Sometimes we get lost in the frivolity that is the poker world. The outrageous prop bets, the antics of players and, yes, sometimes even the tournaments themselves like the World Series of Poker. News has emerged on two continents to give all of us a moment of clarity amidst the fun we all seem to have.
In Europe on Saturday, a body found in a river in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana was determined to be that of German poker professional Johannes Strassmann. DNA tests conducted by Slovenian authorities made that determination after finding the body of a then-unidentified male in the Ljubljana River on Friday. “The National Forensic Laboratory has identified by DNA test the man who was found dead in the Ljubljana River as a 29-year old German citizen who had been missing,” an official statement read from Slovenian authorities, while PokerNews.com quoted Slovenian police officer Vinko Stojnsek as confirming the identity, stating, “The body we have found on Friday is of Johannes Strassmann.”
The case regarding Strassmann is an odd one, although police do not suspect foul play and are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if that played a role. On June 21, Strassmann was in the Slovenian capital with friends and was expected to meet with some players he was coaching to play some poker. Around 10PM while walking with his friends, Strassmann suddenly broke away from the group and vanished. Police issued a European-wide search for Strassmann on Tuesday in an effort to find him before his body was found on Friday.
Strassmann compiled an enviable record in only seven short years on the international tournament poker circuit. Strassmann earned seven lifetime cashes at the WSOP and earned ten more on the European Poker Tour, with his final cash coming at the EPT Grand Final in April of this year. Although he never won a major championship (his best finish was a third place run at the EPT Snowfest in March 2010), Strassmann earned $1,558,402 from tournament poker and was highly respected for his cash game play also.
As the news slowly sank in regarding the death of Strassmann, the poker world was hit with another punch Saturday. Poker pro Chad Brown, who has been battling cancer for the last few years, had entered into hospice care. As of early Sunday morning, Brown continues to fight in New York at that hospice facility but, according to reports from his family, is in dire straits.
When news of Brown’s condition broke in Las Vegas at the WSOP, officials there decided to do something that, in the history of the WSOP, has never been done before. During the bracelet ceremonies to honor the previous days’ winners, the WSOP decided to honor Brown with a special honorary WSOP bracelet. WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel stated during the ceremony, “Winning a WSOP bracelet in one of the ways a poker player can create their legacy, to make sure they will be remembered by their peers. But it is not the only way.”
“Sometimes there are special people that come around and transcend the traditional poker score card,” Effel continued. “(They are) 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.”
“It now seems a certainty that Chad will never again play in the World Series of Poker or any tournament setting,” Effel concluded. “Today, the World Series of Poker family would like to award Chad Brown an honorary bracelet.”
A highly successful model and actor before he entered the poker world, Brown displayed excellent talents on the felt. Starting in 1993, Brown has earned 38 cashes at the WSOP (including two runner up finishes), 10 cashes on the World Poker Tour and a range of other cashes around the world. He won the 2006 Bluff Magazine Poker Player of the Year award, commenting at the time that “winning Player of the Year is like an actor winning an Oscar.”
While on the way to racking up $3.6 million in tournament poker earnings, Brown also served as a face to bring new players into the game. He was the host of the Ultimate Poker Challenge, which aired in the mid-2000s in syndication and brought many of poker’s luminaries on the felt into people’s homes. He was also married to fellow Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso until 2012, when the duo amicably divorced.
Poker News Daily would like to offer our condolences to the Strassmann family in this difficult time and wish Chad Brown and his friends and family peace and comfort as they battle onward.