On Thursday a well-known and loved professional online poker player passed away. His grieving family released a statement over Twitter saying “It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved son, nephew, cousin, brother, and friend.”
Batista, also known in the online casino scene as lilholdem954 passed away after being admitted to the intensive care unit of a Las Vegas hospital, at age 35. Batista was renowned for being one of the successful online poker pioneers that started playing poker as a career at the same time that iPoker started gaining ground.
Ranked by PocketFives.com as a #1 player in 2007-2008, Batista was a regular online tournament winner. Exact info has not been found but experts estimate that he had one over $5 million from online gambling over his career.
He transferred his online gambling skills to the live tourneys and in 2006 he earned his largest total win of $262,002 at the World Series of Poker. The following year he managed to finish 5th in the WSOP $1000 No Limit Hold’em tourney, leaving home with $129,064 in his pocket that summer. Overall, his live gambling career earned him $952,496.
Batista’s career may have been even more fruitful if “Black Friday” had not happened. He was forced to continue a career in online poker outside of the United States. He settled in Mexico, and although he has his two beloved dogs, the change was too much pressure to handle.
Batista was raised by his aunt Louise Batista after his mother passed when he was 16. His aunt told reporters that “After Black Friday, things weren’t quite the same. He didn’t like live poker because it was too slow-paced, and he didn’t like the crowds.”
The poker world was shaken and many who knew Batista passed their condolences over the Twitter feed. The family has asked that no flowers be sent but instead, those who wish can donate to the cause of a boy in Orlando, suffering from cancer.