. He was a massive fan of Vegas and playing in the USA per-se. His opening WSOP salvo came in 2005 when he finished second in the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em bracelet event.

If he had not of left the final table every third hand to smoke a cigarette he might just have won the thing. But he collected his first of two WSOP bracelets just 12 months later (in another Pot Limit competition) and his love affair with poker playing in the USA was cemented.

Despite ill health dating back over the past seven years severely curtailing his ability to travel, John cashed in 17 WSOP Vegas bracelet events in total.

He also won tournaments in the Bellagio (including the $5,000 entry WPT Bellagio Cup) and had a host of notable final table and ‘cashes’ in Atlantic City.

But his love of the game also saw him play and net results in smaller scale competitions in London grass roots hotbeds like Southend-on-Sea.

In the mid-noughties he was a regular mid-stakes online cash Omaha player using the alias ‘Gizzimo’ named after his beloved pet Labrador.

An inoffensive, friendly character, with a bad word for no one, John was deservedly given the moniker of ‘Gentleman’.

He certainly never took exception to my ribbing of the huge black sunglasses he wore to disguise his wince, urgings to cut back from the 60 cigarettes he smoked every day, or protests of his stubborn ways.

You could not offend him, God knows I tried.

Stars Out And Negreanu Moves

Daniel Negreanu, whose 12-year association with PokerStars came to an end this year, has signed as an ambassador with the Dublin-based snowballing online site GGPoker.

Meanwhile Liv Boeree and her boyfriend Igor Kurganov, who were fellow PokerStars sponsored faces, have recently announced they too have left the leading online poker room.

Boeree, who first gained notoriety when winning the made-for-television studio-based 2008 Ladbrokes European Ladies Championship in London, took to Twitter to announce her departure after nine years thanking “incredible staff and my fellow team mates for all the wonderful memories”.

Winamax Four In Three Countries

Elsewhere, French online poker operator Winamax have released details of four major live poker Festivals they have lined up for 2020.

The season opening Winamax Poker Tour ‘Spain’ will go down at the Casino Gran Madrid in Torrelodones. March 20th to 29th are the dates for the diary with the €1,500 entry main event starting on March 25th, it comes with a €500,000 guarantee.

Next up, Paris’ Club Pierre Charron will partner up with Winamax to host a fortnight-long World Series of Poker Circuit festival starting on May 18th. Winamax’ online poker players can qualify at the sponsor’s site for all side events and the €1,500 Main Event, which starts on May 27th.

The Gran Casino Costa Brava in Lloret de Mar, north of Barcelona, had a great reception to its inaugural Spanish SISMIX last May (over 2,000 registrations) so a return to the Costa Brava was almost inevitable in 2020.

Sure enough, Wimimax are returning there next September with a host of 6-max tournaments staged over eight days starting on the 19th of the month.

The main event has a €500 entry fee. And there is more short-handed action at the Winamax Poker Open in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel starting on November 30th.