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Sam Grizzle, famous for battles with Phil Hellmuth, dies

Poker player Sam Grizzle, a longtime pro who sparred with star player Phil Hellmuth verbally and physically, died Tuesday, according to multiple reports. He was 67.

The cause was a massive stroke.

Known for his deadpan one-liners at the table, Grizzle was introduced to a wide audience during a 2003 World Series of Poker broadcast on ESPN. He lobbed barbs at Hellmuth, the all-time WSOP bracelet leader, including at one point discrediting Hellmuth’s skills by saying, “What if you’re a goofball that just catches cards?”

Grizzle and Hellmuth had plenty of history coming into the broadcast. A few years earlier, they fought outside Binion’s after a confrontation at the poker table. ESPN commentator Norman Chad said on the broadcast that Grizzle “decked” Hellmuth. Hellmuth later said his back was out and that both landed punches.

“Sam is a master at getting people on tilt,” Hellmuth said in an interview on the broadcast.

Hellmuth ended up eliminating Grizzle from the tournament.

Hellmuth said on Twitter after news of Grizzle’s death: “Whenever you played poker (with) Sam, you were laughing. He was one of the cleverest guys in poker and will be missed.”

Grizzle amassed more than $1.3 million in live tournament earnings despite never making a six-figure score, according to the Hendon Mob Poker Database, with cashes dating to 1988.

His best tournament cash came this summer when he finished third in a WSOP Online event for $77,725. He had 28 career cashes in live WSOP events for $234,409. His best finish was third in a $1,500 seven-card stud event in 2001.

Tributes poured in for Grizzle from poker players on social media.

Daniel Negreanu said Grizzle was “without a doubt, the wittiest, funniest poker player I’ve ever sat with in my life.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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